THIS TITLE HAS A HISTORY
The job simulation genre is growing every day. It’s hard to predict for each new title which one is going to be carefully crafted with a mixture of fun and detail, or which ones are going to be thrown together, hoping to resemble a playable game. (This is pointedly explained in a review here on OPN for the previous installment of the Demolish and Build franchise.) Playway and Noble Muffins — the publisher and developer, respectively — hit Steam with the updated Demolish & Build 2018 attempting to improve upon the prior installment.
HAPPY WITH A HAMMER
Demolish & Build 2018, simplified, comes down to two tasks: You will find yourself demolishing things and building things. As the game opens, your employer (who is none too kind) gives you the job of remodeling a casino which we can assume is both the financial stimulus and entertainment lifeblood of this sleepy little town in Gold Valley. Well, you’re a bit too happy with a hammer and break some beautiful(ish) lion statues and get canned. What are you going to do now? I suppose this is where a simulator of being a casino dealer or a gas station attendant would fit in nicely. However, as luck would have it, a previous coworker conveniently hears of your termination and decides you’re an excellent person with which he would like to start up a booming business. He gives you five thousand dollars in capital and points you to an available building far too large for the original company, and you get to work.
The rest of the game revolves around completing jobs or purchasing property where you complete similar jobs to recoup the properties to start making money. In order to fulfill these tasks you need tools, and for tools you need cash, and I guess your benefactor is running dry. So, you roll up your sleeves and buy tools and equipment piece by piece until you can handle larger and more substantial jobs. As you make more money, complete tasks, and purchase property, your company rating increases. Once you reach specific benchmarks, you can move onto larger cities, with larger equipment and larger jobs. Interestingly, your rating only has to do with the money involved in your company and not the quality of the work.
WORK YOU CAN’T BE PROUD OF
Shortly after you start your growing business, it seems that your termination may be somewhat justified. There are two sides of every story of course, and if being fired was the result of a single incident of poor communication and destruction of property, then there may be cause for concern. However, as you pick up jobs around town, it becomes clear that this title may need to be rebranded to “Half-Ass Job Simulator”. Of course, there’s a line where detail becomes too much, but in one instance you’re given a task of breaking up concrete because of moisture under a garage, so you break out your jackhammer (or a remote-controlled machine with a jackhammer mounted) and bust a couple of holes in the ground, and you don’t even have to make it clean; just bust up a certain amount. You finish the job by taking a saw to some corrugated metal which you also leave scattered on the ground.
Another example is the task of demolishing a space shuttle. Yep, a shuttle — sitting on a mountain top with its wings removed and propped on stands. You break the wings, their stands, and a center fuselage, but leave behind the cockpit, tail, and engine. You also break down the fencing, which is a much-needed border on the edge of a massive cliff. Typically, you will be notified that your task is finished after you’ve completed about seventy-five percent of that work, and there’s no reason to finish it out. It’s best just to finalize the job, take the money, and turn it in — except, you can’t. You can’t turn it in or speed up time during the night. You’re expected to work 24 hours a day, or play “sit around at night contemplating everything wrong with your life” (or, as I like to call it, the “Joel Hendershott Simulator”).
THE BELIEVABLE AND THE… NOT
The business concepts are becoming more fleshed out as the title advances through the franchise, so if it keeps up we may have a solid title on our hands down the road. The destruction physics work quite well. You’ll gain a lot of ground by demolishing the lower parts of the walls and letting them collapse. This does cause damage to your equipment the rubble happens to fall on, but luckily you’re a general handyman because with a wrench or welder you can repair your vehicles at no cost. It’s also really great (and implausible) that your protective equipment and your bones have some kind of magical protection spell on them because the wall can come crashing down on you without causing any injuries whatsoever.
The heavy equipment is relatively easy to get a handle on and does become somewhat more advanced as the game progresses, although nothing in the game is really sensitive enough. Everything from hauling cargo to moving around a wheeled excavator is a chore to keep them upright. The pickup has almost no weight and can fly all around the road. They did put a sick handbrake in most of the vehicles though —I find that drifting a dump truck may be an earnest redeeming quality of this game. A bit more attention needs to be given to the controls of the excavator, as one of the best things about an excavator is the ability to articulate and rotate on many axes at a time, such as lowering an arm while moving forward, picking up a load, and then reversing while turning the cab and arm assembly to unload. In Demolish & Build 2018 you’re forced to move forward, toggle your control mode by hitting tab, and only then are you able to manipulate or swing the arm. Once you’re done with your task, you’re required to smash the tab button again to get moving. These machines are functional but need to be tightened up to make a gratifying experience.
SMASH THINGS TOGETHER
You can extract more fun out of Demolish & Build 2018 by gaming with a partner in multiplayer. It’s incredibly easy to start a session and for a friend (or stranger if you like) to find and join your game. It’s much more enjoyable to have a couple of people moving around a job site and racing semi trucks on lonesome desert highways. If you don’t have any friends willing to drop money on a game, then there is still some hope for you: In-game you can hire workers to help complete tasks for you! You can let them repair your rental properties so you can keep raking in cash on bigger, more important jobs.
The Verdict: Good
Demolish & Build 2018 is a franchise heading in the right direction. While there could be a significant amount of development and tightening of the mechanics and controls, there are many improvements over the previous title. Demolish & Build 2018 is an enjoyable, cooperative sim experience, although the demolishing part of the game is more fleshed out than the building part. This may be a good one to watch for patches, improvements, or to pick up during a Steam sale.