The best survival and sim games often have one of two things:
A unique aesthetic that allows gamers to explore worlds they’ve never seen before
Space for creativity, which lets players create something the developers could have never imagined
If you’re looking for an experience that offers neither one of these things, Community Inc. is the game for you.
In a nutshell, Community Inc. lets you build a village from the ground up. You’ll start with simple tools to farm and gather resources, and eventually you’ll set up trading networks and fight wars against the creatures that live near your community. During that time you'll have to brave dangerous weather and defend your village against attackers. You can think of it as Minecraft meets SimCity.
Despite the intriguing concept, the game was in rough shape when it first came out. It only became functional after ten days of patches and updates. Problems up until that point included villagers sleeping in beds that were set on fire and the entire tutorial ceasing to function due to bugs in the AI. I do appreciate it when developers work to fix problems when they pop up, but I really hate the practice of bringing a game out of alpha when it isn’t finished.
That’s also not to say that the controls are completely fixed. As of this writing, you can’t demolish structures once you’ve built them, and the auto-gather function doesn’t always work. For example, my lumberjacks would go out and cut trees on their own, but my miners wouldn’t do anything unless I told them to. I needed to level up my miners in order to build certain structures, but because they never did their job, I couldn’t build anything that would help me win the game during my first playthrough.
When your village fails - and I can almost guarantee it’ll happen - you have the option of selling it to start out the next game with more money. This mechanic takes some of the sting out of losing the game, though starting over from scratch after spending several hours on your village is still infuriating.
To be frank, survival and sim games just aren’t fun for me. And problems aside, the structure of Community Inc. didn’t do anything to change my mind. There’s not much to this game outside of navigating menus and managing resources. Also, the buildings and environments were bland, the character animation lacked personality, and the pace of the game was excruciatingly slow.
It also didn’t help that the writing was boring. The game brings up an interesting mechanic of maintaining relationships with the creatures you meet, which can get tricky since not all of them like each other. For example, forming a trade agreement with one party can mean war with another. Unfortunately, the execution of that idea was ruined by stale dialogue.
Community Inc. lacks personality and offers little outside of whatever Skinner Box pleasures you get from a basic survival or sim game. And that’s when everything is functioning properly. Even die hard fans of the genre may want to give this one a pass.
Final score: 3.8 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.