If you’re looking for something to kill time, then Drug Dealer Simulator, the latest game from Byterunners Game Studio, published by Movie Games S.A. and PlayWay S.A. might have piqued your interest. While the game does offer a solid gameplay loop, it fails to break out of its shell, and the entire experience ends up going up in smoke.
Started at the bottom…
The criminal world of drug dealing has seen quite a few avenues of exploration over the years. From popular video games to TV shows, and even Hollywood movies, the dangerous business of peddling drugs has been in the spotlight for a while. If you’ve been itching to give the business a go yourself – but aren’t feeling all the real-life consequences that would follow – then Drug Dealer Simulator might be something you’ve been looking forward to.
Drug Dealer Simulator follows a simple premise: you start at the bottom as a low-life drug dealer in a seedy part of town. You meet up with your cartel contact – a man named Eddie who has quite a sense of humor – and then must work your way up, eventually expanding your catalogue of goods from things like marijuana and amphetamines to more powerful drugs like meth and cocaine.
Mix it up, baby
As you progress through the tiers of the drug dealer career pyramid, you’ll find new challenges await you. As your drugs take off with the locals you’ll find that you need to manage your time better, making sure you have more than enough goods to provide everyone with what they want. This becomes more difficult as you gain access to dealers, which will often ask for much larger quantities of drugs to deal on their own. These dealers are important to growing your chain of progress, though, so make sure you keep them supplied.
If you want to make more money – and get your buyers hooked on your goods – then you’re going to need to learn about mixing. This is really where the game gets complex, and it was honestly the best part of the game. Having to figure out the best ways to cut your drugs with things like sugar, baking soda, or even ibuprofen was fantastic, and added a nice edge to the management side of things. It, of course, becomes even more important to mix things around as you get deeper into your career as a dealer, and if you make any big mistakes, you could end up with the lives of your buyers on your conscience.
It’s not mine Officer, I swear
Unlike many other games, where drug dealing often comes with things like rival gangs and the sort, there really isn’t much danger in Drug Dealer Simulator aside from the local police and the DEA. If you’ve watched any of the old teasers for the game, where they sport guns and the like, then you’ll be very disappointed to learn that none of that is on show here in the final product.
I’m not sure if these things were scrapped throughout development, or if the trailers were spiced up to be more enticing, but it’s definitely something that possible buyers should be aware of. That being said, the police are a worthy rival – for the most part – and it adds a nice bit of edge to how you deal around the city.
Patrols wander the sidewalks, keeping an eye out for “suspicious people”. Of course, those suspicious people mostly just include you, as the AI seems to ignore anyone else that is found walking around. While you can sell your goods during the day, this brings added risk as it raises the chance of the DEA breaking in your door and raiding you. This is a cool mechanic, but it doesn’t appear that your main apartment – you can pick up hideouts throughout the world to make dealing in certain areas easier – can be raided, making it a safe bet if you want to steer clear of unneeded attention.
At night, during Police Hours, the patrols are much more active, though there are shadows you can hide in. Anytime you’re seen during these hours the cops will give chase, and if you’re caught, you’ll find yourself locked up for a certain amount of time. I didn’t find myself in this position too much – as sticking to the shadows is easy enough during the night.
You’ll also make more money when selling during Police Hours, so I found myself using most of the day to prep up and set my dealers up with goods, while keeping most of my dealing for the nighttime hours. It was a good system that worked out well, but ultimately got to be a bit boring and bland.
Puff. Puff. Pass.
At its core, Drug Dealer Simulator offers a fun and solid experience. But there’s a lot that could be done to make the game even better. For all that it claims to be, though, it still feels really barebones. The lack of any real challenge outside of the police is a bit of a letdown – as they often don’t feel like that big of a challenge on their own. there are also other issues with the game, like the way that it forces you to return to your laptop anytime you want to set up a new order, or how the police can sometimes be completely oblivious to what's going on around them. In fact, I once sold drugs to a guy right next to a patrolling officer.
Having the ability to mix your own drugs is great, and having to figure out those perfect little mixtures to get the most of your goods without putting people’s lives in danger is a great bit of complexity in what is already a very simple world. That being said, I’d still love to see more drugs make an appearance, adding in even more complexity to the system.
Drug Dealer Simulator isn’t an altogether terrible game, but it fails to reach its true potential. The world feels empty most of the time and the game's basic systems get in their own way quite a bit. At the end of the day, what is meant to be a full-fledged simulator experience ends up feeling like a half-finished early access title with plenty of room to improve.
This review is based on a PC code provided by the publisher. Drug Dealer Simulator is available on Steam for $19.99.
Drug Dealer Simulator
- Mixing system adds a nice bit of complexity
- Base gameplay loop is solid and enjoyable
- Gameplay loop becomes dull and boring after a while
- No real risks or challenges
- AI can be quite silly at times
- Police don't feel like a good enough challenge
- World feels empty