PREVIEW: Basement

headerA lot of people think that AMC‘s Breaking Bad is one of the best shows out there. With that in mind, allow me to pose a question: have you ever thought about being like Walter White (minus the terminal cancer, of course) and becoming your own self-made drug lord? If you answered yes, I have just the game in mind.

Introducing Basement by Halfbus.  Despite the game being very much in early development, it does have its merits. You are an up-and-coming drug lord in a randomized city district. The game map is presented in a 2D cutaway view, with structures being able to run four stories deep from the ground level (that’s ground plus four floors down maximum, depending on the building). There are roughly fourteen buildings in the district and the objective so far is to conquer the entire district, defeating rival gangs and police alike.

You start with two guys by default, one dealer and one cook. Dealers (they wear hoodies and ball caps) are employees that specialize in selling, while cooks (dressed in yellow hazmat suits) are strongest in production. Your dealer is already assigned to the default dealing room you start with, while the cook is put to work in a green room (green most likely referring to weed, judging by the boxes of green plants in the production room). The game has only four different types of drugs to produce: green (weed), acid, brown (dope), and speed. Each drug comes with a standard price, being $80, $100, $125, and $150, respectively. To sell the drugs to make, you need at least on dealing room. There are four types of dealing rooms you can build only on the ground floor, each one with different adjustment of prices in products. The green dealing room boosts green sales by $5, the amethyst room increases acid sales by $10, the brown room adds $15 to dope and $10 to speed, and the piano room (based on the shelves, which look like piano keys) boosts speed sales by $30. You’ll need to keep your sales up in order to continue expanding your fledgling empire.

In order to take over other buildings, it must be by force. In the locker room (where you can add more employees to your workforce), you need to hire more men. A list of three randomly-generated candidates is presented to you. Again, dealers wear hoodies and cooks wear hazmat suits. Thugs appear mainly in solid-colored T-shirts, and depending on their description gets you one of two types of thugs. If their main characteristic is damage (red shirt), they’re enforcers; if the main characteristic is health (green shirt), they’re tanks. As your empire grows, your expenses also increase, both for upkeep on the rooms in the building(s) you control and for employee payments.

There are other rooms for utility and you can build these as you see fit. Training rooms help your men increase their fighting stats (best for thugs), generators provide power to the building (very important when you want to expand, so allocate a few rooms for these), storage rooms allow cooks to place drugs for dealers to pick up and sell upstairs, break rooms to allow your men to rest and recover stamina, and garages allow you to buy vehicles to transport goods from one building to another (as you expand, of course).

Of course, there are still a few issues with the game. Police can attack your branch buildings at any given time, and usually they come in force. They also can have a bribing price but depending on how well your economy is, the price is usually pretty steep. Since a lot of your surplus money goes towards upkeep anyway, hiring enough thugs for a small army is a tough task to take on a full squad of SWAT cops, so you usually end up losing your buildings if you’re not careful. Additionally, the room upgrades allow only one upgrade to happen at a time, even if a room offers more than one upgrade. I never really bothered with Breaking Bad in the first place, largely because I didn’t think too highly of the premise, but if you want to have your own criminal drug empire to run, Basement is the way to go. It’s in Early Access on Steam for $8.99.

Preview Advice: Bask In It

— Running your own drug empire like Heisenberg | — Diverse functions of employees, such as cooks, dealers, and thugs | — More game content on the way | — Multiple versions of rooms allows careful planning | — Room upgrades to boost crews’ stats

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