A few days ago, I looked at the Kickstarter of Chinatown Detective Agency and as I wrote in my blog post about the game, I downloaded and played not only the demo of Chinatown Detective Agency, but also of Terroir – a winemaking tycoon game, which is the company’s first game. Once I caught myself wanting to play through one more year – and then another, and another – I decided that for 6,59 € I can’t really do anything wrong and bought the game. I’ve only been playing for a few hours, so as usual, this is more a first impression than anything else.
The game goes on for 100 years at which point you will receive a final score. You won’t have to quit then, but can continue playing without it counting to the score anymore. A very good solution, if you ask me. Giving you a challenge to get a high score, but also letting you just play for as long as you want.
I already managed to make several 5 star Cabernet Sauvignons, but other than that and Chardonnay, I haven’t yet had the chance to try out the other kinds the game lets you grow. You start with only one kind and I chose Cabernet Sauvignon because it was the cheapest option. Most of the time in simulation games like these, you’re best off getting the cheapest things first. It seems to be that way here as well. After a few years, I felt comfortable and rich enough to expand to Chardonnay which I’ve given up on a bit later again. It just made more sense to only focus on getting one kind of wine right for now. The weather is just as unpredictable as it is in reality. It’s important to get the grapes to ripen just enough throughout the season. Ripeness should be between 4 and 6. You can cut your vine’s leaves or let them grow in order to adjust accordingly. But you’re still dependent on the weather, of course. And then there’s things like fruitflies or fungal rot affecting your fields as well.
I also just realized that my vines are infested and have a chance of dying. How great! I have no idea how to solve that yet, but the game actually does offer a handbook (inside the game as one of the menu buttons) that tells you quite a lot about all the different things you need to know and pay attention to. The interface per se is easy to navigate and use, but when you pause the game, open the menu and close it again, the game automatically continues. I really wish it stayed paused, because I do sometimes want to read something in the handbook and then check my vineyard with that knowledge and it’s tiresome having to click “pause” all the time. The shears to cut back the leaves have a cooldown and you can’t click on four tiles fast, but have to wait for the cooldown to be over first before cutting on the next tile. It took me a long time to figure that out and I kept thinking it was bugged!
What I find annoying is that each of the three distributors only take a certain amount of bottles and only one kind at once. So, for example, a maximum of 150 bottles of this year’s Cabernet Sauvignon, but then they won’t take any of your Chardonnay or any other wine from the previous harvests. Only when they sold every single bottle, will they take something else from you. You can store a certain amount of bottles in your wine cellar and sell them later, though. I just don’t really like this system much as it seems too restrictive. I once had all three distributors hanging on to less than 20 bottles of wine each while I had hundreds more in my cellar waiting to be sold! However, as the handbook tells you, the lower the wine rating, the longer it will take to sell the bottles (between 2 and 24 months if I remember correctly). So in a way, this problem was my own fault as I clogged the system with bad wine.
I think I’m playing on an easy setting but with the random factors (weather, most of all), it’s not actually that easy to play through. You can always have a very bad year and need to pay attention to your finances all the time. But I guess that makes it just realistic, right? Altogether, I wouldn’t say it’s an amazing game that every tycoon-fan should have (unless they love wine!), but it’s a very good and very solid game that plays perfectly well with no bugs or crashes. It’s not easy either which is always good and keeps you on your toes. Keep in mind, though, that I’ve only just started and haven’t even tried the more difficult grapes. So it could either turn out to be an amazing game, after all, or a really bad and mean game if I keep going bankrupt (which probably wouldn’t be the game’s fault but my own inability to plan properly…). I don’t know that much about wine, but everything I see fits to the knowledge that I have. So my assumption here is that it’s a very realistic approach and the acidity, sweetness etc. ratings fit to each kind of wine. At least, when I tried to get the acidity and the sweetness to where I would expect what I’d call a “good Cabernet Sauvignon”, I got a 5 star rating! A little Google search says I’m right. Apparently, even wine education institutes showed interest in using the game for lessons!
There’s only one downside to the game: I cannot play it without craving a glass of wine! Preferrably one with a better rating than the one I got for this wine…