Foundry is an incredibly addictive factory sim | Early access impressions

by on April 29, 2024

It’s likely a sign of my age that more and more these days I’m drawn to relaxing “busy” games. And not only busy, but peaceful. It’s all well and good being able to build up a thriving community, farmstead or production line, but more often than not games will conjure a way to threaten, undermine, or outright destroy what you’ve built. Foundry, currently in early access, doesn’t do this. While it’s not without its threats (there’s nothing worse than seeing a conveyor stalled because your storage facility is full, I can tell you!), it allows you to build and create and experiment without the threat of meteor showers, orbital bombardment, or your character starving to death every morning before shovelling a handful of grapes down their gullet.

Heading into early access, Foundry has room for a ton of stuff to be added (including the aforementioned alien invasions, I fear), but right now it feels complete, relaxing, and challenging because you want to get it right. You could simply chuck everything down wherever and build yourself a messy but largely functional base, but Foundry’s developer, Channel 3 Entertainment, is very clever in this regard.


See, everything takes a little while in Foundry. Crafting means gathering resources, building means laying foundations, expansion means research, research means spending resources – all of this takes time and the initial hour or two is a slog by design. Because what Foundry really wants you to do is think and automate. Like Satisfactory without the stress, the purpose here is to build something so efficient that you barely need to touch it. That’s the challenge and the gameplay loop in their entirety.

You play as a manufacturing robot sent to a randomly seeded world with the purpose of establishing a base of operations. Aided by Carl, an oddly Antipodean robot, and C3-BB, a cute little droid, your goal is to harvest resources and slowly build up a working factory. The tutorial quickly establishes that you’ve lost contact with your overseers, and most of the early game is spent attempting to restore communications.

In the meantime, you’re to continue the mission. This means scanning for ore deposits and using your landers’ simple melting function to craft building supplies. But where most games would have you schlep back and forth with an inventory full of stuff, in Foundry you can build drone stations beside ore deposits and have it harvested for you. Everything you build requires a foundation, which also channels power from your generators through each construct. At first you’re feeding them biomass harvested from the plant life, until you can upgrade to using a rare ore instead.


I’m not one for logistics, usually. I don’t have the patience for it all, but in Foundry something just clicked. Partly, this was due to necessity. In order to research new items and inventions you need Science Packs, and you need a lot of them. Hundreds, in fact. But they take a while to process even when you have an Assembler. Science Packs require resources refined from raw materials, and walking back and forth was ruining my enjoyment.

The answer, of course, was to set up conveyors that carried raw material to a smelter, and then carried the refined item to storage, and from storage into the Assembler, and from there to a second storage facility, before completing the journey to the second Assembler which made the Science Packs. I found myself questioning it all the way, wondering if I was asking too much to be able to make the process so simple. But it worked. I stood back with the pride of a six year old admiring their picture on the fridge door.

And it made me hungry for more. I couldn’t research fast enough, there were so many things I wanted to create and test. You’re given objectives by C3-BB along the way, like building more Smelters or constructing light poles to illuminate the night time, and these are great for giving you direction, but I kept wishing the game would leave me alone to just build.


That being said, it’s not all smooth. This is early access, after all, and there are things that need tightening up. The interface is fiddly, as I often felt I was just too close to the action to see what I was trying to do. I had to actively climb in things to look down. There’s a jump pack in the research list but I haven’t got there yet and don’t know if it lets you hover or just move faster. But while stuff is being added in early access, Foundry needs something like that, in my opinion. Placing items incorrectly is easily rectified with a demolish button that returns the item to your inventory, but the fact it happens so often is frustrating in itself.

Beyond that, my only real complaint is that everything outside the core loop is barebones. There’s little story, no real universe-building, and no sense of urgency or failure. But Channel 3 have something special on their hands here, especially with the inclusion of a multiplayer mode that allows players to work together to create the ultimate self-sufficient factory. Foundry in early access feels somewhat similar to Lightyear Frontier, but is arguably more engaging, and certainly mechanically broader. And as more and more items are added and refined through early access, it’ll only get better from here.

Foundry is developed by Channel 3 Entertainment and published by Paradox Interactive. It’s available via Steam Early Access from May 2nd.