by Dan Lenois
reviewed on PC
No Army camp should be an empty camp...
Your first and most urgent priority at any time in-game will be ensuring you have the right personnel at hand to overcome any obstacle, and to do that, you need recruits. Every day, new potential recruits will line up in the front office, impatiently waiting for their shot at joining your not-so-elite ranks. While they all have their own unique individual character stats, don't worry, you can always put them through hell on the training ground until you've successfully beaten all individualism out of them and made them conform to what you see in them. After all, what fun is raising them up, when you can just beat them down instead? Luckily, your troops won't hold a grudge, as long as you make sure to build them an on-site movie theater and nine-hole miniature golf course within the first week!
See the sights, listen to the sounds...
While One Military Camp admittedly has barely anything in the vein of a narrative, it still insists on including a number of partially-animated comic book style cutscenes where good and bad characters shake their fists at one another while spouting cliché dialogue that often thinks it's clever and funny, but never seems to quite stick the landing. The lack of any voiceover in these one-to-two minute long cutscenes, while not by any means a deal-killer, makes these interactions feel rushed, and often unnecessary. While removing all spoken word in favor of indistinct grunting and other minimalistic cues can work well for comedy, as evidenced by the earlier LEGO games, such as TT Games' LEGO Star Wars I & II, the main difference is that the scenes were full-animated, and each character had dozens, if not hundreds, of different audible reactions that tied in well contextually with whatever was going on at the time. Few things kill audio immersion faster than your military instructor NPC making the same exact groan sound for the third time in a row in less than a minute.
Manage your time, and you'll be fine...
The missions themselves are easily the game's biggest flaw. Being forced to engage in yet another lifeless mission that sucks the soul out of one's being faster than a Harry Potter dementor, simply because the cash payout will help fund your camp, is sadly the beating heart that keeps the game going after the first hour or so, once the player has familiarized themselves with the core mechanics. To fund your camp and its personnel, you need money, which namely only missions will provide. In a pinch, players can also take out bank loans, but the interest rates involved will put you into bankruptcy if you don't quickly get back on your feet and get some missions done.
Each mission has its own requirements. You'll need to send out different personnel types depending on what's required. Sometimes you need to go in loud and heavy, and other times you'll instead be doing recon. Once the mission starts though, that's where your involvement generally ends. Instead, you get to sit and watch a percentage counter slowly tick up, as your squad completes their mission. Occasionally, a tactical choice will have to be made, represented by a single still image and a few clickable options. But otherwise, you just wait and do nothing.
Doing nothing is perhaps One Military Camp's biggest problem, which may turn away many players. Unlike games like XCOM, which put you front-and-center in combat scenarios, here you're not even given the dubious honor of watching things play out, let alone have any direct say in it, outside of a few scripted choices. Likewise, camp management largely revolves around just keeping more personnel than you lose, and making sure your supplies don't run out.
While acting as quartermaster is fine, it doesn't seem unreasonable to hope that the core gameplay loop would bring a bit more to the table. While the in-game progression system is interesting in theory, most unlocks are merely upgrades of existing buildings or units, with minor efficiently bonuses. Limiting player customization to almost exclusively cosmetic oversight, rather than camp utility, does little to incentivize longterm play. One Military Camp gets the basics of base-building down fine, but asking anything more of it might be expecting too much...
Colorful art tone, distinct upbeat tone, extensive customization options
Bland repetitive missions, very little replay value