Build and manage your own factories in Factorio
You've crash landed on an unknown planet, and are all alone without any equipment or shelter. What you do have are a whole lot of raw resources at your disposal and all the time in the world -- provided the hordes of roach-like creatures don't kill you first.
Factorio, a base-building strategy game created by indie developer Wube Software, is a fairly deep game, offering players a wide range of building and automation options. Explore the area, find resources, build simple structures, do research, develop electricity and automation, and build more elaborate structures. You can do it all. Just don't forget about setting up your defenses, or it will all be for nothing.
Plenty to do...
Like many resource building games, Factorio is not heavy on narrative. That simply isn't the game's focus. However, that doesn't mean you won't still spend hours at a time in the game, as it offers plenty of options on how to play.
In it's current state, Factorio offers four campaigns that also function as tutorials, three custom scenarios (with the option to create your own), a map generator (also known as Free Play), and co-op multiplayer. I'd highly recommend playing the campaigns before jumping into the other modes as they will give you a much-needed handle on the production process.
As with most world building games, you're going to start out small...chopping down trees, mining coal, and various ores, crafting weapons and tools, and putting the foundation in place for your impressive factories. While doing the small things, you'll expend some of your resources on research to be able to build larger structures and automate the production of smaller things. Start off with steam-run machines and move up to generating your own electricity. Build radar dishes to help you find out what's out there -- it could be other people.
Depending on the mode you're playing in -- and the map -- you'll be spending quite a bit of time carefully balancing your activity between building your factories and other structures and building up defenses against the nasties running around out there.
You will also be given different objectives depending on what mode you are in. Each campaign will offer a variety of objectives, partially as a portion of the tutorial. The map generator will drop you into a free-play mode after allowing you to customize your settings. Once in, it will ask you to build a rocket to explore space.
A lot to learn...
Even with the tutorial-type campaign mode, there's still a lot you'll have to figure out on your own. There are quite a few recipes (or blueprints) available in the game. Some are available right away. Others you'll need to research; investing not only time but resources.
Luckily, there's already a well-edited wiki that will help you right along with a lot of that. Since there's a lot to remember in the game, you'll likely want to keep it on hand.
Combat in Factorio is a more defensive than offensive endeavor; and in some modes it can be made almost inconsequential based on your map creation preferences. While you will build defenses around and within your factory to protect it, you'll still need to keep yourself armed as well, especially if you intend to explore a lot. You'll be able to build better personal weapons and armor as you go along to help out with that.
Being smart about it...
The really cool thing about Factorio is that you don't only have to rely on weapons in order to defend yourself against biters, spitters, and worms. If you're creative enough, you can come up with solutions using your factory assets to create additional defenses.
The community has already come up with brilliant defense management concepts, and I can only imagine things will get more creative as the game is expanded upon -- both by the devs and the modding community.
Speaking of mods...
Yes, there is room in the game for mods. You'll even find a tab dedicated to it when you launch the game. The game only comes with the "Base Mod" at purchase (at least for right now), but I expect we'll be seeing plenty more as the community grows and the developers continue to update the game.
A pretty detailed pixel game...
Graphically speaking, Factorio delivers nicely -- especially for a game with a pixel art style. Every item is nicely detailed and you'll have no problem telling even the most similar sprites apart. This is good because you're going to have so much going on after a while that you'll need to be able to see everything well. With any luck, you'll have a massive factory with lots of parts to keep track of...as well as protect from invading critters.
A beautiful soundtrack...
Upon first playing the game, I'd highly suggest taking a listen to the soundtrack. It is gorgeous. You may want to do a little adjusting on the audio before going in, however... especially if playing the campaign modes. The alert sounds can be a bit much and really mask the music.
It's not a small soundtrack either. The music is actually available separately on Steam and there are 26 pieces on the album. That's a pretty solid selection for any game.
Is it worth the price?
Ah, the real question... It always comes down to money. At $20, Factorio is not the cheapest indie game you'll ever come across. But then, it's not cheaply designed. A lot of thought went into the production of this game and it shows.
The game has a variety of options that allow players to adjust it to fit their personal playstyle and, with updates and mods, will likely introduce even more in the future. Because it is a building game, players will likely find themselves spending hours in it. (Don't worry, you can save as you go along.) Replayability wise... well, with the options of free-play, the map creator and a (slightly limited for now) co-op mode, there's a lot of room for replayability. All that considered, $20 is not all that hefty of a price tag.
In fact, the only real complaint anyone might be able to have about the game is the amount of time they're going to find themselves putting into it. There's a lot to learn and it does take a while to get things done; especially starting out.
Because of the time and patience required, as well as the lack of narrative, you likely will find yourself needing something else to do while playing. After a while, I just set one of my favorite shows to run in the background and watched it while playing. After that, time flew by and it was hours before it even hit me how much time I'd spent in the game.
So, yes, it is fair to say that the game is worth the price. Between what is already in the game and all the possible things that can be added with mods and updates, anyone who loves building and strategy games will more than get their money out of Factorio for a long time to come.