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Fiz: The Brewery Management Game

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Charming, but not quite charming enough

Product: Fiz: The Brewery Management Game | Developer: Bit By Bit Studios | Publisher: Bit By Bit Studios | Format: iPhone | Genre: Simulation, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.1
Fiz: The Brewery Management Game iPhone, thumbnail 1
My brewery, Boozehound, is entering its 12th year of business.

In that time, my unpaid employees have sat in the same garage and made the same beers over and over, going slowly mad, the only entertainment they have being a faulty NES in the corner of the room and, occasionally, stamping on a rat so hard that it spits out money.

Precious, precious money. We're not above stamping on rats for it - we're hungry. Sometimes the rats are carrying fragments of recipes.

How did they get them? Was there another brewer here before us? Are the rats writing them, fragment by fragment, assembling them in unseen holes in a cargo-cult attempt to make beer?

A story

Sometimes, as I sleep at night on the one sofa we all must share, I can hear them scratching and clawing at the walls.

A man came in and gave us a crocodile skin that I wear as a jaunty costume, to cheer my employees. "Let's brew up some beer, and make it snappy!" I say, dancing a jig in the hollowed-out carcass. They don't laugh.

For 12 years we have scraped and saved, eking out the barest of livings, scrambling to get beer brewed in time to fill special orders or competitions and missing them - Every. Single. One - by a matter of minutes or, in one particular case, a second.

It is a life of frustration. I am starting to resent my staff as I watch them shamble around this garage. I would hire someone else, but I can't afford to.

I will put on the crocodile skin, and I will dance one more time. Once more we will brew. Once more the people will taste our beer, brewed from mystery recipes found on the corpses of mangled rodents. What other choice do I have?

A review

In Fiz, you run a small brewery and take it from garage-dwelling obscurity to great success. Or, if you're like me, you run a small brewery into the ground and survive on charity rather than any particular brewing nous. (I am not very good at Fiz.)

You brew and sell beer to earn money and increase the skill-set of your employees, and then you use said money to buy better equipment, higher-quality ingredients, and more prestigious recipes and outlets, allowing you to earn even more money.

It's not dissimilar to the very popular Game Dev Story, but with beer instead of games. Fiz isn't unforgiving - there's always the option, when you run out of money, to knock up a quick batch of godawful lager and flog it to a friend of yours - but it is hard, in that I found myself struggling with a cashflow problem from the very outset that I could never really fix.

The game feels slow. There's a sense of toil to everything you do - a wearying fog of missed opportunities and confusion over, for example, why your beers are selling well sometimes and others not well at all.

A job

There are ways to learn: market research, and customer feedback, the potential to vary your yield and your quality to favour seasonal trends, and so on. But all this very quickly begins to feel like work. Not fun.

Despite the quirky challenges, the narrative competition between you and your rivals, the wide array of novelty characters who can brew for you, this is a grind.

Watching your characters brew is dull, and the mechanic of rats dashing across the screen for you to tap and earn - as mentioned above - spare change or recipe fragments is a pretty transparent way of keeping you involved during an otherwise passive process.

If you like beer, you might enjoy this game (but you'd have to really like beer.) If you want to pretend to run a beer business in your spare time, one with plenty of bells and whistles and crocodile costumes but not much in the way of intrinsic entertainment, this is right up your alley.

You can experiment with recipes and rush out quick batches to fill emergency orders, or take your time and craft a perfect brew. You can fill market demand. You can become the best brewer in all the land.

But if you don't come to the game brimming with enthusiasm for the subject matter there's very little about it that will sway you.

Fiz is clearly a labour of love, and it's not short on charm. But, unfortunately, beer and 16-bit sprites can only improve a dull game so much.
Fiz: The Brewery Management Game
Reviewer photo
Grant Howitt | 2 January 2014
Ambitious and full of promise, but essentially dull. Which is sad
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