Adventure time! Once again, we get a fantasy world, where we can grab a sword, torch or a magic staff, and plunder, burn and... wait, why are you giving me a broom and a rag? What do you mean I have to clean up this stain and order a keg of beer? What "customers?" I'm a hero, Goddamn it! A slayer of necromancers and demons! Not some... innkeeper! Wait, what? What do you mean I'm not?
- detailed strategic layer;
- complex gameplay;
- building and developing the inn is satisfying and engaging;
- solid audiovisuals.
- a boring world that makes poor use of the fantasy setting;
- not the best campaign scenario, full of exaggerated characters;
- bugs related to character movement;
- too little control over the priorities at the inn.
Well, not really, at least not in the game conceived by the Warsaw-based Kraken Unleashed Studio. The developers created a fantasy game, in which our main task will not be killing virgins and rescuing dragons, but rather managing an inn, where peasants are looking for a mug of beer, nobles for some fun, travelers for a warm bed, and criminals for a chance to nick a gold purse. That's all. But that's also a lot, contrary to what you might think after all, we all know how important innkeepers are. Did the developers manage to achieve their goals? Unfortunately not quite, but this production is worth a look if you just like economic strategies and have a bit of patience. Okay, a lot of patience.
From zero to innkeeper
The basis of gameplay in Crossroads Inn seems to be quite simple it's a combination of classic economic strategy with something that resembles a simplified version of... The Sims. We start the game by building and furnishing the establishment, and the selection of options and decorations is quite rich, with the editor giving players extensive possibilities in terms of realizing their architectural fantasies.
Once the inn is built, we have to make sure it doesn't run out of all the necessary things, such as alcohol, food ingredients, lamp oil, firewood, or candles. We buy these goods from merchants in local settlements, and its important not only to find the best offer, but analyze all remaining costs we pay for transport, so it's usually more profitable to buy wholesale however, our budget often doesn't allow that. It's necessary to find a healthy balance between all current needs, and plan for the future, which should lead to greater savings.
The perils of gastronomy
Our responsibilities also include management of personnel. Initially, the story campaign gives us control over just a single person, but we soon get the opportunity of expanding the team, and, over time, we're also able to recruit characters that offer special services. All the characters were described with a range of feats (such as loyal, lazy, or energetic) and may belong to one of several roles, specializing in various duties required at the inn. A local muscle will be very useful for chopping wood and carrying heavy stuff, he may also sweep the floor, but don't expect him to be great with serving the customers, or overhearing valuable tidbits and gossip (there's a nice mechanic here the rumors are a currency, which you can use for various purposes, such as getting better prices, recruiting a valuable employee, or prolonging a bank loan).
The skills of the employees develop over time, as do our avatar's abilities meeting campaign goals unlocks points, which can be invested in the development tree. This gives us access to new services and capabilities. From time to time, we talk to NPCs, developing our rhetoric skills and it's worth noting that the dialogues are often extremely useful for the operation of the inn.
In practice, the staff management system is rather passive. We can't give direct commands, although we can initiate or stop a break, praise or scold them, and give them a bonus (to increase morale). As a rule, however, we only prioritize tasks that need to be done, and indicate which rooms need attention first. If you get it right, the inn runs like a fine Swiss watch. Unfortunately, this is not always the case (more on this later).
The level of complexity and diversification of the strategic layer is really great. For example, guests are divided into categories they have different preferences regarding the decor of the rooms and dishes, and even have a preference regarding the level of ambient lighting in the rooms (criminals prefer shadows, while others aren't comfortable without enough light). We can also hire town-criers that will advertise our place, and look for adventurers who can complete some special tasks we have, offering certain bonuses. Everything works well, and the game can be really engrossing if you don't mind the kind of productions, where you passively observe the characters execute your orders.