First Impression: Blub Emporium
Developer: Riley Gray
Release Date: 17 November, 2021 (Est.)
By Chris Picone, 09 July 2021
I won’t lie; nothing about this game grabbed me immediately. There’s nothing wrong with its presentation, it’s just that the graphics are super cutesy so I thought it might be a kids game and I haven’t played a tycoon game in forever. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time as an indie reviewer, it’s that stepping outside my comfort zone often yields some really pleasant surprises, and games that I may have never looked at twice become some of my favourites.
And I’m glad I took the leap. I’m hooked. The genre’s hard to pick – it’s part tycoon, part idler, and part puzzle. I think starting the game out with a rubber duck tree set the mood straight away; it’s not a kid’s game, it just doesn’t take itself too seriously. The game has three key parts: The emporium, the farm, and the factory. Primarily, your task is to run (and decorate) an emporium, tycoon-style. Stocking your emporium involves growing produce in the farm and manufacturing more complicated products in the factory. There is some idling while waiting for money to roll in or fruit to grow but unlike an idler there are plenty of little odd jobs around the shop and the farm to keep you entertained while you wait. The real highlight of the game (for me) is the factory. It’s not just a case of adding more hoppers and machines as you grow; trying to fit, power, and time all your equipment is a real puzzle that requires outside-the-box thinking to solve. There’s also a little bit of lore and some random events and surprise early game teasers that prevent the game from ever feeling monotonous.
The verdict? It's relaxed, which apparently I'm in the mood for at the moment, but not boringly so. It’s very polished (for a game in EA), and very flexible – there’s no railroading, you play the game however you like. I’m at level 25 now (talking 15 hours of gameplay), which sounds like a lot but the dev estimates 200-250 levels, and I’m really enjoying it so far.