Have you ever dreamt of breaking bad on your own drug empire? Maybe you’ve just wondered to yourself how easy it would be to grow your own weed and maybe sell some for profit?
Well, if life is anything like video games (and I’m assured it’s practically identical) turns out it’s pretty simple and can be incredibly satisfying.
Weedcraft Inc is a tycoon management sim but instead of the typical theme parks, towns or hospitals, you grow and sell weed. I was particularly drawn to it because it touts a focus on legislation. I wanted to deep-dive into the changing climate of cannabis acceptance and weird laws.
Unfortunately, some aspects are fairly watered down. However, I did have a pretty dank time for better and for worse.
Weedcraft Inc Review
There are two campaigns in Weedcraft Inc and it took me about 30 hours to get through them both. However, I think they’re better looked at as two halves of a whole. The first teaches you the basics in which you and your stoner brother set out to grow and sell weed.
The latter requires you to have that basic knowledge. You still grow and sell weed but you go into some of the legislation and marketing sides of things as well.
Weedcraft Inc starts out kind of frantic, in a good tycoon sim kind of way. You have to acquire places to grow and sell. That costs money and upkeep. Then you need to get the product moving as quickly as possible so you don’t go into the red.
At this point, you’ll be in and out of screens clicking on various cool-downs. It feels like a mobile game as it asks you to constantly tap to water, train, harvest, replant and sell your plants. The sound effects all pop and crack encouragingly as you do so. I remember catching myself thinking this was not the 420 chill time I might have expected.
After a bit, you can employ people to do this for you and then the game gets a bit calmer. At this point, you really feel like a manager instead of a worker. You need to set the conditions so everything works out ok. This has a sense of control and empowerment that feels right in a tycoon game.
Never a Strain
Perhaps one of my favourite things about Weedcraft Inc are the plants themselves. They’re often bright and colourful with distinct looks. You’ll grow a lot of different strains but I could still immediately recognise some of my favourites just from the foliage.
You can also then put the work in to find out what makes each plant tick. Whether you want to just try to grow the most or the best quality product is up to you. Both have different optimisations and requirements to learn, specific to that strain.
The strains are also interesting. There’s a bunch of different effects or tastes you can have. Customers will have preferences, or in medical cases, needs for their weed. Some of this goes into territory I’m not too sure about. I’m not exactly an expert on marijuana. I can believe strains make people laugh and others focus them. I highly doubt one can specifically encourage Marxist conversations but, honestly, I’d like to be proven wrong.
Eventually, you can cross breed and create your own strains to try to corner the required markets. I really enjoyed trying to tailor combinations and seeing how well I could improve the customer experience. You can even name them, but Weedcraft Inc will automatically assign them really great generated names.
Tooth Predator, Cheesalot Rocket and Rancid Engine were among my personal favourites.
I think these and other little touches are in ways what really make this game. Weedcraft Inc has to be so self-aware. It’s pretty unlikely you’re going to find someone who isn’t at least somewhat accepting of cannabis playing this game, so it wisely leans in.
From the second you start the game up the tunes have you in the right kind of headspace. The laidback beats just absolutely reek of a stoners paradise and it’s kind of great. They do get a bit too repetitive, cycling through the same few songs though.
I ended up turning the music off and putting my own songs over the top. At which point I earned the “Bad Taste” achievement, which I had to say was a fair call.
I think along with this vibe is part of why it’s not really a difficult game. As I said, in the beginning, things are pretty hectic but I was never really too worried about failure. It always felt like I was earning enough money to stay in the black. Competition with other sellers also always seemed easily won.
As for the law, I kept things mostly legal but even when I was on the wrong side I never really felt threatened.
The threat of failure seeming like a non-issue doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. To progress the story for both campaigns you’ll need to complete tasks. Some will be specific things like open a number of facilities or breed a strain of weed. Others are more general and require you to simply sell enough weed.
This felt pointless as it would just feel like a counter until the next goal. I’m going to eventually meet it with little effort. I can absolutely optimise to do so quickly but even still it’s just waiting for the money to tick over. Sometimes I set the game to fast forward and made a coffee while these were in place.
The other goal I saw a few times was maintaining a set profit. This was usually the most difficult and frustrating. Originally, I felt like there wasn’t really enough direction on how to achieve this. However, once I worked out the solutions myself I came to really appreciate the challenge.
This was because it always changed.
The first few times it came up I found that breeding the best strains was the solution to maximising and maintaining revenue. After a point, I couldn’t optimise this further, so I had to think of something else. The last time I ran into this problem I went through and levelled up and perhaps more importantly increased the wages of all my employees.
Suddenly they all were significantly more motivated and the profits came flowing in. This game has several agendas and I think I am for all of them.
It’s Cannabis, not Can’tabis.
The second story is absolutely where Weedcraft Inc shines. You were put away for 15 years for cannabis-related crimes and you come out to find it’s legal. This is a real problem that is facing places where legalisation is happening. Lots of people are serving time for something others are now getting rich off of.
Weedcraft Inc kinda brushes over it aside from pointing out the injustice.
Unfortunately, that’s how it treats a lot of the legal issues. On the one hand, it’s good because it knows its scope. It’d be easy to get muddy into the nitty-gritty and become a whole different game. For now, you get to tinker with some vague aspects of legalisation around weed in America.
You’ll play in a few different cities all of which have their own laws. Some will allow the recreational sale, others only medical. You can choose to stick to the law and avoid the problems or go illegal for higher profits. I purposefully went legal because I wanted to see how the laws all worked.
Legalise and Legislate
In the first campaign, this isn’t really touched upon other than befriending officials. The latter has you proposing bills to change the laws around the distribution of cannabis. You can launch national campaigns to try to change the hearts od demographics and influence politicians.
Proposing a bill was a very cynical and probably accurate experience. The politicians will have their own opinions which can’t really be changed, regardless of their voters. Furthermore, they seem to care more about the money around the bill than the laws themselves. Tax revenue and licensing fees could do a lot to win them over to the side of legalised weed.
Then you can even befriend or bribe the politicians to get your laws over the line. That being said, I found that friendships didn’t really count for squat in this game. People might be marginally more tolerant but they still have their own goals.
A Bit Hazy
Weedcraft Inc is a fun, quirky and genuinely interesting take on the tycoon genre. The one thing that brings it down is it doesn’t always have the friendliest of layouts.
When you first start it’s really manageable and simple but then things start to build up and there’s no real way to fix it. Things like dozens of notifications for various things will clutter the left and bottom portions of the screen. They do go away but not always immediately and most of them are incredibly ignorable. They can get in the way when you’re trying to click on other things and just generally cause minor frustrations.
All the strains of weed you own are located at the bottom of the screen. You need to see them to view how much stock you have of each type. When you only have a few this is fine but after a while, you could own almost infinite strains. It’s likely you’re only growing three or so in each city, but there’s no way to only view those three. Instead, you’ll have to scroll until you find them. You can move them to make this easier but it’s not really a fix and is still frustrating to navigate.
Occasionally, objectives didn’t seem as clear as I needed them to be. Part of my brain almost considers this jankiness just a part of the 420 stereotype. It almost made sense to be a bit disorganised, especially in the earlier portions of the game. The charm wears off as usability becomes more of a necessity. I’d be very surprised if some of this isn’t fixed in the future.
It’s obvious to say that this game just isn’t going to be for everyone. It doesn’t have the same grandiose premise of other tycoon games where you might build something massive. It does have a lot of weed, and the ability to make and sell that weed. That’s going to be a pro or a con to different people.
Aside from some frustration, it does that really well. You feel a sense of achievement from your actions and can see a tangible change from your decisions. I feel like that’s such a crucial point in these sims. It really added to the overall satisfaction of making a lot of sweet sweet mary jane money.
It’s the kind of game where you can lose hours to your life in front of the computer. Clicking, making small tweaks and watching the numbers go up. Where I feel it sets itself apart isn’t just the subject matter but the style.
You get to put a little bit of yourself in by breeding your own strains. You can choose your clientele and what path you decide to walk. For a game inherently about numbers, there’s a lot of heart and fun in there. I’m not sure there’s the depth for hardcore tycoon sim enthusiasts but it’s definitely a bit of fun with a great message to hold it all up.
Weedcraft Inc. was reviewed on PC using digital codes provided by Devolver Digital.
Game Title: Weedcraft Inc
Game Description: Vile Monarch teams up with casual stoners Devolver Digital to bring you the burgeoning legal pot industry's first fully fledged tycoon game: Weedcraft Inc.
Solid tycoon systems work well - 8/10
Breeding plants and making your own strain is fun and feels unique - 9/10
Good vibes, sounds and visuals - 9/10
Lots of different and sometimes unexpected strategies - 8/10
Unfortunate user interface problems - 5/10