Tycoon games are always popular, and have enjoyed a resurgence lately with titles like Game Dev Tycoon and Two Point Hospital. So, naturally, the next stop from here? Weedcraft Inc., a game about climbing the ranks, selling a lot of weed and creating your own empire of questionable legality.
Weedcraft Inc., coming from Vile Monarch and Devlover Digital, promises to be a game not just for stoners, offering an insight into the world of legal and illegal cannabis sales and the murky grey area inbetween, while making sure to grow only the finest cannabis for your consumers.
The beginnings of an empire
Weedcraft Inc. offers two scenarios to choose from, with the two functioning as a sort of difficulty selection. The first scenario is about a college dropout, having previously been studying a Masters in business, having to come home after his father died and the money has run out. In this scenario it’s the players brother who introduces a world of illegal weed sales as a way to stay on your feet and make a name for yourselves.
The second scenario features a man just released from prison for smuggling marijuana, which is now legal in his state, and finds that his former associates are now selling cannabis legally. He has to re-enter society and navigate this new world while trying to stay out of prison.
In my time with the game, I only played through the first scenario and found it to be more in depth in terms of story than I expected. You’re offered dialogue choices and the option to engage in more legal or illegal activities, each with their own benefits and moral quandaries. Do you sell your soul to the shady big businesses who have questionable practices, but stay entirely legal? Or do you remain selling illegally but perhaps feel better about it, contributing to research and helping people who really need it due to various illnesses?
The game promises a certain level of sophistication with more than just your typical stoner piece, but actually playing it can turn out to be a different matter. There’s a lot of stoner culture to go through, and perhaps it’s justified to a certain extent because while being an excellent tycoon management game, the subject matter may not appeal to everyone. So the game chooses its target audience and sticks with it.
This isn’t a bad thing, other than trying to be something its not here and there in an attempt to be a little more ‘serious’ and appeal to people who might frown upon cannabis due to the stoner culture element. Though it at least tries to be a little more serious about it and explores questions of legality and who buys the product.
The game starts off simply enough in order to introduce the gameplay elements. You have one basic strain of crappy weed to grow in your basement. This helps you get the basics of having to water and trim your plant for sale at an illegal marketplace.
Though, crappy weed isn’t for everyone. People want different strains of different quality and this is where the depth comes in. Each strain has different lighting and soil requirements, as well as different needs when it comes to things like potassium intake or soil acidity. You can’t just throw any old strain in a pot and expect good results.
On top of that, you have to dictate the appropriate price for your product that will get plenty of buyers so you can buy more supplies and space in the market while making sure your product is better than your competitors so you’re not pushed out of the market entirely.
Of course, all of this is while staying on the good side of the law. Sell enough weed and have a big enough presence and it won’t be long before law enforcement is breathing down the neck of your amateur botany project, regardless of legality in the state, because selling weed on street corners is still largely frowned upon.
Weedcraft Inc. is a game that was clearly made by a team that loves cannabis culture and wants to present it as something more in depth and nuanced than say, perhaps, Cheech and Chong. It’s a world that’s constantly changing and for as many people as it helps, there are always going to be those that just want to get high, and the game doesn’t skirt around the fact.
It presents a lot of questions, it tries its best to provide a system that’s realistic in terms of growing and selling, and it wants to make you think about who consumes cannabis and why. Though there are plenty of times it also nudges and winks the stoners in the crowd, making sure it hasn’t forgotten them, because they’re going to be playing too.
Overall though I went in expecting to roll my eyes and came out with a simulation game that constantly asked a lot of me, making sure I didn’t get complacent in the systems and it’s definitely not something someone stoned out of their mind could play. There’s a lot to keep track of and if you love management on a micro scale as well as the macro, there’s a lot to offer.
It’s a confusing game in terms of who it’s for and why, but I’ll be darned if it wasn’t entertaining and gave me a few moments where I came out really thinking about the industry more than I thought I would.