Here’s an idea. A tycoon builder game about making and selling drugs. But also let players sell them under the table at legitimate businesses like a fried chicken restaurant.
Developer Dope Games are on to something here, or on something come to think of it, when they envision Definitely Not Fried Chicken. The idea may be easily associated to be inspired by a very particular TV series, but still, such an idea as a game might still work.
As it is right now in the launch of Early Access? Definitely Not Fried Chicken has way too many rough edges that need ironing out. But should they nail the execution once it leaves Early Access this could be a fun silly game about making money running a totally legit business empire. That’s what the lawyer ask me to say, totally legit.
Definitely Not Fried Chicken is set in the 80’s in the town called Paradise City, where the grass is green and the central park is available to you to build your drug den. You start with a small plot of land, but can continue to expand once you have the dough.
The main loop is building green rooms for plants to grow and getting the workers to manufacture drugs of various kinds. And then it’s off to be shipped to customers directly, or to your established businesses.
You can send them to say, the local gun shop, or the university, and you’ll earn special currency to upgrade your operation like access to guns, a car, and more drug varieties to grow and cook. You can also send them directly to customers on a hotline, like delivering pizza to a house party but it’s definitely not pizza. These deals may also be time-limited too, so you better haul them quick.
You can also invest in building legitimate businesses, that may or may not offer under-the-counter drugs. You could send some stocks to your businesses, which can range from laundromats to well, chicken shops.
Your businesses can be attacked so you want guards that can handle the heat. Workers you employ have needs to be taken care of so you need to provide the amenities or see them go green, puke all over the place, and then lay dead somewhere in the complex. The green greens also require some delicate handling, requiring the right amount of light as well as other criteria for them to grow. And once you get your business joints rolling, you can invest in more business fronts, bigger drug factories and more upgrades.
It’s a fascinating idea. In the 9 hours or so I spent with the game, I’ve been buying the city’s lands and lots and building up a multiple franchises of various businesses. The world is alive, with all the city map and its traffic rendered at any given time, and you can just jump from one business to another with no loading screens once you’re in a game.
The game can be gruesomely silly at times. Deaths are brutal, slaughtering chickens straight from the farm is sickening to see, but the voxel graphics really helps make it all look silly so it balances out.
On paper, Definitely Fried Chicken sounds solid. But the execution as of right now leaves a lot to be desired.
The UI is a mess right now. Tutorial overlays can be blocked or go under other UI boxes so you might miss a prompt (which is true during the pre-release version, but thankfully has been fixed). Dialogue text appears so slowly with no option to just have it appear sans animation without skipping them altogether. The buttons to create or delete a room are too small to see what the icon even looks like. The game is set in one contiguous map but it’s hard to reorient and find your plots from panning the camera around (the insta-zoom to plots when selecting them in the plots tab does the trick, so this in particular is a bit nit-picky).
Sending out drugs is also a pain if you don’t understand the UI of it. Apparently, at the Dispatch Drugs screen, the list in the Garages tab on the left is the list of vehicles in the garage, and you have to click on them individually, which aren’t properly labelled, and then pick a target on the city map, for them to run. I thought for the longest time that it was a bug that my fleet of four mopeds only had one working and there are definitely ways to make this clearer to the player.
Similarly, the UI for setting schedules is cumbersome (there has to be a better way than having to tick 24 individual boxes every time to set work hours) and obscure (the notifications are not useful, and lack important notifications like “why is this worker idling” or “why is the production line not moving”. Also, maybe a designation of where your drug-hauling vehicles will be parking on a business lot so you can build the store room closer to the parking spot.
On another note, can we have a “staff only” door in the business premises? It’s so odd to see customers waiting in line for either their chicken dinner set or cloudy meth (only either or, never together, interestingly) only to peace out by going over the counter and into the store room because that’s the faster way out apparently.
Plus, I reckon the tutorial is teaching you the wrong lessons. If you follow that, which you should at least do it once just for the context of why the heck the owner of a chicken shop named the Major (heh) is out to get you, it introduces you to the Hotline. This allows you to take delivery jobs, like an UberEats but for weeds.
The thing is, the payoff for completing this in the early game- 8 cannabis for around $704, pays absolutely terribly compared to having it sold at shops, where 1 bad-quality of the same thing can rake in at least $100. And when you’re stuck with just mopeds out there delivering products one at a time, you’ll be too slow to turn your green-selling business in the green. The three legit business fronts you can own in this stage of Early Access (Laundromat, Donut Shop, Chicken Shop), all of them would net you at most about $20 per customer. It’s better off to ignore Hotline, turn it off, and focus on selling the products at your turf.
If you’re a stickler of issues like this, consider waiting and wishlist the game first. There’s silly fun to be had, especially when everything takes a turn for the worse. I left the game on fast-forward for a couple of in-game days focusing on making my laundromat aesthetically pleasing only to find out that the drug factory is filthy, workers turning green and puking everywhere, all of them reeks with flies surrounding them, especially that one guy who, apparently, was dead.
And at its best, Definitely Fried Chicken is definitely a game you can lose hours on end just watching the business empire grow. It can be addictive, it’s just that so many parts that make a tycoon game like this so much fun to play are buried under fixable issues. The devs have cracked to code to make this game as addicting as crack just yet.
If the devs can get the game UI to be slicker, and sort out bugs, Definitely Not Fried Chicken has the potential to be a dope dope-dealing tycoon game. But for now, let them cook.
(Cook what? Definitely not fried chicken.)
Played on PC. Review key provided by the publisher.