Cartel Tycoon is an in-development tycoon management game by Moon Moose and publisher tinyBuild. It’s planned for release in Q4, 2020 on Steam and last month I tried the free demo available to everyone. Cartel Tycoon is a story-driven business sim inspired by the ‘80s narco trade. It allows you to act as if you were Pablo Escobar, producing drugs in farms and warehouses, and smuggling them across the border both by car and by plane.
The game simulates every facet of the drug baron experience. Usually with these sim games I get easily overwhelmed with what to do and how to do it. However Cartel Tycoon’s tutorials explain each system well enough and gives easy to understand objectives. You need to establish enough farms to grow ample cannabis and connect these via roads to a laboratory. Too many farms though will decrease the efficiency of the lab, and thankfully the tutorial helps you understand this system well. You also need to make sure you have enough warehouses to store the goods waiting to be processed, and store the finished product.
It’s here you run the risk of having your farms raided by security forces and/or local police. If your farms and warehouses remain full for too long, it raises suspicion which is signified by yellow or red warning signs above each building. If the warning stays red too long, a red/blue flashing glow is placed on the building and you can see police cars travelling slowly from the nearest major city. This gives you a bit of time to offload the drugs out of that building. If the authorities arrive and there are drugs on the premise, that farm or warehouse will be shutdown for a number of days, slowing or cutting off your supply line. I really liked this aspect as not only is it semi-realistic, it meant you had to manage the farms, labs and warehouses yourself without automation and in doing so, gain a good understanding early on of how to manage the resource flow.
You control a drug boss, in my case his name was Felix Vijo, aka El Granjero, and you’re able to directly get him involved in helping move product to and fro. He was particularly adept at taking packaged product to the nearby airport as he could travel faster thank the transport trucks. Later on in the demo, you have him driving from the airport to the nearby city bank to ensure our profits are directly invested, as opposed to being used in upkeep costs. This becomes important later when you have to pay off authorities to keep them away from your operation and to look the other way when your lieutenants start to expand, taking over rival operations with force. You need to be careful how you expand as violence begets violence and can start a vicious cycle of war, crime and punishment.
Failure is part of the overall experience and your initial crime boss can be captured or taken out. In this instance, one of your lieutenants of your choosing will to continue your empire and start rebuilding. The aim is to survive as long as possible, facing roguelike challenges and conditions with each new leader. The demo gives you over an hour of gameplay and I was engaged the whole time, but not once did i feel overwhelmed in trying to manage it all. It may get more difficult beyond the tutorial gameplay however from what I played, I’m excited and looking forward to the launch of the game towards the end of this year.
Key features of Cartel Tycoon include:
- Grow a drug empire in the late ‘80s, dealing in marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and other goods
- Tycoon action on an epic scale with dozens of upgrade paths and endless strategic combinations
- Run huge logistical systems of your farms, labs, warehouses, workshops, research centers, and delivery lines
- Conquer neighbouring regions and send profits climbing to unlock new upgrade paths and powerful research opportunities
- Death is inevitable but lieutenants with unique traits take over for the drug lord before them
- Evade the authorities and square off against rival cartels on the path to profit
- Procedurally generated story and roguelike action for endless replayability
- Original soundtrack recorded by artists like Orkesta Mendoza, Chico Unicornio, Candeleros, C.A.M.P.O.S., The Vicious Seeds and others
“Our story about drug cartels focuses on the consequences of such an endeavor,” said game designer Margarita Shapovalova. “Cartel Tycoon invites players to test themselves against incredible depth and intense, persistent trials, but ultimately, even the hardest dealers succumb to the perils of the trade.”
If simulation and tycoon management games are your thing, or if you’re interested in the drug cartels of the 80’s, I highly recommend you try the free demo of Cartel Tycoon for yourself on Steam. We’ll keep you updated once an official release date has been announced.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis