Over the years, simulation games have given us a taste of what it would be like to run hospitals, theme parks, zoos, and even whole cities, trying to balance the books while also making sure everyone stays happy. This new offering from Nokta Games takes that idea and gives it an all-new and more down-to-earth setting: a supermarket.
The game, aptly named Supermarket Simulator, tasks you with overseeing every aspect of the store. You decide what products to order, and when they arrive, you stack them on shelves and, crucially, decide how much you're going to charge for them. Much like in the real world, market prices fluctuate, so it pays to be savvy about when you choose to stock up – thankfully, nothing has a sell-buy date - and how you set your prices. If they're too high, your patrons will go elsewhere for their groceries, but set them too low, and you'll soon see those debts start to mount, and before you know it, you've got the shady group you got the loan to set up shop from knocking on your door.
The demo starts you off at the very beginning of your journey with a small space, a few empty shelves, and the ability to order only the basic of foodstuffs; I'm talking eggs, cereal, bread, flour, pasta, and cooking oil – which for reasons unknown I simply couldn't keep in stock. Perhaps my valued customers just really like including it in dishes, or maybe there's a rumor going around this virtual world that bathing in it is the key to eternal youth. Who knows, but whatever the reason, that stuff was flying off the shelves.
Naturally, a big part of running a store is serving customers, and you have to manually ring their purchases up at the checkout and count out the right change. Trying to keep on top of serving customers while at the same time keeping the store shelves stocked is a bit of a balancing act; get too focused on checkout duties, and pretty soon, you'll be looking at empty shelves but getting too preoccupied with stock ordering, pricing, and displays means that before you know it there's a string of people waiting to be served.
That being said, it's not overly chaotic, thanks to the lack of time pressures. From what I've witnessed, customers are content to wait as long as it takes rather than storming out or complaining about the long queue or slow service. They're more concerned about getting short-changed or an item not being in stock, making Supermarket Simulator a relaxing, almost therapeutic affair when compared to the absolute chaos that other simulators can descend into. Overcooked, I'm looking at you.
With enough money, you can grow your surroundings and offer a bigger range of products. Using the profits I'd made, I was soon able to expand my range to include more everyday items like milk and coffee as well as spreads and sweet treats. That's merely a taster, as later, you'll be able to stack shelves with everything you'd expect to see at your local supermarket, from toiletries to fine wine. There's also a tab on your virtual computer called 'Hiring' suggesting that in time, you won't have to take on every task yourself, as well as, according to the game's Steam page, a feature that allows you to fulfill orders over the interwebs.
Steam Next Fest runs until 10 AM PST / 6 PM GMT today, so be sure to check out the demo before then. If you don't manage to do so, or you enjoyed what you played, then you don't have to wait long to play the full-fat version, as Supermarket Simulator is scheduled to arrive on PC on February 20.
Take a look at our upcoming indie games guide for more indies to keep on your radar.