by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Minus the Epic
My time with Epic Car Factory started promisingly. The game has a great vibe, some pretty cool looking graphics and an upbeat little tune that gets you right into the mood of building some cars. Once I designed a few, my mood changed. This game is not quite as advertised.
I don’t know about you, but a game that is called Epic Car Factory and touted to be a “fast paced business simulation that puts you in the driver’s seat of your very own car company”, I’m expecting to do a bit more than design cars with the same 4 parts over and over. And that’s exactly what Epic Car Factory makes you do. It’s really more like Epic Car Design Company, minus the Epic.
Some assembly required
You are given control of a garage (really, it’s not a factory) and a basic starting kit that includes a good amount of cash, some car part blueprints and two rather hapless employees. The blueprints are for a chassis, a body, an engine and tires. You’ll unlock new versions of these over time, but never anything extra. No windshield wipers, no breaks. Just those four. Upgrades all look the same, with the exception of the body. Developing a new car involves selecting four blueprints, choosing whether to focus on any specific area, such as performance or looks, and setting a pricing strategy for its sales.
Next, your workers start their tinkering. They’ll assemble the part, put in some of their expertise for each of the four areas. If you opted to make an expensive car, the process will take a lot longer than a low-cost mass produced vehicle. The skill of your workers does not influence the duration but it does heavily affect the car’s stats. Strangely, the quality of the car parts quickly becomes a minute part of the overall stats. Halfway through my playthrough I had my first 1000 on Looks, and the blueprint itself provided only 30-ish of that. Ehm… Balancing?
Once the car rolls off the design bench, you’d expect the game to let you plan the manufacturing of the new model. It doesn’t. The actual factory is MIA. Apart from some “one click” advertising, your involvement with the car comes to a full stop. Even the pricing strategy you set earlier is fully out of your control. The yearly financial report is cumulative and there is no way to find out which models sold well and which tanked. You cannot fiddle with the price of cars to boost sales or optimize revenue. You can’t see which of the competition’s cars did well, or how yours compared to theirs, or, or, or...
Your only indication of how your cars are doing is a yearly competition - which actually comes so fast that it feels like it is monthly. The contest has your cars compete against those of other manufacturers. After year 1 in my first and only playthrough, my cars were first in every category, every single year with no exceptions. Not surprisingly, I won the yearly race as well. Between the two, I gained 80 fans every year! But other than a small tooltip saying that fans will always buy my cars, I have no idea what they actually do.
I’m not sure what the devs had in mind when they started work on the game. It’s like Epic Car Factory is the first half of a complete game, or even the first third. There’s really not that much game here. Putting the same four car components into a bowl and waiting for something to come out on the other end is barely a game. I guess you could roleplay a bit - design your car, start up Factorio or Production Line and pretend to manufacture the car there. As it stands, Epic Car Factory is more like... Car.
Appealing aesthetics, everything works
Extremely repetitive, no actual factory in sight