by Marcus Mulkins
reviewed on PC
Beauty And The Beast (cont.)
The really big problem is that the more involved in the game you become, the more actions you have to juggle: As you develop the business, you may produce a wider variety of products – with a greater variance between cost of materials and the sale price. You have to supervise the employees to perform tasks optimally. One employee may be gathering a necessary raw material while another actually assembles the product. But if the one assembling does so faster than the one gathering, work stoppages occur. If the one gathering is faster, then the available storage may fill up and then that employee is wasting time collecting raw materials that have no place to go. Finished goods need to be carted to Market.
Later in the game, Robbers start to attack carts, so you have to balance the benefits of hiring guards or just accepting the occasional loss – of which you really can’t afford any. But guards aren’t cheap, and even if they’re there, there’s no guarantee that they’ll fend off the Robbers anyway. Some ingredients simply cannot be gathered by employees, so you have to oversee the Market transaction to sell your finished goods and purchase raw materials. Once you start to build up cash, it becomes lucrative to build or buy additional businesses (which you must be qualified to operate). More businesses mean more tasks that you must personally supervise. There IS an option to set up businesses to run on “autopilot”, but the cash drain the AI charges to do so is prohibitive. (Not to mention the many stupid business decisions the AI has a penchant for making.)
Meanwhile, you also need to be running for public office. That takes LOTS of time and LOTS of money. Your character must go the Meeting Hall to apply for positions, then there are several people that MUST be bribed to curry favor and win votes. Then the character must allocate several hours of each “day” attending Council meetings where the ONLY order of business is running an election for each Council position. You may opt to place your character at the meeting and then zoom out to perform other activities, but doing so denies you the opportunity to receive (negligible) bribes and place (large) necessary ones if you want to keep your office or advance to higher one. It becomes something of an art timing Pauses in the game, popping out to cycle through your businesses, house, and carts to maximize their performance, then popping back into the Council meeting before un-Pausing the game. (Even on Pause, the game still creeps along, so while you’re busy directing cart traffic, you may still miss something vital.) Council meetings start at 1700 hours, and may go until 0200 or 0300 the next day, depending on the size of the community.
Joys of courting
One of the other joys (note sarcasm) of the game is Courting a spouse. The Important Units button on the character panel includes a selection of up to 8 “optimal” spouse candidates. (No choosing the first character that crosses your path.) There doesn’t seem to be any explanation anywhere that explains why a candidate is optimal; those are simply the choices given to you. After viewing the candidates’ attributes, you must decide for yourself which one suits you. (By the way, up close, they’re ALL about as homely as can be, so you won’t be choosing a spouse based on good looks.) You might choose a young one, hoping she’ll live longer. Or you may choose an older one because she won’t, thus allowing you the opportunity to remarry. You might choose “Rich” or “Prosperous” over “Poor” and “Destitute”, hoping for a large dowry. However, near as I can tell, there are NO financial differences between candidates. The only real differences are in which attribute they may have a 2 value instead of being all 1’s, and the candidates’ ages. So, having made a choice, you have to have your character stop whatever chore was being done, to track the candidate down. The candidate must be somewhere approachable – NOT inside their home. (Homes are supposed to have restricted access. Your character can’t enter another’s. Yet, the NPC’s can freely enter my home in order to offer bribes or complimentary poems. Something of a glaring double-standard there.) You start the ritual off with a Compliment – which you may not try that again for another “hour”. You can offer gifts one after another – but at the beginning, you generally have only one storage space capable of holding 3 of the same item. Offering a duplicate of a gift already given is an almost surefire way of actually losing favor with your intended. So, generally, after having given a gift, you must then run over to the Market to buy something different.
Enough gifts and smoozing and you will have built up enough favor to actually initiate the Courtship. Once having started the Courtship, the clock is running. There is a meter bar below the intended’s portrait: move the progress indicator all the way to the right and you get to actually propose marriage. You accomplish this by giving different Gifts and bestowing Compliments, Embraces, Kisses, etc. (Gifts you can give one after another; the other actions permit you to bestow only ONE of them each hour.) Fail to advance the meter fast enough and you get a message stating “Someone feels neglected.” That moves the meter in the wrong direction. (It’s ironic to note that if the intended goes to bed at night, before he or she arises in the morning, you will have received two or three “Neglected” messages during the night. Now, is that fair?) Meanwhile, while you are Courting a possible spouse, there’s things like businesses and Council meetings that really could benefit from your character’s personal attention.
No Pros and Cons at this time