As an avid gamer putting in the hours on my favourite games, from time to time I need a break from the fast paced FPS games I tend to play. In times like these I can go days, even weeks, without playing my gaming staples (usually Destiny 2). However, there are times that I still want to game but need something easy to play which allows me to decompress and have a generally chilled experience. That my friends is where my latest find, Tavern Master, shines like the headlights of the taxi you ordered outside the kebab shop, after a night in the local public house.

Tavern Master is a game by Untitled Studios. I stumbled across it whilst perusing Steam’s recommended games for me. I rolled the dice and here we are, with over 15 hours in and a proud owner of a three storey tavern/hotel. The premise of the game is pretty simple. You’re given an empty floor space and all the tools needed to start building your own tavern. These include various building tools, such as walls, windows, short walls etc. Then in a separate menu, the aesthetic items, such as rugs, paintings and furniture.

Where in other games the simple things such as rugs and paintings are more of a visual art piece, in Tavern Master, they’re used to increase your Prestige level. Prestige is a system that attracts more customers and unlocks more items. What Tavern Master does here is extremely clever. It combines the number of seats you have in your tavern with your Prestige level. The higher your Prestige, the more customers you’ll attract, only if you have the physical chairs to accommodate them. It’s a nice synergy that pushes you to constantly improve your tavern and aim for that maximum capacity. Intertwined with this mechanical harmony is the special events calendar. A monthly calendar that allows you to select specific days and put on an event that will attract a certain type of customer and a max number of them. This can be both a blessing and a curse.

You can use these special events to attract certain types of customers, divided into a colour grading system. This will then contribute towards your tech tree, as a certain number of different types of customer are required to unlock items and cosmetics for your establishment. However, these special events only attract a maximum number of that type customer, and no other. This can mean you have a capacity to serve 300 customers, but the event only attracts 150 which can be detrimental to your takings.

When I thought about this, it dawned on me, this is probably how real pubs and clubs work. They can’t cater for all and sometimes you have to cater for more select clientele to reap the rewards later. It’s a very clever system, with real world parallels.

Staff management can also be a fun dive into the business world. Levelling up bar staff, cooks and waitresses so they move quicker, serve more drinks and cook quicker. I even found myself becoming a rather cold manager, firing those staff that demanded more wages or they’d quit, hiring others to take their place. I’m pretty sure if the game had a union mechanic, I’d have been bankrupt within days! Add on top of the clever and rather technical systems, the fun, stylised graphics and this is a lovely, relaxing and charming game.

Tavern Master is currently available on Steam. Check it out as it’s a brilliant way to relax.

Written by Lance.

Edited by Alexx.