Let me preface my review-in-progress by stating that I love strategies: real-time, turn-based, unforgiving and wonky, classic and offering new takes on gameplay. So, when I got a chance to try out upcoming real-time strategy/management sim with RPG elements Crossroads Inn from Kraken Unleashed and Klabater, I jumped at the opportunity to see what the game is like from the inside.
Crossroads Inn offers two different game modes: Campaign and Sandbox (the latter split into four difficulties: Carefree, Forgiving, Normal and Challenging). For the purposes of this review-in-progress, I have spent a few hours in the Campaign mode, following the story of Martyn the Innkeeper and his nephew (yours truly) as the duo tries to establish an Inn of their dreams. While I have not moved very far in the story – growing a tavern is not a fast business! – the devs offer players the non-linear story of a kingdom in turmoil. The team promises that players “will become part of a large-scale drama full of political intrigues, vivid characters, treacherous NPC’s and dangerous quests inspired by RPG games”.
But first, before it gets to that point, you’ve gotta learn everything a self-respecting innkeeper is supposed to know: how to build and furnish your establishment, how to manage staff and oversee supply chains and so much more like handling the quests out to traveling adventurers. So for the love of everything you hold dear, do not skip the tutorial!
At first, the handling of the inn starts innocently enough: place a handful of tables and seats around the main hall, hire a few helpers and get some wine for your thirsty patrons. However, as the time goes on, the game continues offering you new possibilities as well as deepening the systems you have become familiar with. As the fame of your inn grows, your visitors will no longer be pleased just by a cup of wine on the menu. The patrons will expect you to offer them games, places to rest and, of course, food. Who are you going to welcome into your establishment? Local peasants, richer townfolk or, perhaps, a local group of bandits? Discover recipes, create new dishes and serve varied menus to attract different social groups.
No Inn can continue to thrive without the supplies: your patrons need clean mugs and plates to drink and eat from, cooking recipes require specific reagents and wood, torches will burn out without the fat and, of course, ultimately it all becomes a question of gold. Luckily, managing prices of the items on the menu is also your job and no one says you can’t raise ‘em by a few gold pieces to cover your expenses – as long as you are not making your customers mad, of course.
As your staff levels and you finish quests, you also get special points you can spent on passive effects and unlocking new rooms/equipment/tools, etc. Among others, it is a passive increase to the number of items your supply caravans can carry, the moving speed of those caravans, how fast your staff becomes tired and how long the visitors are willing to wait for the service before leaving your inn with a huff.
There have been a few bugs I have encountered during my stay in the game. In particular, the staff and the visitors tend to get stuck in the narrow hallways so you might want to build some extra space in your Inn just in case. Another bug I have run into was one of the servant girls registering as using all the five beds in my Guest room… at once, while actually continuing to work in the Main Hall of the Inn. The guests and other servants would not use the room, and neither would the affected NPC. The only way I found to solve the problem was to fire her. Too bad, but the income from the Guest Room was far too important for my little establishment.
Crossroads Inn offers layers upon layers of gameplay and all the micromanagement your soul might wish for. If you are the kind of person who tends to go all out in your sims, like building Booty Bay in The Sims 4, you will have a blast with creating exactly the type of Inn you wish in the game.