1849 is a city management game made by SomaSim, set during the California gold rush. The music in the game is a very twangy, old timey, classic western, which sets up the theme and tone for the game. There are two parts to 1849: he campaign and sandbox mode.
The sandbox mode is what it sounds like, a big empty plot. You start out by going to a map of the California area that the game is based off of. You have to pick an area where you think you can strive for the best and go for it. Each plot is basically the same, meaning that you have one stream in the upper left hand corner, a road through the middle, and a warehouse, to store the resources, centered in the middle of town but still attached to the road. You then get some options that offer different amounts of money, buildings, and resources. You now can start building and surviving.
The campaign is pretty standard for a town management style game, where you get introduced to the mechanics. In the story mode you start out with a map and one town to start with, and as you progress you gain more cities, and you can even go back to the old towns and start over. You start off with a short background of the area you are in, then you get a screen telling you the goals of the scenario, which there are three of in each instance, but you can only accomplish one of those at a time. After looking over the goals, the game gives you the option of where you want to start.
There are three options for each scenario: go for all money, go for even money and resources, and resources/building, with of course, some more money. Then after you choose what option you want, you start building and managing all those resources. Resources aren’t the only thing you have to manage, the more jobs you have the more workers you need, but of course you’re looking to strike a balance between settlers and jobs. Then there is your debt to worry about, but the one bad thing that I noticed when you go into debt is that you can’t even sell spare product to get you out of debt, which is just doesn’t make sense. It can take a lot of time resources to get out of debt, and if you’re not careful you’ll be back in debt before you even notice.
There is only one way to get out of debt and that is by waiting. But once you are out of debt you can use the buildings that you’ve always have, and don’t have to purchase. The warehouse will store all of your resources, and whenever you feel like it, or you feel like you have too much of one resource, the warehouse allows you to buy and sell. You can buy and sell to other towns that you have opened the trade route with.
At the end of each scenario, you get scored based on how much money you have, the population you have at the time you finish and how many buildings you’ve built. Unfortunately you can’t buy more land to expand your plot, so you have a fixed plot and you need to manage it really well, or you will run out of space before you can complete the objectives for each town. It leaves very little room for error.
Also in the story mode, you can get commissions that come in the forum of a telegraph. A telegraph gives you an extra challenge that will give you a reward if you complete it on time. All the challenges that are sent to you, you have to build, or craft a certain amount of commodities. Depending on how much of you have to make, and what type, you get a different lengths of time to complete the the commission’s. You can accept or decline the commission but if you fail the commission after you accepted it, I have noticed that you do not get a new one. But if you decline it, there is a chance that you can get a new one. Some of the commissions will require certain buildings to be built in order for you to complete them.
There are a lot of different buildings, some of them are range dependant and will affect everything in the area. The buildings that have the effect radius are the schools, the firehouse, the police station, and the church. There are a few natural disasters that can destroy a building or two, such as earthquakes that can collapse entire buildings, which you then have to repair. This makes the game a bit more challenging, but in a fun, uno kind of way.
There are a few minor things that make the game annoying is that if you click a building that has been burnt down multiple times, it will generate a new message every time you click it, instead of just focusing your attention back to the message. Another issue is that you have to wait for people to jump into an open job, which tends to be really slow and the production won’t start until they are at least three quarters of the way full. I feel like there should be a way to get people into jobs faster so you can start production faster. These just seem like big oversights in design that make the game more frustrating.
Some of the things that SomaSim should have implemented before the game was released to the public was allowing for the settings to be changed. Once you’re in a town or in the sandbox mode, you cannot adjust any of the settings, like lowering the music, which is too loud and will make you go mad. Also, when trying to build up my towns, there were no hotkeys for buildings, or actions that I have found myself needing to do a lot. For example, building houses, is a big time waster when you can’t hotkey the house but instead you have to click the icon to buy the house and place it, instead of using hotkeys.
So after everything is said and done, it’s still in an open beta and is still being worked on, but there are some trivial things that should have been included before it went on sale, and not patched in. And I do believe that the game can do better and probably will do better but at the time that I played it wasn’t very polished and what it did have could have been better.