StartUp Panic - PC Review

StartUp Panic by developer AlgoRocks and publisher TinyBuild GamesPC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

StartUp Panic is a simulation game that lets players launch a tech business. Our character quits their crappy job, to embark on their entrepreneurship journey. But this is only the beginning.

My character begins her journey from her home computer. I decided to take on odd jobs so that I had a financial buffer. Once I started my business, I fell quickly in love with StartUp Panic, because of its nods to the beginning of the tech boom. I'm talking about a familiar and trusty paperclip - our helper in Microsoft Word. 'Clippy' would explain how to use different features as it recognized input patterns. While many may have blissfully forgotten about 'Clippy' from Office 97, I appreciated this addition.

Some players might have stopped there, having remembered the early days of computing before Microsoft employed malware-like practices in the launch of Windows 10 - but I digress. The memories of Clippy and the simpler times made me appreciate StartUp Panic.

StartUp Panic Gameplay

StartUp Panic is an indie management simulator that amused me. My amusement stems from the subtle nods to things I grew up with. I absolutely adore this title even though I find it boring over time - which in no way speaks to the overall score. But, I can only handle so much of a management game before I am bored.

The game has a couple of levels of strategies that players need to pay attention to. At the outset, it is important to work on odd jobs to make money. These vary in difficulty as you hire more employees and allow for players to turn a profit even if your company is in the red for a time.

An important aspect to pay attention to is the rating your company has in each of the features developed. So, if your rating in the tech tree is less than 6 points, then you’re company is spending more money on maintenance than it is bringing in. For players to make a profit each month, they will need to make sure each feature is profitable. Sometimes this means hiring or training more people with higher skills to do a post-mortem on their features.

Another big thing that players need to be mindful of is the international standing of their application. On the top left of the screen is a globe that players can click on which allows players to conduct market research. Important information about demographics, preferred marketing methods, and total population will be displayed here. Having this information is key to your marketing strategy, which is crucial to pleasing your investors! Another useful benefit is that it also displays the market share of your competitors. When you beat out the first competitor, Johan Allberg, you will have a bigger fish to fry.

StartUp Panic List for Success

  1. Take on odd jobs to keep a positive financial balance

  2. Market your product in other countries

  3. Make deals with investors and stay out of debt

  4. Advance your services in the tech tree

  5. Manage character salaries and stress levels

  6. Manage employee vacation time and train them

  7. Upgrade the office with shinies!

  8. Buy traits to cut costs and provide extra perks

  9. Don't get kidnapped!

When a player takes on new contracts for cash or when they are developing new features on their app, a popup will present itself. On this popup will be three bars that represent Technology, Usability, and Aesthetics. The employees you assign to a job should have high enough stats to fulfill the requirements of the task. For example, using an employee with a high score in technology will not be useful to a t-shirt design job. When players are working on their own app, they will have to be mindful of what stats are most beneficial to the task. Regardless of the total stats, the sliding bars have to equal 100%. This does not change despite the number of workers nor the stat level. Those two aspects will help the overall success rate of the task but don’t change the difficulty level for the player.

Graphics and UI

StartUp Panic is an indie game that is well done. It has a realistic feel without too much focus on graphical fidelity. If I were to scale StartUp Panic like we do in-game, I’d devote 45% Technology, 35% Usability, and 20% to Aesthetics.

Players must use all the icons to gather information and graphs about their company and its rivals. There is a tech tree, a trait tree, and a decent amount of micro-management. One of the useful elements in StartUp Panic is the international map. So long as players have a rough idea of the population size and country location, they can aim their marketing to those areas. And because information and options are placed under menus, the UI is minimalistic. If players want to access the vacation option, they have to click the employee menu, then the employee list. In my opinion, it would be easier to have a popup on the individual characters

Algorocks cleverly placed several nods in StartUp panic from the Windows 95 era right up to the present day. I like some of the graphical choices in StartUp Panic like the cat that sporadically pops out of the filing cabinet or the computers that display images. Sometimes the computer will look similar to Adobe Photoshop and one is the old blue screen of death! It’s little details like these that I genuinely enjoy about this title.

Final Thoughts

StartUp Panic had me smiling from ear to ear for multiple reasons. Apart from the nods to the old version of Windows and the references to Clippy going on a date with ‘Seri’, I found another reason to be happy about this title. Early on players are introduced to a musician named AIYU. I was ecstatic at the reference of a real Japanese star in StartUp Panic. I have no idea if this was a deliberate choice but AYU, the shortened name for Ayumi Hamasaki, is a famous Jpop artist. She has released 17 studio albums, several live albums, and over twenty remix albums. This addition definitely increased my enjoyment of StartUp Panic. I was invested in this title - playing it longer than I would normally devote to a management simulator.

StartUp Panic certainly has its charm, but I personally found myself bored over time. Once you know the system of the game, it isn’t too difficult to keep yourself in the green. I would love to have had rejected investors cause more problems (depending on their status / position) or something a little more challenging. As such, I give StartUp Panic an 8 out of 10. It has a lot of merits and plenty of fun for a few hours, but there isn’t a ton of challenge or replayability, in my opinion. Its predictability became a bit of a hindrance even though it's a fantastic game.

Score: 8 / 10



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