Panning for bits of excellence in the river of my mind …

The game I didn’t know I was looking for …

Back in November, I was flipping channels on YouTube and came across a video from Let’s Game it Out. This is a channel run by a guy named Josh who enjoys trying out new games, seeing how badly he can break the rules of the game (and often the frame-rate) and making videos about it with lots of snarky commentary. I see absolutely nothing but good things in that combination and, as a programmer, I have a healthy amount of grudging respect for the idea of testing software to destruction.

The video I found had the intriguing title of “I Built a 600 Meter Human Cannon that Ends All Existence” which ensured that I just had to check it out. The thumbnail told me it was a simulation game of some kind which seems to be Josh’s bread and butter.

I few minutes in, I knew I was going to buy this game and spend way more time on it than was healthy for me and my other priorities.

Satisfactory from Coffee Stain Studios is a first-person simulation game in which you land on an alien planet, start mining resources and build your own sprawling factory complex. In the process and under the guidance of your employer, the FICSIT corporation, you fight off local wildlife (and some fairly aggressive plants), research new technologies and explore the local terrain. The Early Access edition is currently available on Steam and other sites.

The planet has some pretty diverse settings with four different landing sites from the Grass Fields for beginners to the Dune Desert for the experienced. Each setting poses its own challenges for working your way through the levels. All the landing sites are part of the same map so, if you want, you can start your factory in one and then fight your way to another to start a second base there.

To put it simply, this game is one of the most insidious time-sinks I’ve ever encountered. It is shockingly easy to lose an hour or three just by starting the game with the intention of doing a few odd things. It’s a game that is designed to completely immerse the player in an open-ended world with gorgeous graphics and endless possibilities for exploration and engineering. My standard refrain while playing this is “Okay, I really need to quit now but just let me take care of ONE … MORE …. THING ….”.

The game actually does keep track and regularly remind you of just how many hours you’ve willingly surrendered to this world which is both helpful and completely pointless at the same time. I’ve uninstalled the game a couple times and even deleted my save files to force myself to focus on other things. It doesn’t matter. A couple weeks later, the hour-long download to reinstall is just a warm-up for fun times ahead.

I haven’t found much to complain about with Satisfactory. Again, the graphics and artwork is incredible and the game is challenging without being so stinking hard as to discourage. There’s also something for everyone. If you just like building, I’ve heard there are ways to turn off the local animal life so you don’t have to fight them. If you’re bored with building, you can go out and explore new territory and hunt down some beasts. Some people build huge, elaborate factory buildings or focus on endlessly tweaking production efficiency. There are also collectibles which are often located in hard-to-get-to places so that’s an extra challenge.

To see just how big and detailed the Satisfactory world is, you can check my first YouTube video on the game where I show off the hypertube system I built from my factory in the Dune Desert back to the location of one of my previous factories down in the grasslands. I only regret that the game doesn’t allow for the merging of game sessions and the import of previously built factories.

If I had to complain about anything, it would be some of the arbitrary time requirements that are set. The map is littered with crash sites of other “explorers” who weren’t quite so lucky and these sites contain hard drives that can be scanned within the game for alternate factory recipes. Each drive takes 10 minutes to scan. A couple of the other factory parts take an unusual amount of time to manufacture and the final game tiers require an insane number of parts to unlock – parts that can’t be used for anything else at this point. On the other hand, those requirements do force you to expand your factory’s size and capabilities which means doing more exploration.

So, if you’re looking for a good, creative game that you can lose yourself in, possibly forever … Satisfactory is definitely worth checking out.

Other game resources …

Satisfactory Calculator – This is a great site where you can upload and edit your save files to see everything you’ve developed plotted on the game map. There are also resource calculators and other tools.

Official Satisfactory Wiki – Hosted by Gamepedia, this wiki will answer any question you have about factory buildings, flora and fauna, game technologies and more.

Official Reddit Community – Chat with other players and share game strategies or upload screenshots of your own mega-factory.