First Impression: Festival Tycoon

Developer: Johannes Gabler

Release Date: 27 September, 2021 (EA)

Platform: Windows

Genre: Tycoon

By Chris Picone, 31 January 2022

Festival Tycoon’s screenshots brought back fond memories of one of my favourite games of all time, Bullfrog’s Theme Park, so I had to try it. It features low poly artwork which I’m not normally a fan of but in this case it waxed nostalgic so I was down for it. There are certainly similarities with Theme Park, despite the theme, but also plenty of differences. One of the major deviations was that the game plays in two phases; a building phase, where you design your festival, laying out all the buildings, negotiating contracts, setting ticket prices and so on; and the live phase, where you then have to manage the festival in real-time, dealing with fights and injuries and trying to keep the place neat and tidy.

The learning curve’s an interesting one. There is a tutorial and it’s enough to get going but is still missing some crucial steps – as simple as the game looks, there’s a lot going on under the hood. For example, when I ran my first concert (led by the tutorial), I found my regular patrons were quite happy with the event but my VIPs were upset because I hadn’t manually designated bars or activities for VIP use only. I also had to get my head around that I was planning festivals rather than concerts, and they go for several days so you really need lots of food, activities, and services in place. Negotiating contracts also takes some practice; trying to juggle the conflicting demands of sponsors and bands while trying to stay under budget can be tricky.

The verdict? Festival Tycoon is interesting and challenging. It’s still in Early Access at the moment so not all the content’s in place yet and there’s still the odd bug here and there but there’s already plenty to see and do and it can only get better.