Available earlier this year on PC, Ship Graveyard Simulator arrives on Xbox, so grab your sledgehammer and let’s go Ship Wrecking.
Simulation games allow us to fight fires, fly planes, mow lawns, power wash and now, wreck ships, or at least part of them, in a vaguely similar system to the fantastic Hardspace: Shipbreaker, you’re tasked with extracting all the useful resources from your wreck, and making as much money as possible.
Rather than destroying the entire ship, you’re limited to spare metal, pipes and poles, most metal structures can be taken apart with the help of a sledgehammer, saw, or blowtorch. And the resulting resources can be collected and taken back to sell or to be refined in to something more valuable at the nearby foundry.
Upon first starting my career, I had a wander around and found plenty of resources scattered by nearby wrecks, I collected these, filled the back of my van, then head back home to sell them to the market that’s conveniently situated opposite my house.
Even without a designated challenge, I was able to gain enough for my first few upgrades and a couple of levels to start working through the skill trees.
Buy a stronger hammer, your first saw or a lockpick, you’ll eventually want all three, as each unlock different opportunities to obtain more resources, and there’ll be plenty more a little later on.
The more resources you get, the more you’ll level up, and as well as awarding upgrade tokens for the aforementioned skill trees, that mostly work to increase the efficiency of a tool or add more inventory slots.
But every 5 levels, you’ll unlock a selection of new ships. From the start you’ll only have access to one boat, with fairly easy to obtain common resources. But within a few hours you’ll start unlocking more complex and larger ships, that will require more tools to loot completely, with the reward of rarer resources that will sell for much more money.
Upon selecting a ship, it’s delivered to the coast at 8am, after the short drive of about 200 metres, you can set to work, and while the earlier small ships might only take one or two in-game days to completely empty, latter ships get BIG and are likely to take you almost a game-week to finish, even if you’re working late into the night.
With the more valuable resources now available there’s a few options open, you can head to the workshop, to store some for later use, or fire up the forge to combine preset recipes to create rare resources. These don’t offer much premium from selling the separate resources, but most building upgrades will need at least a few of these ‘forge only’ rare resources.
Upgrading building opens further options, such as the new market will unlock more weapons and stronger variations of existing ones, while upgrading the workshop will increase storage, which can be Invaluable when you’re saving up some hard to find resources. Theres also barracks that can be built, allowing you to enjoy nearby workers, who will leave collected resources in a chest for you to pick up the following day.
Initially your first few workers might only be bringing home oil and steel, earning you a profit of a few hundred dollars per day, but the more you use them, the more experienced staff you’ll be able to employ and while these will charge you a higher daily wage, they’ll also start bringing back more profitable resources.
Overall it’s a smooth gameplay loop, there’s a little repetition creep in later through the game, but initially the introduction of these extra buildings, workers, new tools and more expensive resources are all introduced fluently without an overload, making the first 4-5 hours consistently entertaining and rewarding, it’s likely to take about 10 hours to unlock all of the ships, and twice as long to work through them all. It can feel a little samey, as you look for resource A, to create resource B, to throw it in the pot for upgrade C. But the way it all falls together means while it can innevitably feel repetitive, it never really feels like a chore.
Controls are a little simple, although with jump on the B button and crouch on the d-pad , it’s not the most familiar control scheme however it doesn’t hinder progress and as you get used to it, it’s simple enough to navigate.
With the skill tree system, buying upgrades, and changing tools are all straight forward, there’s really not that much to complain about gameplay side, except a few collision detection issues which are more graphical in nature.
Moving on to the graphics and we start to see a fair few negatives. As you’ll see from the screenshots, Ship Graveyard Simulator looks a little basic, designed for lower spec PC’s little has been done to utilise the powerful next-gen consoles and in action, you notice some considerable pop-in with trees only a hundred metres ahead.
On the boats and ships, it’s much better, but there’s rarely anything going off in the background. The saving grace is, it runs lovely and smooth, I didn’t encounter a single slowdown, it’s just a shame they didn’t do more to make the game look and feel a little more modern, and then the smooth framerate might feel like a bit of an achievement.
Audio is another area that could have done with a little more work, it’s not terrible, but if you decide to break ships with your favourite play-list in your ears Instead, you’re not going to miss anything.
Unfortunately it’s incredibly common that Simulation games fall short in presentation, which will put a lot of newcomers off, but if like me, you enjoy working hard (virtually), Ship Graveyard Simulator offers a fun and unique game, with an easy to manage gameplay loop.
Everything from how the power and speed of tools improve, to the introduction of new tools, ships and resources just make Ship Graveyard Simulator easy to recommend, fantastic value at £10.74 (and available for less at the time of writing), it’s a unique simulation, that keeps things simple and doesn’t rely on convoluted twists to extend your enjoyment.
Graphics and Audio could have both been much, much better, but if you enjoy a simulation game thats simple enough to be entertaining, but deep enough to be engrossing, you’re likely to find Ship Graveyard Simulator a refreshing game.
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