Early Hours: Big Ambitions revels in the mundanity of life
Welcome to Early Hours, our look at the first few hours of a newly released title. For our first instalment, we're checking out Big Ambitions, from Hovgaard Games.
Look, I'll be honest - being a small business owner, as rewarding as it can be, is a mess of late nights, cheap meals, and a lot of legwork. Tycoon-style games often skip that early grind entirely, dropping you a cheeky few million of monopoly money to go and build your business empire.
Big Ambitions, on the other hand, takes a different approach -- and it's a risky one. It's a game about getting things done, and in the earliest stages, that involves shopping at a supermarket, paying rent, and finding parking that's as cheap as possible. Still, with almost 3,000 reviews and an Overwhelmingly Positive rating on Steam, it may just have paid off.
Business is personal
To set the scene, Big Ambitions kicks things off with a rudimentary character creator and news that a distant Uncle has some cash for you to build with. It's not a lot, but hey, we'll take it.
The initial setup, as laid out in the game's quite excellent tutorial, involves finding a place to live, and getting your first job.
I moved into a small apartment just down the street from a small supermarket and snagged a job as a checkout assistant there. On my (virtual) daily commute, I was taken aback by the amount of detail on display in each of Big Ambitions' buildings. In fact, I was so impressed, I arrived to my first shift late and received a warning from my manager - fair play, that one's on me, boss.
Not only are all of the world's buildings modelled in 3D, but many can be rented or outright purchased.
If you do, you can customise the interior, adding a pleasing Sims or Animal Crossing style aspect that had me agonising over how best to feng shui my tiny "broom closet" home.
All work, all play
Naturally, you're not likely to be spending a lot of time at home with an empire to build, and it's here that Big Ambitions starts to flex its creative sandbox.
If the thought of lifting cash registers and shelving into a beaten-up car, driving it to a new store, and unloading each item and setting it just right sounds a little too much like hard work, then Big Ambitions may not be your thing.
And yet, I can't stop, venturing to pick up stock for my gift shop ("Coombes' Curiosities, in case you're wondering) to stack the shelves, and then returning to my tiny apartment across the street to eat food and fall asleep.
There's something just so earnest about Big Ambitions, and while I've no doubt the yacht you see in this article's feature image will be mine one day, I'm having a lot of fun just being a 'one-man band'.
As things progress, I have no doubt I'll need to hire cleaning staff and staff to help run things, and maybe even a second location. As far as early hours go, this has been a delightful slice of virtual life.