Little Big Workshop - Review

Developed by Mirage Game Studios and published by Handy Games (an arm of THQ Nordic specifically supporting small dev studios) in October of 2019, Little Big Workshop is a logistics management game.  Starting off with a little factory with only a few rooms, you will research new workstations and optimise your processes as you construct toys, tools and furniture for clients and the open market.

What is a little bit different about Little Big Workshop is that rather than building a life sized factory, you are building on a table with small toy figurines as your staff, hence the little part of the name.  When you start a new game you will be faced with a tutorial guiding you through setting up your first workstations and creating your first products.  This only introduces the very basic concepts of the game though and there are a lot of things to explore as you progress and you can skip the tutorial if you wish.

Planning the blueprint for a shelf by selecting the raw materials, work stations and design flairs such as shelf supports
The game gives you quite a lot of control over your final products through a planning process.  In this stage of your construction, you will create a blueprint for your product.  This includes selecting the starting material, for example the type of wood, and even things like the shape of supports for shelves or decoration on products.  As you change these the attributes of the item will change.  These are important as they will determine whether your items are suitable for the contract of not.  These are influenced based on the materials you select and and design decision you make.  To help you in choosing which options to take the game will display options which will not allow you to reach your targets in red, and those which are suitable in beige.  During this planning you will also assign which workstations will process the various parts of the order.

There will be times where clients aren't requiring specific orders and during these times you can build for the free market.  The market will display a number of possible things to produce, along with information regarding the demand and price over time.  It will also give you an idea of whether your factory is equipped to deal with a specific order.  Due to the attributes mentioned before, it may be that you need higher quality parts made from different materials, or requiring further processing steps.  It can be tempting to jump straight for an item with a high return, however if you need to spend a lot of cash to get the right workstations, it may not be as good as it seems at that point.  You also need to keep an eye on your orders as you may get jobs from clients mid production run and need to change priorities to deliver these within the allotted time scale.

Waiting for my first workbench to be delivered
Management is key in this game, from financial management to ensuring that you have an equipped break room for your workers and everything in between.  Very early you will find that your workers will start to pass out if you don't provide them opportunities to relax.  The most basic way to do this is with a coffee machine and a break table but you can add other items to your break room such as a foosball table or games console.  You will also notice that making money, at least in the early game, can be tricky, especially when you want to expand fast and buy more workstations to be able to create a wider variety of products.  As with many management games, slow and steady expansion is the way forward.  Space management is also important as some of the workstations are pretty large and you will want to make sure that machines and workstations required in sequence are near to each other, or at least there are relevant storage zones nearby.  Similar to Good Company you want to try and minimise the time your workers are away from workstations to collect or deliver parts.

As you complete various milestones and more projects, you will level up.  With each level you will gain research points to spend in the research tree.  This will open up new items and features for your workshop.  These will range from features such as different types of storage zones to set up logistics lines, more efficient workstations and machines, construction tools to expand your workshop and new starting materials for your projects, although I have struggled to get the haulers working properly.  In the first tier there is a billboard item.  This allows you to connect multiple workshops of the same type and assign the task to the billboard, it will then distribute the tasks between all of the linked workstations and is usually the first thing I unlock.

The all important break room ready for some weary staff
As I've mentioned you can unlock construction tools for expanding your workshop.  I found this one of the most frustrating parts of the game.  I tried numerous times to build new rooms where I couldn't add a door to the new room, I would get double thickness walls and generally struggled initially to get them working and I feel they could have benefitted with an improved tutorial.  Eventually after the frustrations because I was following the tooltips which said to build walls and not being able to work out how to place doors I realised that if you place doors in your existing walls first, it is much easier. 

Overall the game is good fun, however there are definitely things which frustrate me with the game.  The marketplace demands seem to be random which should be a good thing.  Unfortunately this often leads to having to expand by buying a lot of additional workbenches at great cost, or being unable to meet the requirements for the product due to limitations of available materials.  It would be a lot better as an experience if these were gated in some way by the tech available to you, for example based on your workshop level.  Keeping your production lines running can also be tricky.  The stamina of your workers seems to drain pretty quickly meaning that you can often find that all of your staff are in the break room and not progressing your projects.  You also seem to often get left with finished products if you fail to meet the requirements for a client contract and removing these via the inventory screen isn't very intuitive (I wasn't aware this existed until I took to the forums, again and area where the tutorial could be improved). 

A client collects their order
My immediate reaction to the game was there was too much frustration and aspects which I didn't feel were very clear, but I'm glad that I've taken the time to persevere with the game.  After a few hours I'm now starting to get the hang of the various early game mechanics and enjoying the game now.  The game is slightly more expensive than the similar Good Company and I feel it would possibly be better priced similarly to that.  

Currently I would say that I'd probably wait for a sale with a slight reduction in the price before purchasing the game.  This is based on the frustrations I had immediately following the tutorial and how much isn't covered in the tutorial, if I wasn't writing up about it I would likely not have persevered with it.  There has been a DLC announced recently so if there is a free update with that it may change how I feel about the pricing.  Ironically, if this had been an early access title I would have been happier paying the little bit extra as I can see lots of potential with the game and there would be the chance these issues I have would have been addressed during that phase of development.

Little Big Workshop Passed Out Worker
Without adequate rest facilities your workers will pass out in the middle of your factory
Little Big Workshop Worker taking a break
As Ross once said to Rachel "We were on a break!" - A worker taking advantage of the break room
Little Big Workshop Bronze Objectives
The objectives screen showing the current tasks for a bronze workshop to level up your factory
Little Big Workshop Research
The research screen showing unlocked, available and future technologies to expand your manufacturing empire
Little Big Workshop Broken Workstation
A damaged workstation emitting blue sparks to indicate that it requires repairs and is working at a lower efficiency
Little Big Workshop Workstation on Fire
Left unchecked a damaged workstation can go on fire and be unusable until repairs are carried out
Lite Big Workshop Repairs
A worker repairing a damaged workstation
Little Big Workshop Construction
Builders have arrived to construct a new room for our factory
Little Big Workshop Mould
You will have to deal with issues from time to time, such as this growth of mould in the factory
Little Big Workshop Zones
Utilising zones allows you to allocate areas for outgoing stock, specific workstation inputs and general storage
Little Big Workshop Shelves
Using shelves in your zones allows better use of space, and faster movement of staff as the floors aren't obstructed
Little Big Workshop is available on Steam priced at $19.99/£17.99 with The Evil DLC release date and price to be announced.

Little Big Workshop - Review Little Big Workshop - Review Reviewed by Parcival on September 15, 2020 Rating: 5

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