Classic entries such as SimCity sparked enthusiasm for the management genre and paved the way for ever-increasingly complex, detailed and unique creations. Below we explore some of the best management titles that appoint you architect and ruler of all before you from the comfort of your chair.
To manage your farms, colonies and villages, fast fingers are a must, so train yourself up with one of these great typing games.
1. Lobotomy Corporation
Lobotomy Corporation is a monster of a game in every way. You play as the manager of the company and it is your duty to oversee the maintenance and everyday handling of its inhabitants. They just happen to be a hoard of monsters locked up in your underground establishment, ready for analysis, testing and experimentation.
Similar to ‘Fallout Shelter’ in its layout, this roguelite management game exudes increasingly chaotic tension as the creatures, dubbed ‘abnormalities’, grow sentient and start objecting to the way they are being handled.
The domino effect in this game is unexpected in its complexity but hilarious in its originality. This isn’t a game for logical procrastinators; the chaos is fast-moving and seemingly random. There is a lot of grinding which can be a bit irksome but the trial-and-error nature of the gameplay is a tribute to its unpredictable fun.
2. Stardew Valley
A truly meditative gem, Stardew Valley is the very epitome of innocence. After inheriting your grandfather’s plot of land, you build yourself a little self-sufficient farm from scratch, with your own two pixelated hands. You grow crops, raise animals, cook and craft all whilst mingling and making friends with the local community.
This game really does make you feel like you’ve retired from regular gaming and settled down into your ‘forever-game’. That isn’t to say this is dull or dreary or that you have given up looking for enjoyment from games.
Stardew Valley radiates an addictive sense of happiness and contentedness – a rare feat in a world often filled with violence, misery and turmoil. You can double the chill by having up to three friends join you in local or online multiplayer.
Factorio is less of a game and more of a lifestyle. There are countless reviews from bleary red-eyed players complaining or rejoicing at the compulsive nature this game nurtures in oneself.
The game demands that you build yourself an entire mechanized world from scratch. You crash-land on an alien planet abundant with rich and untapped resources, and you need to start to harvest those materials and build something out of it. Needless to say, the natives aren’t too happy about this…
You start with the bare minimum, but from chopping down trees and mining ore you’ll soon find yourself sitting atop a vast, resource-hungry industrial world of factories and automated machines.
As manager of a gladiator school in Ancient Rome it is your job to procure and train the most ferocious, bloodthirsty and fearless warriors possible in order to bestow honor and success on your family name
Great power isn’t won easily and its path is fraught with many difficult decisions. Ethical decisions that weigh up slavery, starvation and injustice with the glory of the Empire and favor of the Gods.
In stark contrast to some of our entries, this game is pretty short and can be completed in one sitting. But this works in its favor when up against entries that can literally take up years of your life. Domina is a unique and entertaining, pick-up-and-play, pixelated gore-fest that is a welcome break from the time-consuming titles that usually saturate the genre.
While most management games involve the creation and building of a civilization from its conception to fruition, Frostpunk puts us in the unfortunate position of maintaining a dying society on the brink of extinction.
You are in charge of the planet’s last city in an apocalyptic winter and will be forced to make some sacrifices and tough decisions. Bleak, miserable and sobering, this game is a thought-provoking experience, all the while being visually stunning and enjoyable to look at. Serene, blissful white snow blankets the remnants of a dying humanity bereft of hope.
The moral dilemmas you face throughout are a sobering reflection on the complexity of societal hardships. For example turning away refugees, bound to die, to maintain stable power and food sources. It’s beautiful and tormenting – a contrast akin to the game’s depiction of life and death.
6. Tropico 4
There are currently six offerings in the Tropico series but Tropico 4 stands out as the best by perfectly balancing visuals and gameplay.
The ever-shifting tide of world politics is once again at the mercy of powerful changes. You play as ‘El Presidente’ – a national treasure, or tyrannical dictator, vying for the attention of international global powers and countrywide popularity. You’re not the only one with an agenda however and it’s not easy keeping trust and loyalty among those close to you.
Difficult choices have to be made – such as feeding the populace and going bankrupt or letting them starve – which invariably have a direct effect on either your people or your status. The game is pure satire and boundless fun, but it does touch upon some of the more serious things politics deals with and challenges you to make the right call. Whether that be a selfish or an altruistic one is up to you.
7. Graveyard Keeper
Described as “the most inaccurate medieval cemetery management sim of all time,” Graveyard Keeper is definitely both right and wrong in that statement given its non-existent competition for the title.
With gameplay and visuals very similar to games such as Stardew Valley the mechanics aren’t unique but the premise itself certainly is. Not for gamers without a strong stomach or sense of humor, Graveyard Keeper places moralistic quandaries in the player’s hands. Dilemmas such as how to dispose of bodies and how to overcome bankruptcy when the butcher is offering such tempting recompense for ‘prize cuts’.
The game does get a little repetitive as you progress but the enticing dark humor raises it above other games of an otherwise similar caliber.
8. Jurassic World: Evolution
It’s a game where you manage dinosaurs. That’s probably enough of a positive review to sell it to most but Jurassic World: Evolution surpasses that basic evaluation in many ways.
Graphically the game is gorgeous and the variety and detail of the dinosaurs is a childhood fantasy come true. The ability to explore and resolve ‘problems’ both from a traditional top-down view and from the ground, in first-person, really makes this an immersive adventure.
JW:E combines the peaceful, absorbing state that building a beautiful prehistoric environment offers with the genuine primal panic and jeopardy harboring history’s greatest predators would bring.
We start again by crash-landing on a distant world (the crux of many a great story). But that’s as far as I can go in describing Rimworld’s narrative. The rest is created by you and the people you attract to your colony.
The whole game plays out under the watchful eye of your chosen A.I. storyteller and this raconteur will bring you tales of tragedy, hardship and triumph. Innumerable great and varied stories get generated through random number-crunching in this great-grandchild of Dwarf Fortress. It’s an astonishing achievement!
The game is compacted with detail, each character having their own opinions and lived experience that form and mold their actions and the path that is laid out in front of them. This game is just as much about watching as it is creating, which is what makes it so exceptional and unique amongst its genre peers. A truly ground-breaking masterpiece that will take over your life and rewrite it before your very eyes.
Managed to pull yourself away from playing management games? Try something a little different with the ‘Best Text-Based Adventure Games to satisfy your Inner Bookworm’ or the ‘Best Metroidvania Games you can Explore Today’.