Cartel Tycoon goes all in on the drug cartel leader fantasy and mines the setting for as many concepts as possible. The management game is good, with a mix of mechanics and with clear challenges for players to work through. I like the look of the game and most of the writing fits well with the ‘80s Latin American world it is evoking. The mix of two narrative-driven campaigns alongside a sandbox and survival modes is a solid one. But the development team at Moon Moose could have been less classic in their approach to core game concepts. There’s nothing here that the management game space has not already tried. Cartel Tycoon is well-suited for anyone who already likes the genre or the setting but it does not innovate in any meaningful way.
When all is said and done, it’s a game in which you are given the feel of managing a somewhat volatile drug empire with a bunch of violent people who are more than willing to break the law in the name of their own self-enrichment, and that alone is enough to make the game fun enough to stand on its own. It justifies its existence and goes above and beyond in a lot of places.
Cartel Tycoon gets the basics right, and its low price may entice some fans of management games. However, more could have been done with the setting and some of the mechanics. There are better options in the genre.
Cartel Tycoon provides a complex business simulator with many moving parts. It is a challenge to learn, but the game provides everything you need to know in an easily digestible way. There are enough obstacles that you can constantly challenge yourself and be entertained by your success in the narcotics trade. Unfortunately, some mechanics are too complex for their own good and the game isn’t always clear on what some things can do. It’s a good survival simulator, but dragged down by its own preventable flaws.
Cartel Tycoon has some very interesting ideas that are unfortunately overshadowed by an inconsequential story and a certain lack of depth in its management strategy. It's addictive and fun, but it has the potential to be so much more.
SummaryCartel Tycoon is a survival business sim inspired by the ‘80s narco trade. Expand and conquer, fight off rival cartels and evade the authorities. Earn people's loyalty and strive to overcome the doomed fate of a power-hungry drug lord.