We received the product for review and all opinions are our own.
I love a good phone game, and I also love wine. So, when I got a chance to review Hundred Days, a winemaking game from Broken Arm Games, I jumped at it. I am also a fan of open-ended social simulation games—like Animal Crossing—that are relaxed but provide a creative outlet. Hundred Days falls into this category. And like many of these games, it has its strengths and its drawback.
About the Game
There are three modes of play: story, endless, and challenge. Players need to start in story mode to get a hang of the game as well as get the necessary tutorial. Endless is just like story play but with limited tutorial info. Challenge is something for those who have fully played throughout story mode; without the full knowledge of the game, this portion is not playable.
The story mode takes you set-by-step through several years of owning and operating a vineyard. Your character, Emma, has recently come into possession of a vineyard and winery in Italy. Emma leaves her old office life behind and gets to Italy to find Anna, her friendly, talkative neighbor. Anna helps Emma make connections and provides tidbits along the way.
The player interacts with the game by playing cards. These cards represent the actions needed for grape growing, winemaking, and sales, and they have a certain number of “days” attached for their completion. They arrive about at the time they can be played sometimes, though, some show up at less opportune times, like harvest while it’s raining or early winter pruning. When ready, the player places each card in the “vineyard.” A player can put out more than one card at a time if there is space. It takes regular upgrades to the vineyard size to do more than one action a day, but I found that after two upgrades, I was moving along much better.
Of course, vineyard upgrades, new equipment, and other useful items cost money, and the only way to really get money is to make and sell wine. Luckily, in story mode, characters appear to help teach Emma, and the player, about winemaking. The story mode leads the player through the process while providing interesting info about vineyard management, harvest, and winemaking. Several characters help you along this journey.
- Teo, the friendly vineyard manager, provides useful info on weeding, suckering, crop thinning, pruning, and harvest.
- Gianni is the oenologist. This cantankerous fellow helps during many different stages and provides important info on destemming and crushing; fermentation, including duration and pump-over/punch down; and pressing.
- Satoshi, the local wine bar owner, helps by tasting and buying the wine. He also helps with connections to other characters, like the journalist Carlo and buyers. For many, a Japanese wine bar owner in Italy seems odd; however, this is an obvious homage to the manga Drops of God.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The game does have some definite strengths. One is the traditional designing ability that social simulation games often have, providing a creative outlet. In the beginning, you can create a profile, which includes your name and logo. The logo design gives you options for a picture, background, and colors. When bottling, you can choose bottle color, bottle type, sealing (such as cork), and label.
It is also a very forgiving game. The wine made does get a rating on the typical 100-point scale. While most are used to seeing ratings in the 80s and 90s, early batches will not be in this range. After four years, I started in the 60s and got into the 70s. This may sound bad, but Satoshi assures me the wine is good, and it does sell.
Its greatest strength is in education. The story mode provides good information to learn about the grape growing, winemaking, and selling process. The game was partially designed by those in the industry including some helpful winemakers and wineries. It provides simple info to help a novice player while also providing more detailed info for those with some wine experience and knowledge.
However, it has its drawbacks. This includes some missing info on different actions, a repetitive nature, and size. In fact, some of these drawbacks made me not want to play, so, as of this writing, I have yet to finish the story mode.
Winemaking education works only if the player knows what different notations mean. The game has target numbers for sweetness, tannins, and body. However, the areas where the process is adjusted to deal with that are not clear. Gianni states the Barbera (first grape grown) needs a sweetness and tannin of 2/10, and the bar for the wine does have 10 spots. However, there are three different notifications provided while choosing how to press, etc. There is the solid bar, which I assumed mentions the number out of 10. There were also bars with moving “drops” that I never figured out. Then, there is the bar with the star which can be gleaned from the context: a star is the sweet spot.
The game is repetitive. That is a feature of open-ended social simulation games. The actions are not particularly varied and do not provide a lot of choice, likely due to the platform. I quickly found myself going through the motions of playing cards, selling wine, and expanding my vineyard and equipment.
Most of all, it can be hard to read and use on a phone’s screen. The text is small; add in some odd color and font choices, and the text can become very hard to read. This can stall playing, much like not knowing what certain notations mean. However, the game is headed to Nintendo Switch; the normal screen is much larger, but it will also be playable through the TV (for compatible Switches).
Hundred Days has lots to recommend. For those who have some basic wine knowledge and are eager to learn more, this game will provide that. My knowledge gained from learning from grape growers, winemakers, and wine study, as well as reading Drops of God, helped me navigate the game and get more out of the educational portion. I enjoyed being able to make decisions in the game and see results—both immediate and long-term.
However, for anyone looking for a simple phone game, it is not a good fit. Play sessions are generally best if they are 30 minutes or more (two to three times average mobile play times) and need concentration that other popular titles do not require. It can be difficult to figure out at times and hard to read. Hopefully, some of these issues are likely to be less of a problem when it heads to Switch.
Get the app Hundred Days in your phone’s app store today!
Try good classic FreeCell solitaire if you want a simple, fun game for your phone.