Well we’ve got Tavern Tuesday and Thirsty Thursday, it might be time to launch Tycoon Tuesday! If previous reviews were not clear, I generally dislike these kinds of games and Idle Inn Empire is no exception. They’re an unenviable part of the landscape when it comes to tavern games, which begs the question: should I be covering them?
Thoughts for another day, I suppose. For now, let’s get this over with.
Damning intros aside, this game isn’t all bad. I tend to review games against their aesthetics and immersion, and Idle Inn Empire actually has a very pleasant aesthetic. Cartoonish graphics with chunky polygons are always enjoyable. The voxel-like décor is very nice as well. Seeing them upgrade from one variation to another is nice enough; literal stumps transform into lovely barstools, and so on. I would have no problem spending some time in one of these inns were the game around it better.
In fact, that was one of the pleasures of the game: poking around the inn, watching patrons, little dudes with side-shaves, get cleaned up, eliminate, eat, drink, and walk off angry when there aren’t enough rooms.
Let’s also be clear on another point: the core game loop is not terrible. It’s standard fare: build, sell, upgrade. As a tycoon game it bears many similarities Tavern Tycoon. That game was not my cup of tea, but for some people it’s okay. Yet, Idle Inn Empire is most certainly a tycoon/management game, so a tuff like this can happen all the time:
It’s all about raking in as much gold as possible and moving on to the next tavern. As such, and again not unlike Tavern Tycoon, the immersion factor is lost because even a pretty tavern with charming(ish) characters can’t save you when you’re drowning in the red side of a ledger. There is, to put it bluntly, very little vibe here.
On top of that, this is an extreme example of the worst type of mobile game. The ui is a smattering of ads intended to get you to buy more in-game currency. I don’t know what this is categorized as; pay-to-win? Idle, I guess? In any case, there are many creative ways in which they go for your wallet. Representatives of the King show up in your tavern, often and with blaring trumpets, offering his “investment.” That means paying real U.S. dollars or watching an ad for game gold. Otherwise, if you want more that fine dragon bait, you must wait. And wait. Because it’s an idle game. And every time you log back in? There are at least two ads to click past before you’re back inside.
I tried to give Idle Inn Empire an honest chance. In the end, this game is what you make of it. If you’re able to slap some blinders on and ignore the cluttered, ad-infested UI (or you have the means to just buy the stuff), Idle Inn Empire might be an enjoyable way to transport yourself into a cartoonish inn and pass some time in the car or while you wait in line. It’s also extremely casual because you really have to wait to do stuff; so popping in for a few minutes at a time is not a bad way to play. Then it becomes a simple question: is seeing a few more bottles added to my bar a fitting reward for letting this game sit in my pocket for a few hours? I played for a solid three days and felt as though I made very little progress, almost as if you must spend money to advance in a timely fashion.
It is not a tavern experience; it’s an idle management sim. A cute game absolutely obscured by a ravenous business model.