Gym Empire Early Access Review

Business Simulation games – or better known as Tycoon games – are strangely addictive, considering how they’re influenced by the mundane tasks in life. Alas, they’re so popular that any business – from a theme park to a hospital – has a Tycoon title. So, it’s no surprise that a gym managerial game is in the works by the name of Gym Empire!

Gym Empire was initially set for release on the 27th March but has been pushed back to the 21st July to ‘pack Gym Empire with even more awesome content and customisation options ready for the Early Access release.’ Prior to this release, Chronik Spartum have granted me the opportunity to try the Beta and get but a taste of their promising title.  

You won’t get any points for guessing Gym Empire‘s concept. Players are tasked with building their gym empire, starting small and gradually expanding. To build up your empire, balancing supply and demand is key, as well as investing in assets and keeping your customers happy (add to that, an injury free). Players will spend their cash on three types of gym equipment, additional gym items and customisable options for walls, windows and more. 

In terms of the core gameplay loop, Gym Empire is straightforward. The player starts with a decent amount of money to buy the basics of gym equipment. From there, it’s all about receiving clients (and preventing injuries by training them), steadily rising the price of a membership and improving your facilities as time goes on while maintaining a profit. 

Perhaps I’ve oversimplified the experience, but nonetheless, it’s fun and addictive enough for a time! I initially found myself enthralled with the gameplay loop on top of utilising the customisable aesthetics for my gyms. While these options are ultimately inconsequential, there’s a sizable range of items for creating a unique gym.  

If you’re looking for a complex Tycoon experience, Gym Empire – from what I’ve played so far – is not that. This is a lighthearted, uncomplicated title, perfect for somebody getting into Tycoon games. Despite this, Gym Empire comes equipped with its trials and tribulations early into the game. For example, client injuries can be devastating when you’re scraping by in the early stages because you must cover the not-so-cheap cost. You must be mindful of the risks and train your most incompetent clients (yes, that’s how they’re labelled). 

As a result of at least the Early Access being straightforward, Gym Empire quickly runs its course. Thus, after just a couple of hours played, I felt no additional satisfaction from playing. Money was too easy to come by, and I found myself having nothing more to spend on. I’d like to see more depth in the gameplay loop added in the final product.

Naturally, with this being an Early Access release, the developers can work out what must be tweaked prior to full release (advertising the game is, of course, also a priority). Admittedly, I’ve found a few minor problems that I am confident Chronik Spartan are aware of (and hopefully working on). Firstly, the interface can be awkward when it comes to clicking on gym members. The ‘hit box’ is too small, making it difficult to click on gym members walking around – it is too precise. Another issue arises in relation to rotating the camera. It’s slow, especially when compared to moving the camera left and right to up and down.  

As you would expect from a Tycoon game, the visuals suffice but are certainly not the priority. The priority is functionality, although this doesn’t mean hard work hasn’t been put in graphically. I struggled finding much to say about visuals, which is a positive because I was able to stay focused more on the gameplay. Meanwhile, I realise Gym Empire is an indie game with, presumably, a budget on the lower side, so it seems Chronik Spartan have the correct priorities. Music is similar in this regard. After less than an hour, I simply found myself listening to my own music rather than the in-game radio station. This isn’t to say I wasn’t entertained by the innuendos of the presenter, but they ran their course quick enough.  

 

Final Thoughts

As stated when I opened the Early Access for Gym Empire, “This Build represents 40% of the Final Release. Together, we will unlock Gym Empire’s full potential….”. If this is to be believed, then I’m anticipating the full game when it hits Steam in July. If depth, polishes and more music tracks follow, then it will be a solid title to add to your Steam library, so long as it’s a relatively cheap experience. As far as an Early Access game goes, however, this has importantly grabbed my atttention. For a first taste: decent. For the final release: plenty more content (and depth in that) will be key.

Developer: Chronik Spartan

Publisher: Chronik Spartan

Platforms: Microsoft Windows

Release date: 21st July 2023

Gaming Respawn’s copy of Gym Empire’s Early Release was provided by the publisher

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