After much contemplation and struggling with the character limit, I decided to call my vineyard Grapes of Wrath. It’s cheeky, but in my defense so is this charming little game. Once again, I find myself playing a simulation of something I fantasize about but know I will never get to experience firsthand. And while the little corner in my kitchen I proudly call the fermentation station has not yet seen any wine, with the help of Hundred Days I was able to kind of live that experience. So, in this Hundred Days Winemaking Simulator review, I’ll recount my delights and frustrations with this unique title.
Hundred Days Winemaking Simulator Review: What Is It?
Hundred Days Winemaking Simulator is a game with a backstory. The game was designed by an actual oenology (fancy talk for wine wizard) and was inspired by their childhood and experiences. So no worries, everything in this game is as authentic as it could be.
The game’s Stardew Valley-esque start takes place after you quit your corporate job to take over the Old Man’s vineyard. You, a total noob, invade the world of wine with the help of overly friendly neighbors and acquaintances. From there on you are involved in the winemaking process from planting to aging and beyond. But that’s a simplification, because the steps in between are the real treat.
The game takes place over the different seasons each passing as a few in-game days. However, you take control of the vineyard through an interesting system best described as a mix between tetris and a card game. Each “tile” you place takes a set number of turns to complete and in the meantime take up precious space on the board. So effectively, you will always be managing your time (as some actions only happen during certain seasons) and resources through this peculiar mechanic.
But besides this strange system, you are indeed managing a winery. You buy land, manage breeds of yeast and grapes, maintain your equipment, and bottle and sell the fruit of your labor.
A Full-bodied Experience
Like fine wine (and hard liquors), the more I tried this game the more I appreciated it. It has a lot of great moments and it puts a much needed twist on the tried and true simulation formula.
Simple Gampelay, Deep Premise
Real winemaking is a stuffy and long-winded practice with ridiculous complexity. Hundred Days, is not. This game is elegant, relaxing, and yet has an impressive amount of nuance. It seems like all the processes that go into making wine should overwhelm the player, but it does not. Everything is there, but it is all simplified. And, after a couple of in-game years, I found that I understood most of the game’s jargon.
Intuitive Resource Management
The board action system thing also turned out quite enjoyable. It looks like a puzzle – that’s for sure – but I don’t believe it was meant to be one. The real puzzle is how you will manage your in-game time and ever-growing resources. This system was not an obstacle to that whatsoever. The first time I harvested 2 different grape varieties only to find I did not have enough room on the board to press both varieties, I got angry at myself and at the game. However, I was wary of that the next harvest season – which brings me to my favorite thing about Hundred Days.
An Exciting Sense Of Exploration
In the end, what kept me playing this game 6 hours after I started my journey in one sitting was the sense of exploration. I was enjoying the trial-and-error spirit of Hundred Days. It felt a lot like fermenting things in my fermentation station. Yes, everything can go south but so what? I can try again, tweaking a tiny bit where I think things went wrong. The game punished me for getting things wrong, but it wasn’t sadistic. Nothing went on your permanent record and as long as I was curious, I was welcome to try again and again.
Sure enough, after a lot of tinkering, the weird numbers began to make sense and I was talking in the wine jargon like I was a protege. More importantly, through all of this, I did not get bored or lose interest. This game was made by someone that truly loved the winemaking process and is excitedly and wholesomely explaining it to a willing listener.
Not The Best Aftertaste
There is a lot that I found absolutely delightful writing this Hundred Days Winemaking Simulator review, there were some things not so great. As much as I enjoyed the gameplay and the visual charm of the game, the story and how it was delivered left me disappointed.
I will be blunt about this, I hated every single character (including the cat) that was introduced. It’s a shame that such beautifully designed characters had dialogue ripped right out of an Adam Sandler movie. The characters seemed like they were having simultaneous monologues instead of one coherent conversation. And, worst of all was the protagonist – who was probably a failing stand-up comedian. It all felt so weird against the wholesome and relaxing theme of the game.
That, in part, made me almost audibly sigh at every cutscene (and they were many) that I came across. I almost regretted playing the story mode of the game. It is such a strange juxtaposition that the game would be wholesome and the characters this cast of grotesque caricatures.
Hundred Days Winemaking Simulation is a great game that was sabotaged last minute by a weird addition. I thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay and I consider it one of the best and most unique simulation experiences I’ve had in a while.
It is absolutely mind boggling why these cutscenes and dialogues made their way into the game. But, did they ruin the experience? Absolutely not, they just brought the tannin levels a few points up.