You're an enterprising person, always on the lookout for an opportunity. So in 1849, an excellent indie city management simulation game by Somasim, when the call of "there's gold in them thar hills!" reaches your ears, you decide to take the California gold rush by the horns and make a nice profit along the way. Making money may sound great, but you've got your work cut out for you if you want to see a penny. Each scenario begins in a different Californian town with various goals which are listed before you begin. Some pertain to attracting a certain number of people to your town, others require you to build certain structures or ship a certain number of goods, and you get to choose one of three bonuses to start out.
The level always starts you with a depot and a road going through town. The depot is the place to keep track of what goods you have, and you can click on the depot building or on the silver circle in the bottom left of the screen to view your inventory. The golden button next to it is where you keep track of your trade routes, which are an important way to keep your cash flowing, or to buy the goods you can't produce yourself. Point and click your way around the menu on the right to find the buildings you want to build along with their cost. You can review your goals and talk to your town advisers by clicking on the corresponding tab in the upper left part of the screen. Your advisers help you keep track of your finances, and let you know what supplies your residents need. You can build wherever you want inside the box, but, with the exception of houses, a building will not be active unless it is next to a road.
Having a few houses is a good way to start as they provide rent money. They don't cost anything to build, but you have to provide residents with a supply of food, lumber, and other supplies, depending on how many residents it can hold, or people will begin to move out. If you build too many houses too soon, you may not have enough food for your residents, or you'll end up with high unemployment which causes crime. It's a delicate balancing act, since you must rely on the revenue from housing rental until you can get some profitable trading routes in place.
The levels are challenging, especially if you try for the side quests, called commissions, that pop up occasionally. These are hard assignments to fill, but you'll be rewarded nicely if you can pull it off. The twangy-ness of the soundtrack, while appropriate to the setting, does start get old if you play for long stretches... which you probably will. While it's the management of the town that draws you in, it sometimes can feel like there's a little too much micromanagement. The stockpiling feature helps with this, but it would also be nice to have some automation with the trade routes. The computer versions include a sandbox mode (please note: sandbox mode is not supported on tablets as of this writing) where you can build your dream town. There are a few town decorations, but the more decorative items would be fun to play around with, as would the ability to move and rotate your buildings.1849 fills a not too simple, yet not so complex as to be overwhelming gap in the simulation genre that hasn't had an outstanding game for awhile. Be prepared to lose hours of your life becoming a well known tycoon in California.