Nestled high on an everyday tabletop sits a not so everyday magical workshop on the brink of making great things made just for you and me. Maybe. Or maybe there is an eager customer base somewhere out there on another tabletop waiting not so patiently? Labeled as an open-ended sandbox developed by German team HandyGames yet playing familiarly and similarly to a robust building-management simulator, at least in my humble experience during our Little Big Workshop review.
I use the word humble because I had my preconceived ideas about this game handed to me on the “eat humble pie” platter.
Little Big Workshop is adorable, like Two Point Hospital and Satisfactory Game had a baby. The art design giving you an almost Santa’s little elves vibe just in time to get ready for the holidays. Or maybe it’s that retired gentleman’s shed and he dropped a magical bean and from it sprouted this beanstalk little workers could climb and start a factory full of promise? I adore each and every little character, the factory itself with all it’s tools and machines and the interactable table but this is where the whimsical notions really end because hiding just beneath this cute exterior lies a lethal combination of blueprint planning and capitalism my playful mind wasn’t ready for reminding me of that time I gleefully popped a grape in my mouth prepared for sweetness – but it was actually an olive.
In fact even after hours of play I hadn’t left the beginners phase, went bankrupt once (fell beneath -5000 gold) and started the game over three or four times because plans just wouldn’t play nice for me. However I am not fully convinced this is purely the games fault – perhaps I am just not as clever as I thought I was? That’s the beauty and also curse of this game, you think you know what you are doing but somehow those plans just don’t match and clicking on workstations requires a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson style eyebrow peeking formula to actually link every procedure together so you can go ahead with your work order to try and keep your cute little workers busy.
The name of the game in Little Big Workshop is to strike off your checklist making enough money to buy every tool in your table-top factory, create a pleasant break room for your team and then build client relations via orders from them while also meeting Open Market supply and demand. All of these objectives require gold. There is also a Research and Development tree you advance through as you make and sell more items along with milestones to guide you along the way however I felt the game could have done an even better job at guiding. Perhaps even considered a Bank loan option in the beginning phases so players could learn faster distributing more fun less “oh no I am broke,” factor. Even as I say this though I am also enjoying the challenge and keep going back in for more to conquer this cute manufacturing demon!
What I thought was a younger audience user-friendly game is turning out to be an enjoyable not-so-easy to accomplish economist’s dream game for all ages. Driving this sim management machine from the minute you log in is the curiosity about where the game will take you and who you end up hiring or creating a business with. HandyGames have managed to create an intriguing blend of charm and challenge that never makes you feel overly taxed even if you are going bankrupt and puzzled by plans that just don’t go as you plan.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam PC with a code provided by PR.