Gunsmith Early Access Review: Less Gun(g)-ho, More Frugal

Fancy yourself as an arms dealer? Manufacture weapons and accessories in Gunsmith Early Access.

Where to begin with Gunsmith Early Access? On face value, it doesn’t come across as one of the most in-demand titles out there right now; taking control of a factory floor that produces weapons and its associated accessories.

I’m neither pro-gun nor anti, as I’d be a hypocrite with the type of games I play, but on the surface, the theme didn’t appeal to me. But with the likes of Port Royale 4 and similar, it’s fascinating how easy it is to be swallowed up into such a thorough production line.

It’s fair to say that Seacorp SCT has been meticulous in their approach as everything is accounted for in this simulation, from the types of machinery used in your factory, to the products you produce, where you source the goods from and how much you’re paying for them. If management titles are your thing, expect to dive deep in Gunsmith Early Access.

Gunsmith Early Access Review

If I were to recall my first taste of strategy games, in the broad sense, it would probably be Dune II on the Amiga that lured me in. In 2020, we have more than enough sub-genres that expand on simple management to something more complex, and with as much experience as a ‘retro gamer’ could have, learning mechanics can be hard work.

Gunsmith Early Access - Blank slate
A blank slate. Source: Steam

The fundamentals are universal, but tutorials these days are pretty assuming. I enjoyed my experience with Hammerting, but it was far from intuitive, and so many hours were wasted learning the mechanics. Fortunately, Gunsmith Early Access guides you through the basics early on, all accompanied by a rather charming voiceover. It does end a little abruptly leaving a few questions, but there are help files on hand at any point.

Fortunately, Gunsmith Early Access guides you through the basics early on, all accompanied by a rather charming voiceover

While it still takes a bit of time to digest what’s involved, the UI is good enough, and though looking at a factory floor and its associated machinery is as exciting as looking at paint, it was surprising how you soon forget about that and get stuck in.

That last comment wasn’t a stab at the presentation – Gunsmith is as good as a gun manufacturing game could be. Your floor workers are pretty good models, but the accompanying 2D models were a bit cringe, with ‘shifty eyes’ there, I said it. Shouldn’t be insulting the clients as they’re going to buy the AK’s.

A Race To Arms

The goals can shift as there are several games modes with different agendas – money being the catalyst for most. Generally speaking, Gunsmith Early Access follows the same principles as most simulators of its ilk in that you start small and gradually invest in technologies and expand your premises to earn the bigger bucks and military-grade developments.

In some ways, it reminded me a little of Gym Tycoon, only on a much grander scale, but it has the same foundations of expansion and consistently growing. As you can expect, making gloves isn’t why you’re playing the game, but gradually you build a client base to serve.

Gunsmith Early Access - Global
Going global. Source: Steam

Sometimes these customers are a bit dubious but have the money. Do you take it and expand, or do you do the ‘right thing’ and sell to a smaller buyer that who is a bit more transparent in who they’re pointing their gun at? If you came here on a high horse to get ethical about guns, forget it. You’re essentially an arms dealer, but it isn’t real. Or is it…?

But who you sell to is your prerogative – you have mouths to feed, and you want to ensure that the money going into employees pockets is justified as a lot of the time they’re dormant, and you have to do all the grafting.

Get Back To Work

Gunsmith Early Access resembles an indie puzzle title in its placement of equipment. You have to set up every piece of equipment from the input devices to the belts that feed the materials and products to the end line of packaging. From a top-down view, you’d think you’re playing a maze-like puzzle title as your setups become more complex.

My fundamental question is whether this Gunsmith Early Access release offers enough incentive to players, or if it’s for a niche market

Logistically setting up your equipment is one factor; the other is ensuring that each section is operating at the right speed to strike a balance with what you’re manufacturing. Eventually, you get it, and efficiency becomes natural (not without its issues of products jamming or falling off the line), and then it’s the waiting game.

A lot of the game time was waiting – whether it was the physical production side of things, development, or just getting the money to invest in new products, more materials and potential expansion. A downside to expanding is having to set everything back up again. If this doesn’t phase you and you have the time, then you’ll likely enjoy it.

Gunsmith Early Access - Build menu
The Saver’s Menu. Source: Steam

A glaring flaw in my reviewing capabilities, or perhaps I’m just not as demanding as other gamers, I didn’t experience anything that made this feel like an Early Access. It’s apparently been in this state for a couple of years, so it makes sense that it should be on a level that is ready for release. There weren’t any game-breaking issues, bugs or what-not that interrupted my experience.

My fundamental question is whether this Gunsmith Early Access release offers enough incentive to players, or if it’s for a niche market. It’s undoubtedly engaging – especially as you learn the mechanics. I have to say, the music, while occasionally out of place, was excellent and added to the tempo a little. That said, there are lull moments of waiting, and that won’t be for everyone. I have the patience, but not so much the time.

Gunsmith Early Access has mixed reviews on the Steam page. If you’re into the genre, it’s worth looking into, and I’d be in the positive camp as it ticks more boxes than it leaves blank, it’s just a little too demanding of my time and a little unexciting for my tastes.