Our Tiny Tower addiction seems like such a long time ago. Nimblebit’s latest F2P timesink is a depressing reminder of the dark side of free-to-play gaming, a cynical, gruellingly slow reskin of its biggest hit which seeks to bore you into spending, if only so that you might progress at a marginally less stultifying pace.
It’s a much more ponderously paced Tiny Tower set in a space station. You build floors for residents to live and work on, and ferry customers to their chosen destination by elevator. You can recruit up to three employees for each business, ordering fresh stocks as they’re bought up and either waiting for their arrival or hurrying things along by spending Imperial Bux.
Your initial supply will be quickly exhausted, and you’ll have to pay real money for more, as well as to unlock the more interesting floors and the most iconic characters. You’ll earn some for completing simple objectives, but your meagre prize will rarely last more than a minute.
It’s even less involving than it sounds: every interaction is prompted by icons denoting a lack of stock, the arrival of a VIP, or the presence of a rebel spy, and so the only challenge lies in matching up Bitizens with their favoured roles to ensure you run a more efficient empire.
It resembles nothing more than a Skinner box, eventually rewarding your endless hours of button pressing with a short, amusing skit or a familiar face from the Star Wars universe. While some will no doubt be snared by its insidious little feedback loops, we can only reiterate Ackbar’s grave warning: it’s a trap.
Tiny Death Star is out now on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.