Moviehouse by Latvian-based Odyssey Studios and published by Assemble Entertainment is a single-player tycoon game for PC that was released on the 5th of April.
If you have ever wanted to try and run your own movie studio, then this is promising to be the game for you!
Lights, Camera, Action!
Steven Spielberg watch out! There is a new kid in town! Can I make a successful movie and reap the financial rewards? Let’s find out!
Starting in the 80s with a small film crew, the setup in principle is easy to initially get your head around. The screen shows an isometric view of a square plot of land where all of your movie studio company will grow. Looking like a diorama, there is a small trailer where you will hire a writer before getting them to create your first script. You get to set the film title and then make choices on the film genre including the setting, hero, and villain. How well the movie will do starts right here!
Moviehouse plays a little like the football manager-style games whereby you click through various options and screens as time ticks. Other than progress bars, you do not see any of the created movies.
Once the script has been developed it is time to hire a producer to make your future blockbuster film. You get to set your budget for casting, choose between a couple of actors/actresses, and once unlocked you can choose filming locations and props. During production, the movie will hit a snag that results in you having to answer a technical question about how to pull off a certain shot or scene. Although it is multiple choice, you do not know if you have chosen the right or wrong answer.
When the movie is produced, it is off to the movie festival to enter your creation in the hope that the critics enjoy your work and a distributor comes forward to help you make some money! The festival only comes around once a year, and you can only enter one film per festival, therefore initially you are restricted in how many entries you can make.
If the film is rated well then the results cascade down through better morale for the crews involved as well a chance to sell the theatrical rights or take a percentage of the money made through distributing via the cinema. The results of which allow audience overview feedback that rates your film across different bands of the population. This is the only chance you get to see if your selections during the script and production process were correct.
Be The Next Spielberg
As Moviehouse evolves you unlock skill points for your writer and producer that enables them to achieve higher scores when creating scripts and producing movies. Higher scores hopefully mean that the film will be more appealing to the audience!
In addition to skill points, there are also research points to unlock items on a tree such as video tape releases and new movie genres. Plot cards allow you to choose new selections when creating your scripts such as new villains and heros. Studio Fans allow campaigns to be run to hype up your films in various ways. Each hopefully adds value to your creations and sellability when used in the right way.
Crew management is a vital resource to have and allows you to send out a team of scouts to various locations across a map in order to find new filming locations. There is also the option of then building your own sets as well as props to be used.
Finding the best script
Although Moviehouse starts off relatively simple, I did find myself getting into trouble the further that I got into it. For example, some scripts that you create have stipulations on how you must spend your budget when producing the movie. If you successfully do what it says then you gain audience appeal and upon failure, you pretty much lose out. My issue was that when it came to producing the script, and by then you may have several waiting to be produced, I could not seemingly interrogate the script to remind me what I needed to do. Apologies if the feature was there, however, it wasn’t obvious.
The film festival took forever to come around and meanwhile no distributor was interested. This resulted in a backlog of finished films with nowhere for them to go. Once I had a success or two then finally I started to see a bit of interest however it took a long time. I played up to year 12 and other than the mild anticipation that maybe this time I had made a great film, it was all a load of button-clicking without much to show for it. Needless to say, I eventually lost my writer and also cascaded into debt before being bought by a rival movie company. I do blame the latter on accidentally clicking something during the game that allowed me to buy it despite not having the money, and taking me way beyond any loan that the bank would lend me.
Graphics & Audio
I enjoyed the simple but effective colourful graphics of Moviehouse. It’s diorama-style setup alongside the backdrop of a larger studio keeps it all in one place. There was no scrolling around searching for something for example.
The windows are informative and well generated while any animation is kept to the minimum. Although this is a tycoon sim through and through it would have been nice to maybe of had some moving about to liven it up.
The background music reminded me of lift music. It bumbles on unintrusively while you gather your thoughts on what to do next in the game. Sound effects are tidy and limited to the odd point of interest, there are no voiceovers or narration.
Moviehouse is a very repetitive game to play and although there is a lot to unlock in order to progress to the larger movies, I feel that it is one of those games that you may only want to play for half an hour or so at a time. That said, the buzz that you do get when you finally have a successful movie does keep you fixed to your seat for a while afterwards!
I enjoyed the premise and layout of Moviehouse, it certainly builds up into a fairly complex tycoon game the longer that you play. My issue was that it is slow to progress, has questionable logic when having your script ripped apart by the audience, and is not massively exciting due to the repetitive nature of the gameplay.
Moviehouse aimed for a blockbuster however I feel it is more of a medium movie and gains a Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.