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Silicon Valley Simulator: Startup Panic Review

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Startup Panic Logo

Startup Panic is a management game covering the rise of a startup company from a single person in their apartment to a multi-million world-spanning tech empire. Simulator and management titles have for years "game-ified" every aspect of life, so how well does Startup Panic match the realities of branching out from a potentially soul-crushing programming industry?

Platforms: Android, Steam [Reviewed]
Developer: Algorocks
Publisher: tinyBuild
Release: January 20, 2022
MSRP: $14.99

Press Copy provided by tinyBuild

Progress bars often rule the lives of tech industry employees, and so it is only fitting that it is similar in Startup Panic. Abstractified to an absurd degree, tasks are given to employees with ratings in 3 or 4 different categories. They then follow the progress bar and you receive a result based on your company traits and employee skill. It is a simple but potentially intoxicating loop if done correctly, where proper management of time and resources can result in victory over time.

Startup Panic Contract Priority

Yet, for most games that feature this level of micromanagement, they often receive a boon from their presentation. In terms of its aesthetics, Startup Panic falls short here. Music is repetitive and sounds are mildly grating even when the volume is lowered. Granted, they aren't abhorrent and this is well above playable, but for a game that revolves around dialogue boxes, progress bars, and button clicks, it is more annoying than it potentially needs to be.

Even though the game requires a keen eye for details, watching your employees work is akin to a screensaver. Often it is difficult to receive any sort of information from the part of the game that exists on roughly 75% of the screen. Otherwise, the art style is average. Pixel-art chibi employees roam the office and all portraits are very "indie". Considering the subject of the game, this is equally appropriate and derivative.

Startup Panic Market Share

The gameplay is lacking in general. Job postings are given a general description that, without tech knowledge, would be practically unreadable. It boils down to scanning for keywords that the game uses: "aesthetics," "usability," and others making decisions of employee priority relatively trivial. Others, though, are difficult to quantify and you end up failing the job because the information presented lacked clarity.

Startup Panic Upgraded Office Space

The gameplay loop can be addicting though for those who have the right mindset. After all, watching big numbers go even higher as a result of one's own actions is how many mobile games make their mark on the world. Games don't need to be complex, and complexity can sometimes make a game worse rather than better.

Many of the complaints against this game rely on the mechanic of motivation as their sticking point. But, there are many other mechanics that can be used to make this not an issue, and part of the fun is micromanaging employee stress levels to optimize performance. That is what a manager is supposed to do, after all, even if it does feel bad to send a stressed employee back into the fray.

Startup Panic Employee Training

If you look at what Startup Panic is at its core, it is a management game that relies on the interconnecting mechanics it presents to create a cohesive if repetitive, gameplay loop. A progress bar isn't fun on its own, but finding out the percentage bonuses, employee traits, and event timers to make a big number just a bit higher can be fun. Although I didn't find this loop compelling, I can easily imagine someone who would find it both very addicting. All this taken into account though, it could still definitely use some more background music tracks.


  • Runs well on low-end PC's
  • Progression is obvious and achievable
  • Cohesive gameplay loop
  • Easy to learn, hard to master
  • Writing is clear and funny


  • Hotkeys are confusing or clunky
  • Gameplay isn't exciting for most
  • Background music is repetitive
  • In-game job postings are confusing
  • Presentation and art style is lacking
  • Game can be dull at times




Good games are simply that: good. They are generally fun to play but might be lacking in longevity, replay value, or presentation. These games might be good buying decisions for some people, but not for others. Some otherwise great games may fall into this category if they are priced unreasonably high. The devil is in the details.


Want to know what this score means? Check out our Scoring Guidelines page.

About the Author: Collin Westbrook

Collin Westbrook joined in 2010 to help with Zelda Castle, and has since rejoined the staff multiple times throughout Nintendo Castle's existence. He is a lover of strategy games, platformers, and everything Nintendo. Look out for him editing guides, writing articles, and helping the site in whatever way he can.

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