While playing games centered around illegal activities, especially ones that feel definitely very very far out in the underground world, I have found that the approach that works best for me is usually that of having a firm tongue-in-cheek, while also taking the situation at face value. Honestly, I have always found “realistic” approaches, like that seen in titles like Drug Dealer Simulator to be not particularly interesting. I much prefer simulators to be much more “out there”, so indeed Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator does much better at putting us in the shoes of that very typical everyday activity of being, what else, a space warlord organ trader.
From the sweet unbalanced mind of Xavier Nelson Jr., Organ Trading Simulator presents itself in a sort of faux-8 bit space package, with that kind of interface one would expect to find in a vintage sci-fi movie from the 80s. The one where they were using an Apple II to fake the spaceship computer systems. But what is the game about? Well, it does exactly what it says on the tin: you’re out on the market to buy and sell organs. Naturally, since you’re not running a charity, the ideal situation is always to buy low and sell high, which might not always be that easy.
While it is possible to buy organs and then sell them in the future, which is indeed a possible tactic, it would be best to diversify, as indeed all traders worth a dime would recommend. So, ideally, one would want to look at the requests currently out on the market and plan ahead, as to fulfill the ones that are more lucrative, along with, naturally, those that further the story. But beware, because some people are actively out to scam you of your money: while sometimes it will be obvious, other times much less so.
Each day involves opening the trading section and watching out which organs are harvested and put on the market. Sometimes there will be floods of a particular organ, which naturally will make both price and demand much lower, but not always we will be notified in advance of such extraordinary events. Each trading day lasts no more than a couple of minutes and require the player to be on the lookout for both interesting pieces at low prices and open requests, along with the organs to fulfill them. This is made more complicated by the fact that each organ has a series of characteristics that might make it more or less valuable, along with being the subject of specific requests.
The market will give the trader specific information on each organ at a glance, but this will require the player to understand and get familiar with string of letters and numbers. It is indeed exciting when one becomes knowledgeable with the system and can easily rob more experienced traders of better pieces. Yes indeed, on the market there will be other traders who will easily steal valuable organs. Depending on the day, they may go as far as robbing you of each and every opportunity to buy organs; at least, luckily, they won’t steal requests. It is possible to offer a bribe, as to make them take a day off from trading, but I am kinda sad I cannot bribe the canine Chad Shakespeare with a treat.
While the system governing the overall gameplay of Organ Space Trading looks and feels simple, it is decepitively so. Each successful day of trading and specific requests completed will slowly unlock more gameplay features, along with things to be aware of. For example, keeping organs in store will be quite difficult unless one decides to invest money in a better refrigerated hold. It is that type of game that slowly reveals one layer at a time, but also shows directly its main inner workings pretty early on: if you don’t like trading, along with buying and selling, well, quite simply this is not the game for you.
I mentioned that graphically Organ Trading Simulator is dominated by various tints of green and black and indeed it is, but it is also enriched by some grade A pixel art provided by EGA specialist Julia Minamata (who I had the pleasure of having on a podcast here). All organs feel appropriately squishy and carefully animated to give the player that feeling of manipulating live pieces. The soundtrack is also gorgeous, alternating ambient and more disquieting pieces with different layers that will change depending on which page of the interface we are on.
I feel that Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator wants to scratch a very specific itch, an idea that could have easily ended up with a throwaway joke of a game. Instead, it feels very purposeful and appropriately squelchy and vaguely disquieting at each turn, along with – naturally – funny, because that’s the way Xavier Nelson Jr. rolls. Definitely recommended for those who are fascinated by anything related to selling and trading organs (uhm…) and, naturally, a very peculiar stock market exchange.