It can be difficult to truly understand what privileges one might have, but being born into wealth is an easy one to spot. However, if you listen to a TED talk from a businessman that only received a paltry $500,000 to start his own business, they’ll be glad to tell you about how difficult their path of going from rich to richer really was. GUILDMASTER STORY follows a self-described hardworking entrepreneur with a great mind for leadership named Ganyo as he loses all of his inheritance and then has to con dozens of poor workers to regain his empire. It’s a story of riches to more riches that satirizes its subject well even if it some of its gameplay systems aren’t quite as skillfully executed.
Ganyo isn’t the great mind that he believes himself to be. In fact, there isn’t much of a mind to be appraised as he failed to develop any real skills growing up due to everything being handed to him because of his family and his elevated position in life. He’s just an idiot that is incapable of being good or evil; he merely just exists and goes about living as he was taught to do. His rough times after his family business burns down don’t last long as he quickly meets a demon that agrees to help him creating the biggest company that controls everything. As Ganyo’s father once taught him, “Hard times never last, permanently cripple your life, destroy your family or outright kill you. Unless you deserve it.” That’s simply how life works for the privileged.
The empire starts off small as Ganyo sets out and creates an adventuring guild, which he is the headmaster of. He finds poor, yet ambitious, people that want to be a warrior and tells them to perform quests for him. If he wants to eat some fish for dinner then he merely tells them to catch some for him. It’s a simple con and one that works perfectly for him as he pays them not in gold but in experience points. Everyone wants to level up believing that riches and fame are surely to come afterward. It’s a transaction that mirrors several artistic field as companies promise exposure to writers and artist rather than money that they can use to pay rent with.
Guildmaster Story Review | Time to play a game
Guildmaster Story‘s subject won’t be shocking to those that have played developer Will O’Neill’s past work as themes of wealth inequality have been explored in both Actual Sunlight and Little Red Lie. However, Ganyo isn’t an irredeemable scumbag like LRL‘s Arthur Fox, who knows exactly what impact his actions have and chooses to do them. He’s just an idiot that was handed life on easy mode and his warped world view is a result of a societal issue. Despite the heavy topics at hand, the game is never a depressing read due to how witty the writing is and how Ganyo is too oblivious to the obvious downside of his scheme.
Most games revolve around the player directly influencing the world. While Ganyo is definitely influential as the protagonist, he never actually does anything of note. When presented with a troublesome scenario, he chooses to ignore it and play puzzle games on his phone while it either sorts itself out or one of his employees fixes the issue. It’s a brilliant way to couple the in-game narrative with some interactivity as there’s never any dialogue choices to make beyond naming his phone after yourself.
Guildmaster Story breaks up its 100 or so bite-sized chapters of dialogue with a pretty standard puzzle game that has players clicking on same-colored blocks that connect and fulfilling certain goals (such as getting rid of 15 green blocks). This worked better when the game was a mobile release as it better parodied the ultimately meaningless time diversions that players tend to gravitate toward when they’re on a commute or committing wage theft at their jobs. It’s a totally OK puzzle game, but it gets far too repetitive by the time you’re nearing the end of the story. The game originally released episodically so scrunching it all together in one package points out how little its gameplay evolves.
Guildmaster Story Review | PC release is great for the story
While the actual gameplay was a better fit on mobile, it’s a much more enjoyable overall on PC. This is due to the lack of any timers or potential microtransactions. Instead, the traditional PC release gives players a ridiculous amount of in-game gold that can be spent on unlimited turns and power-ups. Even the most difficult puzzle (and they never get all that hard) can be beaten with these “purchased” abilities. In a way, the player can just apply Ganyo’s philosophy to the puzzles. There’s no puzzle that you can’t just throw some money at.
The narrative of Guildmaster Story gets to shine given that the puzzles are pretty much skippable. O’Neill’s sharp writing throws daggers at how people use social media, the terrors of the gig economy, the failures of the legal system, and even the quality of writing in AAA releases. While some of the complaints may come from a place of jadedness rather than trendy optimism, they’re certainly not without merit and provide an entertaining read. Even though players get a great taste of the creator’s views on a wide array of subject, they’re also treated to a great self-contained story with something to say. There is a darkness to the overall narrative which reinforces that the rich will always be beyond reproach regardless what they do, and it contrasts well with the fantasy aesthetic. No matter if it’s a modern city, a futuristic locale, or the past, wealth inequality has always existed and will continue to destroy lives and this game gracefully points that out wherever it can.
Guildmaster Story does a great job of making a well-thought out critique of capitalism and the society it has brought forth into an easily digestible puzzle game. Without any of the roadblocks on mobile, the PC release is the perfect way to enjoy the story. It’s one of the more memorable titles in the past few years not only for its dark, hilarious lines that hit far too close to home, but because of how it adeptly skewers the very time period it was released in.
GameRevolution reviewed Guildmaster Story on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.