Prepare to make a lot of shit wine in a hundred days

When you turn on for the first time One hundred days, one of the first people you meet is the Harvest Leader. He’s not the chief winemaker, but he might as well be – because he bluntly and immediately reminds you that you know absolutely nothing about wine, and that will probably be crap.

Hundred Days – Winemaking Simulator is a new indie game from Broken Arms Games, now available on Steam, Epic game store and GOG. This is the story of Emma, ​​who escapes the excessively gray monotony of office life when she receives a letter from an oenologist.

Bepe, or the old man, comes to the end of his days. But rather than handing over his vineyards to established winemakers, Bepe wants to hand the responsibility over to a complete novice. “While we need to cherish our tradition, we also need to make room for innovative solutions, newcomers to fill our ranks,” he opines in the opening of the game.

This opens the door to one of the most beautiful video playgrounds: a cold, low-key wine making simulator.

The real act of playing One hundred days is best described as turn-based Tetris. As you progress through the days and seasons of the year – the game gives you five days per season, totaling 20 days per year – you will be playing cards, each taking up a number of spaces on the board. .

The more money you earn (or borrow), the more you can expand your grid with each turn. But in the early hours, and when you start to navigate the requirements of your first grapes, you don’t really need this a lot of space. One hundred days is a meditative exercise to be methodical: making sure your vines are treated before winter arrives, making sure you follow your asshole harvester’s suggestions on sweetness, tannin and acidity, and making sure you don’t fall into the trap of trying to shovel gigaliters of swill at ALDI.

That last part isn’t a joke either. The game claims to give you the choice of deciding whether you want to produce lower quality wine in bulk or smaller batches of better quality wine. But you are on a random vineyard in what appears to be Italy. There is no room for $ 4 of sauvignon blanc; make the best wine you can, or you’ll be drowning in debt.

You start with a single vineyard with barbera grapes, and One hundred days Slowly introduces you to the winemaking process. After you acquire the land, the area is cleared, watered, tied to posts, terraced, and plowed (if you’ve cleared all of those things). Then it’s time to plant the vines themselves, starting the suckering cycle, where unnecessary shoots are cut in the vines.

Pruning cuts off extra parts of the vine that might produce grapes, ensuring more flavor is concentrated in the grapes that remain. Thinning follows a similar philosophy, reduce the overall size of the crop to intensify the flavor of what is left. The actual harvest involves picking the grapes and then turning them into wine, which usually involves crushing the grapes, fermenting the grapes, and then pressing the grapes to produce wine for bottling. You can also postpone the bottling process instead of a second fermentation, known as malolactic fermentation, which reduces the acidity of the wine. This is where you can age the wine in some barrels as well, although it really depends on the grapes you are working with, the wine you are trying to make, and what characteristics you want to highlight at the end. (It should be noted that white wine and red wine have different processes, although One hundred days it’s pretty much the same, except for a change in when the grapes are pressed and fermented.)

One of the four leveling trees in the game.

One hundred days reproduces this whole process thanks to its card-based system. You play the fermentation card on your piece of land, and a few turns later you can start the next process. As you play, some maps will take fewer turns to complete depending on the upgrades you unlock. Buying an old tractor speeds up the harvest, completing it in two turns instead of three. But this tractor will eventually break down. So you’ll have to spend time and money fixing it, which involves playing another card on your grid-based board.

Some work cannot be done when it is snowing or raining, for example. And that’s a big part of what the first phase of One hundred days it really is: discovering the methodical rhythm for knowing when and how to make wine, learning what are the best times to plan your vineyard treatments, identifying upgrades and maintenance that may be delayed in the future, and leave you room for the inevitable heat wave or harvest disease.

There are three modes in the game: a story mode, a challenge mode, and an endless mode, but this is the story you’re most immersed in. This is where you are introduced to a group of characters: a curious neighbor who adores you and effectively does guerrilla marketing on your behalf; a dark union couple who are suspicious of a newcomer to the region; a keen journalist eager to tell the stories of winegrowers in the region; local wine bars run by other people who have moved to the area, appreciating the player’s efforts as another foreigner; and your loyal workers, who range from a very cold tutorial farmer to a vineyard specialist who looks and talks like he has an Instagram account for wellness photos and motivational quotes.

Some of the writing is surprisingly funny at times, and there’s a bit of a broken fourth wall, but it’s mostly super-functional. You’ll get a title card after you hit the 100 day mark (or 5 years in the game), and the opening loading screen has a nice line on the difference between courage and stupidity. One hundred days actually has a really interesting story under it all, with the developer saying they could buy the vineyard from their father if One hundred days take off.

Apparently the whole idea of One hundred days comes from a quick tip given to developers by someone else in the industry: “Write down your background.” Broken Arms Games lead designer Yves Hohler grew up with wine, so that’s what the studio did.

There is a lot to love about the idea of One hundred days, but the actual act of playing it has its fair share of frustrations. I ran into a quirk once where the game would not properly trigger the fermentation process of my wines: the cards were being played on the board, but something was evacuated that prevented them from generating the next stage of winemaking, so I literally found myself. with no wine to sell.

It’s just an annoying bug, mind you. The biggest quirk is the lack of proper advice on how your vineyard should develop once you have access to multiple grapes. Your loyal advisers don’t openly tell you that aging is the best improvement you can buy early on, as aging can maximize the body of the wine you sell, which can transform your starting Barbera from a 70/100 wine to a 70/100 wine. high 80s or even 90s. This is no small feat either: it’s the difference between making a thousand or two per spin versus several thousand, which directly affects how much the bank will lend you and how quickly. which you can initiate new upgrades and new sales.

Upgrades can be a bit awkward as well. It costs money to unlock everything – new tractors, new grapes to plant on vines, new pruning techniques, barrels – but you actually have to pay twice for these upgrades. The problem is that One hundred days is not clear on the full cost of an upgrade until you commit. For example, if I want to upgrade my warehouse with a store to increase my sales, I don’t just have to pay 10,000 euros for the upgrade: I also have to pay 20,000 euros to build the store itself. .

All your buildings have theirs Tetris grid too, so if you don’t have a place there, you have to either sell something or upgrade the building to the next level. It takes longer and costs more money, and the upgrade must be played on your hand Tetris plot – triggering another round of decisions about what to sacrifice in the days to come. You can plan ahead for all of this, and after a few restarts you get used to knowing when it is best to perform certain moves. I just wish One hundred days made this process a little better for you. The fun of business simulations like this is having the data in front of you and being able to do the mental calculations ahead of time.

While the game has a nice layout up front, some parts of the UI seem like it could use a different pass – the Thistle text doesn’t appear properly centered at the top here, and the way the wine rating is displayed. is also a bit askew. .

Visually, however, One hundred days is a pleasure to watch. There is a lovely, smooth soundtrack underlying your wine conglomerate, and the animations and life transitions in the backyard are well done. The story seems to run out of steam after those first 5 years of play, with the in-game systems continuing as you grow and reap more and more benefits. Maybe there is one last story to reach once each upgrade is unlocked, or once you finally got a good 100/100 wine, but after 10 hours I certainly hadn’t reached this point.

I have however started to sell suitably decent wines like the Barbera above. I named it Chardon, short for Chardonnay, because I had come to that point in the simulator where you start playing on autopilot. When you reach this point, the various challenges and endless modes are there for more replayability, although even in my longer streaks there were still plenty of crops to acquire, new grapes to unlock, and new marketing campaigns to unlock. lead.

It was an experience that, unsurprisingly, was greatly appreciated with a real glass of wine. Not because of the wine itself, nor because of One hundred days‘portrait of the winemaking process, but because certain games are best appreciated slowly, almost serenely. One hundred days makes for a fun second screen experience if that’s your taste, and the minimum PC requirements are low enough that almost everyone (new M1 Macbook owners included) should have no problem running the game. real problem: can you make a good enough wine before disease strikes and you have to uproot the whole vineyard? If not, I hope you have some money stored in the bank. The wine business, even on a small scale, is an expensive business.


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About Shawn Dufault

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