Does Mech Mechanic Simulator make maintaining mech mechanisms more manageable?
While simulator games have been around a long time, there’s been an explosion in the genre due to the wild success of 2013’s darkly comedic Surgeon Simulator. Ever since then there have been countless games purporting to simulate some menial task or another. From cooking and cleaning, to car repairs and PC construction are available in simulator form, alongside more bizarre offerings such as thievery and — um — having hands. Recently I’ve been working my way through the world of mech repairs via the console release of Mech Mechanic Simulator. So, is it an Atlas of the genre, or an Urbanmech on the battlefield?
The premise of the game is fairly similar to the likes of Car Mechanic Simulator and PC Building Simulator, in which you run a business repairing mechs to earn money which allows you to buy upgrades and carry out more complex repairs. You’ll pick a contract to take on, remove mech limbs, replace broken parts, and claim the cash reward. Things become a touch more complicated when clients request paint jobs and calibration for their battle bots, but the core of the game remains pretty consistent throughout — pick a mech, fix the mech, pick another mech, and earn your fortune.
First impressions aren’t great for this console release, which includes a mouse sensitivity option in the menu when using a controller, before instructing me to use my mouse during the tutorial. More irritating is that the tutorial doesn’t really explain all the controls clearly enough, resulting in my struggling to remove anything from the initial mech until I tried out various button combinations. Once past that initial issue though, I started to work my way through the various mech options.
You’ll clean and scan the mech for problems, before removing the offending parts and replacing them with new or repaired ones, carrying out a couple of additional tasks here and there too, which I’ll get to later. At its core, Mech Mechanic Simulator is fairly mundane in that you’re doing the same kind of thing repeatedly, but it does have that almost zen quality that comes with these types of games. It’s quite relaxing to take apart an arm, and rebuild it again before moving on to another part. I imagine it would be more enjoyable with a mouse though, as the controls in the console release are a bit fiddly.
As you earn money, you can do more for your clients via upgrades for your workshop. You may be asked to update the operating system, or repaint the mech via a rudimentary but serviceable painting and decal system. You can also calibrate the mech via mining, combat, and traversal mini games. These do not play well and feel like an afterthought, with the traversal mini game being quite dreadful. Thankfully these are really only there to earn extra money if you choose to. There are also options to repair the parts you’ve removed from mechs, but once again I found these mini games to be a bit tedious and ended up just selling the broken parts.
Mech Mechanic Simulator does have all the parts needed to be as enjoyable as PC Building Simulator, a game that I’ve poured a lot of hours into, but I think its main issue is that it’s incredibly niche. In other games of this style, I know what I’m working with. I understand what a graphics card is for a PC, and what a spark plug is for a car, but a Minotaur CH/04 doesn’t really mean anything. I never really felt like I was fixing something with a problem, more that I was finding the object marked in purple and changing it for the same thing. There are options to be a bit more creative when you’re eventually able to buy your own mechs, but the bulk of the game comes down to swapping one part for another. The various little additions like the stock market and shop price fluctuations don’t really change this much.
The visuals are quite nice at least, especially when looking out of the workshop window. There’s a really interestingly designed world out there that reminds me of a brighter LA from Blade Runner. Inside the workshop is more mundane, but the mechs themselves are very detailed, with a huge number of individual parts that can be removed, taking a limb down to its absolute basic core. The developers have done a pretty good job of highlighting what’s connected to each part to help you disconnect and rebuild in the correct order. This element is by far the best designed part of the game, and seeing as Mech Mechanic Simulator is mostly about deconstruction and rebuilding, that’s a really good thing.
Sadly, there were a significant number of occasions — often when I was looking around the workshop rather than working on a mech — where there were major frame drops. This isn’t a game with a huge, complex player world, and running it on an Xbox Series X meant I was more than a little surprised with this. On a previous gen console this might be more understandable, but not here.
The sound side of things is something of a mixed bag. Whilst the clunks and whirrs of you working on the mech are satisfying, the music is utterly dreadful, with about three tracks that repeat ad nauseum. I switch the music off within my first hour of playing. I also switched off the ‘banter’ from the robot buddy because of how annoying it was. The robot also voices the tutorials, so occasionally there’s no choice but to listen to it.
Mech Mechanic Simulator is an incredibly niche title, and on console it’s even more so. Whilst I didn’t dislike my time with it, I knew it would be significantly more enjoyable being played with a keyboard and mouse. Still, there really isn’t anything else out there that simulates this specific thing. I wouldn’t mind a second, much more refined game like this, that’s more polished and perhaps features a greater variety of mechs. Something set in the Battletech universe could be a lot of fun. For now though, this is the best option out there to build your big stompy death bots.