Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad
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Fiz: The Brewery Management Game is a management game from Bit By Bit Studios in which players take control of their very own beer brewery. The game isn't breaking much new ground in the gameplay department, but Fiz does offer a refreshing lack of in-app purchases and is paired with some clever writing, a smartly-balanced difficulty curve, and a meticulous attention to detail to make it a standout title.
Much like other management games, Fiz starts players off with a modest setup as it guides them through its menus while gradually introducing new things to see and do (and man, is there a lot to do). What begins as players brewing a single kind of beer out of a garage using plastic water coolers and a hand-operated bottle press quickly expands out to multiple beers, various retail spaces to sell, market research, staffing, missions, and more. All of this, while a bit overwhelming at first, is exactly what makes Fiz a special game.
The level of minutiae packed into this game is both bewildering and awesome at the same time. For instance, players don't just pick a beer to make; they have to secure particular ingredients. Also, when selling a beer players have to make adjustments based on market research, customer preferences, shelf life, and competing brewers in order to ensure turning a profit. This would all seem way too complicated if it wasn't for Fiz's easy-to-follow tutorial, helpful pop-up tip menus, and smart challenge progression.
To keep the gameplay from feeling too by-the-numbers, Fiz is also injected with more "human" elements that really add charm to the whole experience. Instead of just trying to min/max profits player's will develop rivalries with other brewers, get rid of mice in the brewery, have unannounced guests drop by to introduce new challenges, and find scraps of new recipes to experiment with. All of these touches really give character to a game that could otherwise feel pretty cold and mechanical.
As good as Fiz is though, I did find that a few details slipped through the cracks. In particular, the constant movement of time - even when not doing anything in game - threw me off a bit, since it wasn't fully explained and lead to a lot of wasted time and to missing timed events. Also, with the level of detail that this game goes into there are a ton of menus - which makes finding specific menus sometimes difficult. Luckily these complaints are rather minor, since players can pause the movement of time at any point and the number of menus - despite being confusing to find - are all easy-to-read and just part and parcel of management games.
Overall, there is a lot to get out of Fiz, regardless of players' interest in beer. It is a great management game that combines a detailed numbers game with charming narrative elements to make for a satisfying experience throughout.