BigFest – Review

Title   BigFest
Developer  On The Metal Ltd
Publisher  SCEE
Platform  PlayStation Vita
Genre  Strategy, Management
Release Date  December 1, 2015

The biggest casualty of the mobile games boom has been the humble construction/management simulator. In the ’90s, this genre had you running hospitals, theme parks, dinosaur parks, or anything else that had a business angle to it and the games were wildly popular. Unlike other genres, this one hasn’t gone away. Instead, what happened to it was worse.

As soon as publishers figured out how to incorporate IAPs and enforce wait times, this genre became actual piss. There are plenty of the games out there but all of them are bullshit. So, it is with great pleasure that I can confirm that BigFest, is entirely free of that nonsense.

The game puts you in charge of a music festival. You handle everything from the toilets to the merchandise stalls and even booking the bands (and looking after their ridiculous demands). Ultimately, the game is about making sure everyone has a good time.

The structure of the game is quite smart. Each festival is represented as a poster. You book bands by dragging their name onto the poster and on the back are three objectives to complete. These can range from building certain things, booking specific types of band, ejecting unwanted visitors and a whole host of other things. At first these act as short tutorials but not for long. After a while you will be on your own, but the game isn’t particularly complicated so this isn’t a problem.

On the Vita, you moving the screen around with the analogue sticks and holding the left shoulder button puts you into a top-down, zoomed-out view (which is great for spotting potential issues). Your interactions with the game all happen via the touchscreen but it’s a simple and effective interface. If the game had been more complicated, things may have been a bit more fiddly but BigFest‘s progression is quite linear.

For example, to upgrade your stage requires a lot of money but you can only hold a certain amount of money unless you upgrade your security office and so on. Objectives tend to be linked in that way.

The game generally guides you towards your next task. Little icons above your festivalgoers’ heads will indicate what their current issues are. Some will want hot drinks, others will want to buy merch, and most of them will be complaining about the toilets. It’s up to you to make sure their needs are catered for or else they’ll be leaving. There are no failure conditions though. Even if you piss off a band so badly that they decide not to go on stage. So in terms of pressure, BigFest is a very relaxed game. Veteran tycoon gamers may find it all a bit too sedate (and easy) but I enjoyed the pace, and there is something satisfying about clearing out a load of rubbish from your festival grounds and then setting up that area for tents or showers or something. OCD freaks will enjoy the game if nothing else.

An interesting element to the game is the music. The bands you book are actually real unsigned bands. It’s a fun way to get those bands exposure, and it will introduce you to some new music (not that I’ve found anything I don’t hate so far). It does rely on having a decent WiFi signal but you can also play the game offline too.

Visually, the game is pretty basic but I don’t fault it for that. My favourite Civilization game is the first one because the graphics never got in the way of the game. These games are all about information and BigFest does an okay job of getting that information into your retinas.

Beyond that, there isn’t much to say. The simplicity of the game may put many off but I enjoyed it. A lot of that was due to the setting and the sense of humour, but there is a game here too and I’ve burned through an entire Vita battery charge on it more than once now.

  • Interesting setting
  • Good sense of humour
  • Easy to play and understand
  • No IAPs!
  • A little too basic
  • Can be repetitive
  • Average visuals

I like BigFest. It has a sense of fun to it and it is a great game to chill out with. The complete lack of IAPs are also a huge plus for me. It's not an in-depth management simulator and that's why it is good. If you want business gaming then you're a wrong 'un anyway.

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