Business or “Tycoon” sims are a fun “what if” type of game. If I owned a hospital, would I find the perfect system to cure all ills? I owned a theme park, would I create a park to rival the mighty Disney? They allow you to play out your fantasies of being a tycoon and doing it better than anyone else ever did. Homo Ludens are the latest developer to entire this competitive genre with Blooming Business: Casino and they’ve done an admirable enough job.
Featuring anthropomorphic characters, the story starts you out as a visitor to this oddly familiar oasis in the desert. Entering a casino, you are given the chance as a manager of the casino to create your own empire. Naturally, nothing is for free, and navigating the sharks of this Sin City takes skill and a not-insubstantial amount of luck.
Charming story-driven missions
Blooming Business: Casino structures its missions around VIPs – presumably proverbial whales as I didn’t encounter an actual whale in the game – with the focus on meeting their particular needs and wants. Each whale has a favourite drink, favourite décor, and, disturbingly, a favoured game at which they will have the best chance at beating the house. In order to grow your empire, you will need to please these whales, and in order to do that, you will need to create an elaborate casino they will want to visit.
It’s worth touching on the aesthetics at this point as the cartoon style is an interesting choice, and probably a deliberate one to soften the fact that the game is about gambling. Having animals run the casino and spend their time in it gives the game a more relaxed atmosphere. The character design is complemented by themes for the décor giving the game a sense of whimsy. From the zoomed-out perspective, the design looks great.
If you build it will they spend?
Luckily, all the tools you need are available to you, at a cost. Like in any “Tycoon”-style game, you view the world from a three-quarter overhead perspective, and this enables you to design your layout exactly as you wish. Of course, it’s not all fun and games as you have to ensure that all the support services are in place first.
First things, hiring custodial staff will ensure that the casino is spic and span, but for gamers to enjoy your clean casino they need to be shown where to go, so you’ll want a receptionist to direct the guests. The opening tutorial tries its best to guide you through the myriad of nested menus and options and does a decent job. Experienced Theme Hospital and Theme Park players will find their feet quickly, but for newcomers or long-lapsed players, the tutorial can intimidate rather than ease you into the game.
Building up your casino has you swapping between many menus, while trying to watch the real-time happenings on the floor to ensure that you miss nothing. The worst thing that can happen to any aspiring casino boss is to be lost in the joy of creating the perfect area for your poker tables with plenty of access, staff, and the cleanest floors in the world – only to discover your toilets are overflowing and your low-wage receptionist starts getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of gamers wanting to lose their shirts at your tables.
You also cannot focus solely on one aspect of running the casino. Balancing support services with revenue-generated games makes for a successful casino and one of the most important investments is your R&D department. R&D is doubly important as you need to research new games to attract and keep the whales in order to complete the story missions. R&D also lets you, in a way, behind the curtain of a casino, giving you a feel for what it may be like to try and keep ahead of the players and the new entrants that the real casinos must deal with daily.
Continuous R&D improvements keep things fresh as you continuously revamp your casino for the whale, with new décor, drinks menus, and games that are tied to each story mission. It’s a satisfying and interesting gameplay loop and something that feels novel in the genre.
The Business Sims/Tycoon genre generally offers a sandbox mechanic allowing you to create a sprawling campus (shoutout to a recent entrant in the genre intended) and tests your scrolling and multi-tasking skills as it grows to an enormous size. Having story-based missions designed around the whales allows the game to offer players goal-driven gameplay to avoid being overwhelmed. The mission structure also allows for natural breaks so you can actually fit in some real-world breaks between sessions.
That said, for the fans of sandboxes, Blooming Business: Casino offers a traditional sandbox mode. Set your difficulty level, your starting capital, tweak a plethora of other options, and then go wild. Maybe not having the impetus of a narrative goal and a whale to satisfy is more relaxing, but in these days of limited time and, frankly, a declining attention span on my part, I find sandboxes too demanding.
A Cute Sin City Sim
Blooming Business: Casino is a welcome entry into the Business Sim/Tycoon genre that focuses on a rarely featured industry. The cutesy aesthetic belies the complexity of the game mechanics, the sheer panic you will inevitably feel when things start to go wrong, and the exhilaration when you get those breakdowns and disasters under control. If you’re a fan of “sillier” games in the genre, or even the serious one looking for a new industry to grow, this is worth a look.
Blooming Busines: Casino was reviewed on PC using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher.
Blooming Business: Casino (PC) ReviewBlooming Business: Casino (PC) Review
Gameplay8/10 Very Good
Ease of Play7/10 Good
Longevity8/10 Very Good
- Fun story-based game play
- Cute character designs
- Let’s you imagine what you would do if you were a casino tycoon
- Liable to take over all your free time