PC Building Simulator Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Irregular Corporation

Publisher: Irregular Corporation

Release Date: August 13th 2019

Price as of Article: $19.99, £13.49

Download size: 4.9 GB

A simulator that allows you to build custom PCs from a vast array of officially licensed components. Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached peak geek.

Story

Uncle Tim has decided that he no longer wants to be a part of the rat race, and so he’s high-tailed it to some far flung, sun drenched locale to live the high life. Unfortunately for you, that means the family business is now in your hands, and it’s up to you to take the mantle from dear old Uncle Tim and continue to keep the computer repair shop running. No, this isn’t a joke – PC Building Simulator does weave this storyline in to a game that is essentially about messing with computers. Naturally, this is only the case in the extensive Career mode, wherein you are tasked with the daily running of the shop. You take orders by email, you make orders using an online PC components store, and then when customers’ broken rigs arrive, you set to work fulfilling the requirements of the repair. There’s way more to it than this though, as we’ll discover shortly.

Gameplay

As mentioned, the main Career mode sees you take over the daily running of a PC repair shop. You check your emails for repair requests and order the required parts from an online store. Customer orders let you know how much they can afford to pay for parts, and you also assign a labour cost to the job. Some jobs are bigger than others, and thus have a higher labour and parts cost assigned to them. Cleaning dust from a dirty machine will not net you as much cash as fully stripping out and replacing all the cabling, graphics card, and storage devices, then running a 3D Mark software package, for example. The game works on a sort of calendar basis, where every day you go to work, fulfill the jobs you can complete and then leave for the day. This allows for the passage of time for new components to arrive from the store, and also allows time for customer computers to arrive for repair.

It does sound quite simple, and it is on the face of it, but once you factor in customer reviews for the quality of your work, and having to juggle rent and bills for your repair shop, it can get a lot more involved. It basically becomes a ‘real life’ simulator in some ways. Sometimes, a customer will be unimpressed with your turnaround time, meaning they leave a negative review and this will lower your online reputation. This in turn has a knock-on effect on the type and complexity of the jobs you’ll be asked to do. As time passes, you’ll unlock the ability to buy the business from Uncle Tim (screw that guy!), and add new storage areas, work benches to the shop, and upgrade your tools. It does take a while to get away from just blowing dust out of computers and upgrading RAM, but with perseverance, more interesting jobs will start to trickle in.

The game is played from a first person perspective, and the whole game takes place in a fully rendered 3D office/workshop that lets you wander around freely. It isn’t especially large, but it’s functional and allows you to roam to the entrance area to collect newly delivered PCs, pick them up and then carry them over to the work bench. Once on the bench, you can switch to a static viewpoint where you can zoom in to the PC, remove and replace components, remove cables, and peer at the nicely modelled innards of the computers. Further to this, if you are required to boot machines to run virus checks or mess about with the BIOS, you can turn the systems on (after connecting all the required cables, of course!) and then play around with a fictional OS and BIOS system. It actually feels rather odd using a virtual PC on a Switch, but it’s also rather cool, in a totally nerdy type of way.

All of the PC components are fully licensed, meaning you’ll be seeing a lot of the familiar logos of Nvidia, ASUS, AMD, Corsair, Razer, Intel et al; and they all operate within the real-world parameters that you’d expect. If you fail to install a powerful enough PSU then a graphics card might refuse to work, or you may purchase incompatible RAM, or the fans might not be efficient enough to cool the CPU sufficiently. In order to get at the PC components, you highlight the part you want to remove or tweak (using the mouse pointer controlled with the left analogue stick), and the onscreen prompts tell you what to press. Adding components is done through a fairly intuitive menu system that can also be accessed using the Switch touch screen if you find the physical controls a bit fiddly. Basically, the realism is very impressive, and if building PCs is a particular hobby of yours in real life, you’ll get a lot out of PC Building Simulator.

Likewise though, if you’re a complete novice at building PCs, there’s a thorough tutorial mode called How to Build a PC that explains – you guessed it – how to build a PC, what the main components are and what they do. It’s actually very educational and could be worth a look just for this mode alone if you’re a complete newcomer or not computer literate. That said, don’t expect to go into PC Building Simulator and find a fully working version of Windows lurking within. While that would be nice, the bespoke and imaginary OS installed on the systems will only allow you to use rudimentary tools that are necessary to test components. A version of shareware Doom with full speed music and no Bethesda Net login would have been nice though!

Alongside the Career and How to Build a PC modes, there’s also a Free Build option, that puts all of the officially licensed components in the game at your disposal, and allows you to create an infinite number of customised rigs. Because all of the major PC component manufacturers are involved, you can choose from a bewildering array of cases, processors, motherboards, RAM models, lighting, cooling systems, storage devices, power supplies and put compatible parts together in a truly ridiculous number of configurations. If you’re a fan of PC modding and building, like the idea of the strategy of running a business, and the puzzle aspects of buying the right components and stock/putting the systems together, then PC Building Simulator is the game you have been waiting for.

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Audio

Rather surprisingly, PC Building Simulator actually sounds great. There’s not a lot in the way of sound effects – there’s probably only so much you should expect from the sound of compressed are blowing dust out of a PC case – but everything is perfectly functional. Fans will whir, storage devices will click, and OSes will announce their booting with a triumphant tone. It’s the music where PC Building Simulator really shines though, with a cool lineup of soothing beats and soft rock. Special mention goes to the rap lamenting the tribulations of fixing PCs, too!

Visuals & Performance

Again, PC Building Simulator is perfectly functional in the visuals and performance area too. It’s hardly pushing the Switch, but all of the PC cases, components, and cabling are well modeled and look very accurate. The environment in which the game takes place is also nicely detailed, and while (as mentioned earlier) the office/workshop isn’t particularly large, there are no frame rate issues or juddering. Docked performance is spot on, and hand held is no different, and kudos must go the to the developer for making the on-screen text and emails perfectly legible, even when playing on the Switch’s built-in display. PC Building Simulator was never going to push the hardware, but what’s here looks really good.

Value

At the time of writing this review, PC Building Simulator is listed on the UK Switch eShop at a discounted price of £13.49. The regular price is £14.99 (and the regular US price is $19.99), so even at full price it isn’t overly expensive. Granted, this is a niche product that won’t be for everyone, but for those who find PC building and modding enjoyable but maybe don’t have the funds to partake in the hobby in reality, it’s a perfect alternative. There’s a lot of enjoyment to be gleaned with the main Career mode offering hours of challenge, while the Free Build option has almost infinite replay value. Furthermore, as an educational tool, PC Building Simulator could be an invaluable resource if you’re trying to brush up on your IT knowledge.

Pros

P

Lots of variety in components

P

Officially licensed PC parts

P

Great, educational tutorial

P

Very relaxing gameplay

P

Lots of replay value

P

Looks and sounds good

Cons

P

Extremely niche subject matter

P

Career mode takes a while to get going

P

Concept will undoubtedly put people off