Mention Lionhead’s ’05 management sim about running a film studio and someone will crash through the wall, Kool-Aid Man style, to say they really liked it and there should be a remake or a sequel. In recent years there have been a few attempts to make a game like The Movies, with games like Moviehouse and Filmmaker Tycoon sitting pretty at ‘mostly negative’ status on Steam because they are not, in fact, like The Movies beyond the basic premise. But Blockbuster Inc. has shouldered its way into the conversation, wearing big puffy trousers, shouting through an old-timey megaphone, and openly billing itself as a “spiritual successor” to The Movies. It’s launching on June 6th this year, but you can play the prologue on Steam for free right now.

I’ve had a little go and it seems alright! You start off in the 1920s and pick the themes of film you start with (you can research to unlock more). There’s a lot of granular stuff to get into to make your studio more efficient – like, you can set the hours of work, leisure and when meal times are – and though I didn’t get to that point, you can see that you can hire more advanced roles. Sure, you need producers and writers and actors, but you also need staff to run the canteen, stuntmen for better action scenes, but eventually you’ll be looking at VFX workers and things like that.

Part of your job is managing the lot itself, making sure there are enough amenities and sets and offices for your employees, and I like the small details in the furniture, and some of the QOL features like pre-built rooms or copying blueprints. It does remind you a bit of Bullfrog classics and things like that in the layout of the menus. Aside from the lot, you also have to manage the actual products you make. You can choose the budget (which affects the hype and length of the film or TV show), the writers, actors and director, and can force reshoots because the first take usually comes out a bit rubbish. But you can actually direct scenes yourself, choosing the camera angles, effects, and the staging. That’s pretty neato.

I can’t say how Blockbuster Inc. plays out over a longer timeframe, but earlier indications are good. Or at least, better than previous attempts to make a The Movies-like have gone. Have a crack at the prologue now, or wait until June 6th for the full release if you’re a daredevil.

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