1849 Review

1849 Review

There’s gold in them thar hills – and in this Gold Rush management sim for iPad and Andorid too

There are moments in 1849 that prove to be genuinely stressful; times when you feel your heart beating because things aren’t going quite right. Whether it is because goals are not being met or you actually care what happens to the citizens of 1849 California at the height of the Gold Rush, it makes for quite a compelling experience.

For those who have never played a city-management sim before, the basic idea is that you create towns and attract workers to them. To retain them, you must make them happy by building lots of houses, ensuring they have somewhere to go to rest – typically the saloon, and giving them plenty of food. Revenue must keep flowing, so you can sell brandy to prospectors in other towns and make and sell bread and other things. Citizens need the means to be self-sufficient to a degree, so you hope they don’t starve, downgrade their homes and flee.

Unlike many games of this type, the complex gameplay is made up of levels with specific targets. It is these which put the pressure on because juggling lots of different balls isn’t always easy. Robbers put a spanner in the works ensuring you need sheriffs, earthquakes can shatter infrastructure and fires can break out. While the actual gameplay is repetitive, it doesn’t always feel like it because you’re moving from different scenarios, be it spartan camps or cramped cities.

Key to the game seems to be to overcompensate: building more houses to attract more people than you can employ, generating more money than you can spend, that sort of thing. You can never really have enough. Yet you still need to balance. There is a sense of stabbing at the screen during panic moments, not quite sure of what you’re doing but with slick presentation, 1849 is a surefire winner.

Rated  out of 5