Factorio was developed and published by Wube Software LTD. It was released to Steam Early Access on February 25, 2016 at the price of $20.00. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels.
Factorio is an immersive production game with hints of city building and RTS-Battle games. The graphics are well suited to the infinite nature of the game and emulate a 16 bit style. As the game title suggests there is a substantial amount of automation and factory building to facilitate your production. The game has a very addictive nature and is incredibly difficult to organize which leads to an immense amount of time spent planning. I personally enjoy city-building games and would put them in my top three game genres. Cities:Skylines and Minecraft both come to mind when playing Factorio but it’s in a league of it’s own undoubtedly.
What I enjoyed:
Quick Start – I mentioned that I play many city building games which made getting started in Factorio fairly easy after a couple of well built but poorly described tutorials. When you start your first production setup you advance rapidly. As you advance you’ll find that more and more components are needed for each new component and creating compound production lines becomes key. You’ll find within a couple of hours you have components for research being automated into your labs while you setup new automation lines.
Logic Puzzle – The amount of logic needed for a game like this is incredible. The amount of times you’ll likely restart a facility to get the perfect setup is equally incredible. I found this phenomenon to be a mixture of frustration and elation. You’ll be cursing the developers each time you run hundreds of pieces of track only to find the production line isn’t going to work right and you have to rebuild the whole thing. You will however sit back with a sense of amazing pride when you have 40-50 different production lines feeding into hundreds more creating vehicles and weapons by the warehouse.
Multi-Replay – There are some deep replay-ability aspects to Factorio. Players can group up and build massive complex systems together which only further increases the expansive nature of the automation. The maps are highly customize-able and mods are both encouraged as well as available in substantial numbers already. The overwhelmingly positive reviews on the Steam platform are over 8,900 at this point so it’s clearly something the community is embracing.
What I disliked:
Sunken time – I’ve played enough games with semi-infinite to infinite formulas to recognize what is happening to me during the addictive game-play stage. I stopped myself at 30 hours of Factorio solely noticing that it could get out of hand quickly. This is not a flaw as much as a design element that has become more popular and available due to the processing power of CPU’s being able to sustain “infinite” generated worlds. Minecraft is similar in that you can build infinitely and one thing I do enjoy about city building games is that once you fill the terrain you often have a feeling of completion which cannot be obtained with these infinite games.
Returning is difficult – My biggest problem with Factorio is that when you save your game after playing for hours and return to it after a few days it can be completely overwhelming. I found my first hour was often spent trying to figure out where I was in terms of the next thing to produce or the next line to connect. The sheer vast nature of the game can make managing every aspect quite a task. I found that often I felt more like starting a new map than trying to figure out how the mess of wires and tracks worked from a map I played a week ago.
I found Factorio to be an incredibly deep and well designed game. The only downsides I mentioned are considered upsides by many and I can’t argue that I don’t see substantial upside to a game at this price point being nearly infinitely playable. There is no shortage of brain power you can spend attempting to create an efficient and massive connection of factories producing a massive variety of goods. It may be in Early Access but this game is substantially superior and more complete than many “released” titles on the platform.
Score: Buy it now
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