Workers and Resources: Soviet Republic is a real time city builder with a big emphasis on resource management and creating a self sufficient society that doesn’t depend on outside imports or man power in order to survive and thrive. It’s still in early access which means it’s not fully finished and the goal of this review is to help you decide if it’s worth buying in its current state.
It’s a really challenging game with a fairly steep learning curve compared to other city building games, but despite the added difficulty that made me question my own intelligence on more than one occasion, it’s actually really addictive and enjoyable to play! It feels like a mix between Cities Skylines and Transport Fever 2 while adding plenty of new ideas to make it feel really unique. The game takes place during the height of the soviet era from 1960 to 1990 and your main objective is to create a sustainable republic that mines its own coal, processes its own oil and builds its own cars, planes and trains. The key is to optimize your industry setups to operate at peak efficiency. There’s tons of different resources, products and vehicles to play around with and you’re able to build complex conveyor belt setups to connect different factories and storage yards. On top of that you can buy loads of different trains, trucks, diggers, trams and even cable cars to help your citizens and tourists get to where they’re going, be it a mountain lodge for tourists or a dirty old coal mine for the locals. You also need to build and maintain multiple towns and cities on a single map and set up transportation routes to ferry the workers from the towns to the factories and mines. You’ve got to make sure there’s always enough workers available to cover shift changes otherwise it can lead to a total shut down of production which can have some dramatic consequences, so building an effective transport network is extremely important.
The maps are randomly generated and you can choose to start with an existing population or a completely blank canvas depending on your playstyle. Making money in any meaningful amount is exceptionally difficult and requires a long and intricate production chain to pull off. There’s 2 currencies in the game, dollars and rubles, and you’re able to fund building projects and buy resources using either currency. The edges of the map represent your borders with neighboring states where one side is aligned with NATO and the other with the Soviet Union, and you can make more of each currency by shipping goods like steel and oil to a customs office located along each sides border. It’s up to you which side you sell to and there’s different vehicles available for each currency. As I mentioned earlier though your main goal is ultimately to become self sufficient as soon as possible. By using a construction office you’re able to buy vehicles like bulldozers and road rollers that together with locally sourced labor, can use materials you’ve mined and processed in other industrial areas to build things like roads, residential buildings and new factories. Once your town’s populated you need to make sure they have a reliable source of electricity, heat and basic services which you can either import or manufacture yourself. Temperatures plummet during the winter and electricity consumption increases during the night. Unlike other city builders there’s no tax income, so any money you spend has to be replenished by exporting a product.
The AI takes care of most tasks automatically once you’ve bought or manufactured the vehicles and services they need. They send their kids to daycare themselves, they find the nearest transport link or workplace on their own and construction offices and factories take care of construction and manufacturing as long as they have staff and materials to work with. On the surface, building a self sufficient republic for free by doing all the work yourself and then export everything you make to make loads of money sounds easy, but getting all the pieces to fit together to maximize production and keep your citizens happy so they don’t escape requires a lot of skill and planning and that’s where the game excels. Graphically it’s honestly pretty gross but in an intentionally bleak, Soviet sort of way and the music is insanely catchy. The performance is good and I didn’t have any fps issues. If you find that it’s too difficult, the game does offer difficulty options so it can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be, there’s even a sandbox mode with unlimited money so you can never go bankrupt.
Basically if you’ve ever wanted a more in-depth city builder with an emphasis on worker and resource management and you’re not put off by the hopeless soviet-style graphics then this is definitely worth a look. Although I ultimately failed to create a sustainable republic that didn’t end in bankruptcy, the addictive and slow paced gameplay always kept me coming back for more and we recommend checking it out.