Organs! Everyone has them! Everyone wants them! The demand is high, so you gotta get in there and you need to buy and sell those fleshy parts to a bunch of different people to make fat profits! In Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator, you make a profit by buying and selling organs, making dodgy deals, and expanding your ship slowly but surely! What sounds like a disgusting market simulator is in fact a very clever market simulator meets management game where you have to keep your produce fresh and your ship clean… or else!
Trigger Warning: This game includes depictions of organs which some people can find unsettling… this review doesn’t feature any of those depictions or screenshots of organs.
Developer: Strange Scaffold Publisher: Strange Scaffold Genre: Strategy, Sci-Fi, Indie, Trading Simulation, Management Release Date: December 7th, 2021 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC (Win), Xbox One, Xbox Series Copy was played via Game Pass.
Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator is one of those weird games developed by Strange Scaffold that are simple in their premise but fascinating in their execution. The premise here is simple: “Buy stuff at a low price!” + “Sell it at a high price!” = “Make a profit!” – The game however doesn’t make it quite so easy for you as you need to deal with your competition by buying “the goods” before they do and grabbing those great deals before they go bad. Similarly, you need to fulfil oddly specific requests and the market itself isn’t as easily manageable as you’d think, considering that it gets flooded within seconds with a lot of goods that are either useful or useless to you. Your endeavour of getting rich quick is gonna require planning of you and some level of strategy, which is interesting, as it’s mostly about learning from mistakes and taking better gambles in the future.
The simple premise is the reason why the gameplay loop of hitting the “Trade” button and being overwhelmed until the timer runs out is so addicting. You’re just thrown into the game and as there is no tutorial, you’ll have to figure stuff out yourself with no explanation whatsoever. Complete jobs and you’ll earn reputation points. Learn about stats, values and the competition to succeed in the market! Manage your storage! Reject requests or fulfil them! Buy out competitors or compete in the stock market!
Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator can be overwhelming once you start it up for the first time but it really is interesting and makes you think about things. As you play through the game, you’ll eventually reach some sort of ending that is dictated by your choices. This might come as a spoiler of sorts but frankly, you’re in power and you decide the future of some people. Someone may need a heart within five days and if you reject them, you’re ironically quite heartless. Regardless of that, though, as the supplier for these people, you kind of have a responsibility (or not) in this morally ambiguous market. Organ Trading is bad, right? But at the same time, is it okay if you’re helping people? What does it mean to make a profit in this market? Who suffers for your wallet? Not only does it make you think about things but the gameplay also affects your endings and the true fun begins once you try to figure out these different endings and how you achieve them exactly. Really satisfying!
The retro-esque art style consists of relatively simple displays in some monochrome green paired with some accent colours that really stand out. The music is synthwave-y and it slaps. It’s really good. I found myself jamming to the title screen music for way too long and the added tempo from the music really adds to the core gameplay loop. I mean, yes, the graphics of the organs and souls and whatnot can look incredibly disgusting and potentially unsettling to some people but I personally really enjoyed the idea of this game so much… and I wasn’t really bothered by most of the graphics. I found it a bit hard to discern certain organs but it’s fine overall. At least it has the name as a label. Arguably, the soundtrack is what makes this game even more enjoyable as the change in tempo adds more “stress” to the trading and makes it feel a lot faster-paced than before. You kind of don’t have to hurry but it feels as if you have to… and that added pressure followed by some sort of silence before the storm feels pretty great!
But while I’m admittedly a fan of Strange Scaffold’s interesting or rather unique games, I must say that the fast pacing wasn’t always up to my alley. A better explanation especially early on would have been more than helpful for the game. Similarly, I would have loved some sort of “Help” option in the Pause Menu that explains certain things to the player. Accessibility is important and while Xalavier added some options to the game to make it more accessible, I still would have liked a bit of a guide or maybe some hint as to how things work here and there, in case you missed or you didn’t understand it. At the same time, I would have enjoyed it a lot more if the game allowed you to save at certain points so that you can go through different endings a bit easier. Yes, a playthrough isn’t typically too long but I found it still a tad annoying to backtrack so much. All of this may sound like nitpicking but the missing “help” window with some more information actually annoyed me as I didn’t understand (and still don’t understand) some gameplay systems.
Overall, though, I’d say that Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator or SWOTS, for short, is a great title to pick up for in-between the years when you may run low on heart and soul and when you may want to supply it to others. The idea is gruesome and unique but I love the moral ambiguity of it as well as the soundtrack and execution. The premise is simple, as I said before, but it really works well as a whole. If you’re sensitive to depictions of organs (such as hearts, lungs, eyes, livers, etc.), this may not be a game for you, but otherwise, I can highly recommend this game to any fan of Sci-Fi or Management games!