Reviewed By: Aaron Spelker
Universal Paperclips requires that you give it time to reach its full potential. It is a mistake to think that it is a simple game to produce paper clips. As you manage your resources, set your pricing and sell paperclips, you will begin to open up additional research, marketing, processing, and investing. If you establish a successful business model, you will be able to create a paperclip monopoly. Once you corner the paper clip market, you can begin to expand the function and use of those paper clips in advancing society.
Without spoiling the game, be aware that there are 3 stages to navigate through (the paper clip factory being stage 1.) Each stage requires the player to plan out the path to success.
My main issue with Universal Paperclips is that it lacks information for the player to understand how pushing various levers impacts other aspects of the game. Improve a clipper, processor, memory, price, marketing, factory, power plant, etc. and you need to search through the entire display to try to determine what may have changed. This is obviously easier if you can take in the whole screen visually at once as a sighted person.
The game also provides no instruction of how each component is interconnected. Through trial and error, you figure out that having memory increases your operations cap. Operations points are spent to upgrade processing and computing. In addition, creativity points can be used to open new branches of research. Creativity points are gained when your operations meter is full. The extra unused operations are added to creativity. The number of processors you have increase the rate that creativity points are generated. As you produce more clips and open new branches of research, more projects become available. However, only a vague description explains the impact of completing that project. Furthermore, completing the project may have some secondary impacts which again are hard to determine when you have to swipe through the entire screen. The investing mechanic was never clearly explained and I fumbled my way through that aspect with little understanding of how my choices were impacting my results. The game theory research which generates Yomi points, which are used to investigate new research was also not clearly explained. I ultimately, set the choice to random and hoped for the best.
The layout of the sections was also frustrating as a Voiceover user. For example for the Yomi strategy ‘game’ you first had to swipe all the way past the strategy election drop down to the ‘New Tournament’ button. At that location, it would indicate the operation points needed for starting a new tournament. However, your operations point indicator is 30 swipes to the left. So, if the button is ‘dimmed’ it is making you swipe 60 times to find your operations point status and get back to the ‘New Tournament’ button. After pressing that button, you are swiping left again to get to the ‘Run’ tournament button. After several tournament rounds, you get a certain number of Yomi points, which is never clearly explained.
Universal Paperclips could have used a tutorial or a manual that the player could refer to. The manual could explain the interconnected nature of the choices. In addition, it could explain how to properly invest in the stock market and run a Yomi Strategy Tournament. Maybe the point is to “figure it out”, however, there are not enough text or auditory cues to make that easy using Voiceover. In addition, as you move through the stages, prior stage mechanics become obsolete. In addition, there is the possibility to box your production into a corner preventing you from advancing. This happened to me not because I made a poor informed choice, but rather I made a choice having no idea what I was doing or what it meant. That creates frustrating game play.
On the positive side, Voice over read each label and value without issue. However, using the “Header” feature would have made navigation simpler and more efficient.
There are some detailed walkthroughs on the internet for this game. Those walkthroughs explain a lot of the game’s mechanics. I wish those explanations were in the actual game, rather than me searching the internet in frustration from not understanding what was happening. This lack of communicated information and the inefficient Voiceover design layout dragged down the ultimate grade for Universal Paperclips.
Grade C plus
US / UK Price $1.99 / £1.79
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