A while back, I wrote a preview for a little game passed through KickStarter called Gold Rush: The Game by Play Way. I was secretly hoping for some sort of historical reenactment of being a happy prospector, but what I got was more in the vein of a simulation of being a gold digger in modern Alaska. Even though it wasn't a huge cinematic masterpiece, I appreciated it in the same way I like Euro Truck Simulator, Viscera Cleanup Detail, or any of the Tycoon games when you aren't just tormenting your innocent customers. The stakes aren't high, the pace is slow, and the progress is incredibly gradual, but I found the whole experience relaxing. The full version of the game is a lot like that except buggier and woefully incomplete. This definitely isn't something for everyone, it certainly isn't something I would play all day every day, but I can honestly say that a more complete version could have been worth my time. Gold Rush: The Game could definitely be something to check out once they fix the laundry list of bugs and glitches and if they bump down the quite honestly unreasonable RAM requirement. Until then, I'd say maybe just keep your money, but keep an eye on this if you're a fan of realistic simulators.
Gold Rush: The Game is available on Steam for $19.99
To its credit, the game does now have a bit more of a story. You're a guy who wants to own a gold excavation business, and so you start by renting a parcel of land from a kindly old former miner and then over time with enough dedication and grind you can hire workers, buy new equipment, and corner the market.
I will just say this now: this game consists almost entirely of monotonous grind. I found the experience very calming when it was functioning. It's something I would put on when the weather is bad, just make a cup of tea, turn the sound off or down, pull up a movie, and let myself lose track of the time as I just perform the rituals. If you're looking for a fast-paced experience, maybe with a lot of action and adventure with a ton of different settings, this is not the game for you.
When you start at tier 1, you rend a parcel of land for next to nothing and you have nothing but some basic gear so you will need to just shovel some dirt into a pan for a while then run some water through it. Not that you know that, there isn't a proper tutorial, you have to go looking for the first things you need to do which is a little obnoxious, but it isn't like you need to go searching too much. The gold income is super small, but the nice part is that you don't need to grind too hard before you get the big heavy equipment. After you get a bit over an ounce you get a note that says "wow that's a big gold nugget!" and you get enough gold to buy the equipment to get the game started proper.
Tier II onward
The process is long and arduous, but it does allow you to eventually hire on some new workers, get some new land parcels, and increase production. It's an endless cycle, you harvest gold and upgrade your equipment so you can get gold faster and get better equipment faster. Like I said, the stakes aren't exactly high. There are so many ways to improve your operation I would have had to play nonstop for weeks if not months to be able to see everything. According to the game they are going to be adding even more, which I think is exciting but first they should fix a few of the more glaring issues.
A lot of this game is spent in vehicles, and that's good because the vehicles are honestly the game's strongest point. That isn't to say that they're easy to control or that they're smooth or graceful. Quite the contrary, they're huge and clunky and I love driving them. The ability to constantly have the controls up makes the process easy enough. You're never in any particular hurry to make a split-second decisions so I think it's fine to have some more complex controls provided you can always see what the controls are. All of the heavy machinery moves slowly and awkwardly, but that all worked towards making me feel like I was actually operating those very machines. If the game's pace was even a little faster the controls would infuriate me to no end, but as is I would call the experience slow, but satisfying.
Bugs and glitches
This game could have used a lot more development before getting released in full. The collision detection is awful, on more than one occasion I got stuck inside something or I lost a good chunk of a load of dirt because I tried to dump it in too close to the cleaner. These aren't things that can't be fixed in future patches, but this game really needs better optimization. The world isn't all that big and doesn't have many moving parts, so I have no idea why it needs 16 gigs of RAM. Far bigger and honestly better games have required at most about 8. This requirement makes the game pretty inaccessible to anyone who didn't build their own hulked out gaming PC. I didn't really have many real problems in my playthrough, just a few loading issues and one crash, but looking at the reviews a lot of others have had far more severe problems. That said, when your minimum system requirements are so steep maybe they aren't the ones with the problem.
Oh also, in this vein here's a big complaint: There is as of right now no autosave function. I don't mind some bugs but I would at least appreciate the developers to have had the self-awareness to add a commonplace feature to maybe compensate for the fact that the crashing is a known issue. Like I said, I only had the one, but I'm not used to having to manually save so often in games that aren't Pokemon, so that one crash made me needlessly lose hours of progress.
Graphics and audio
The music was one of my little points of contention in the preview, but Play Way really brought their A game to the full release. When I first opened the game I was suddenly slammed in the face with some of the most epic and bombastic music on this side of the Song of the Dovahkiin from Skyrim. It does mellow out once you're in the game proper which is good, it would lose its effect otherwise. Between that and the ambient sounds, I would say Gold Rush: The Game is definitely a treat for the ears. At least until you mute it to listen to something else.
At its core, Gold Rush: The Game has promise for the crowd that likes to just mindlessly go about monotonous tasks for hours every now and again. Which isn't everyone, it certainly isn't me all the time. That said, the strong core doesn't completely forgive the constant bugs, the crashes, and the steep system requirements that I know most people can't meet. The whole game feels like a barely finished beta released to satiate the Kickstarter backers who were told it would be released in September. I suppose that isn't a bad deal for the people who got the game expecting it to be a work in progress, but it's almost insulting to those who go onto Steam thinking they're buying a full and fully functional game. The demo I played felt a lot smoother and more complete than the game itself. I'm not saying Gold Rush: The Game is rotten to the core, in fact I would call the core the most solid part of the game. They are releasing frequent patches, so I wouldn't say it's dead on arrival. Perhaps later it could become a simulator everyone talks about, but until then you need to dig deep for the nuggets of quality.
|+ Powerful-feeling machines||– Steep RAM requirement|
|+ Lots of goals to work up to||– Constant crashes and glitches|
|+ Beautiful graphics and music||– Slow gameplay isn't for everyone|
|– No autosave|