Garage Inc. is not your typical “local girl does good” time management sim. Instead of opening a restaurant, making customers happy, and eventually retiring to Tuscany, the main characters of Garage Inc. have to deal with much more sinister challenges.
You play as Angelo, a well-meaning family man living in Chicago in 1928. Angelo’s cousin Sal presents him with a generous loan to start up an auto-body shop, but it turns out that Sal got the money from the mafia. Angelo is forced to do favors for the mob, all while paying down a massive debt, with interest.
A gameplay mechanic who’s an actual mechanic.
It’s a far cry from Diner Dash. While the gameplay is similar, with Angelo organizing cars that arrive in need of repairs, the tone is refreshingly dark. Stylish, well-drawn cutscenes are combined with quality voice work to give the game’s story a film-like feel. If you love movies and TV shows about the mafia, especially during Prohibition, you’ll love Garage Inc., too.
With the interesting story driving you along, the time-management gameplay seems that much more important. You start off alone in the garage, doing all the diagnosing and repair work yourself. Angelo is a jack of all trades, and can perform any kind of maintenance in the game. However, you’ll eventually have to hire a small staff that can handle electrical work, body work, engine work, and general repairs.
Angelo is the only character who can diagnose cars and collect pay, so most of the game is about juggling your specialized workers and keeping Angelo focused on the essential tasks. If you leave Angelo alone with any kind of repair work, he’ll start to do it, but he’s slow and this will result in a backup.
This plate armor isn’t the only thing that’s going to get filled with holes.
Sometimes, you’ll have to do odd jobs for the mob. These include adding bulletproof armor to their cars and adding stronger suspension (hauling hooch can be murder on your jalopy’s shocks). These handful of minigames are a fun distraction, and they’re exceedingly clever.
After a few months of work (and a few hours of gameplay), with intermittent cutscenes, Garage Inc. ends on a sudden, surprising note. We won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say that it fits well within the crime drama genre. We wish there were multiple endings based on your performance, but there’s only the one, and it’s a doozy. We’re told that the developers hope to add leaderboards and an endless mode, and we think those would be great additions in the future to give Garage Inc. more replay value.
While it lasts, Garage Inc. is a gripping and dramatic game with quality time-management gameplay. It’s the kind of bold game development we’re excited to see on iOS devices, and we just hope to see more features added over time. Even if you’re not a regular customer of Diner Dash-style games, Garage Inc is creative enough that we can give it our highest recommendation.