40: Offworld Trading Company (2016)
Developer: Mohawk Games
It’s a rare thing to find a game that slots neatly into a genre but doesn’t seem to follow many – if any – of the established rules of that genre. Offworld Trading Company is one such game.
It’s about offworld colonies, except you’re not worrying about keeping your population happy and healthy. It’s about making big profits, but money is a fluid thing rather than the central resource. It doesn’t contain direct combat, but it’s one of the most ruthless and competitive game you’re ever likely to play. Oh, and you could pretty much follow an entire game by watching numbers fall and rise at the side of the screen, only glancing at the actual map once or twice.
Created by a team led by Civilization IV designer Soren Johnson, Offworld Trading Company is a game about the impact of decisions. Everything, even hesitation, creates change, and because the foundation of the entire game is in flux – the numbers that drive everything visible and entirely predictable – it creates a space where you become proactive and reactive simultaneously. It’s impossible to act without influencing the status and decision-making of your competitors, and by the time the impact of one change has been felt, another handful have already happened.
Notes: Partly inspired by M.U.L.E., which dropped off our list this year, Offworld Trading Company is a perfect social game – short-form, multiplayer and frequently hilarious despite its intensity.
What else should I be playing: M.U.L.E. – the original strategic trading game is available to play free, online.
Read More: Our review.