Pub Life takes the café game formula and turns it into a game about running your very own English pub
Variations on the basic café game formula have been big on Facebook for a while now, but this is one of the first we’ve seen that has you running a comical English pub. In Pub Life you can name your pub and then stock it with whatever combination of beers, teas, and snacks that you want to serve. Customers begin to arrive once you open your doors and will continue to stream in for 11-minutes. Customers who get a drink or snack and a seat to relax in give you pub points (experience), money, and boost your pub’s reputation. If a customer leaves without being able to get served or find a seat, you lose reputation.
The goal of Pub Life is to boost your pub’s reputation while leveling up and making money that you can then reinvest in decorations and luxuries for your pub. The key to this is managing when you open and close your pub. If your pub is well-stocked, then you should be able to run through several 11-minute nights without running low on goods to sell. If you do start running out of goods, then you need to start rushing in products that will stock before your time runs out. This juggling act is enjoyable when you have to play it, while otherwise the game lets you have the satisfaction of carefully planning what you’ll sell.
There are a lot of optional game mechanics in Pub Life, though you can stick to simply selling stuff to customers if you like. You can purchase pub games to occupy customers and try to gather parts for karaoke and espresso machines from friends (or spend real money to get them). You can opt out of starting the karaoke or espresso machine quests entirely if you don’t want the machines sitting around your pub, which is a nice touch. Game mechanics that let you decorate the outside of your pub open up at level seven.
Pub Life doesn’t levy much of a “no friends” tax on solo players who don’t bring friends into the game, though there are parts of the game where friends make succeeding much easier. As your pub grows more popular, you eventually won’t be able to serve customers fast enough and will need to hire an employee. You can select employees from a list that includes two NPCs and then whatever friends play the game. Obviously, if you need more than two employees, a player with no friends may reach a plateau where further progress in the game is difficult.
Pub Life is overall a very solid entry in the café game genre, with a strong sense of humor and a motif that makes the familiar old gameplay patterns feel a bit fresh. More café games could benefit from letting you close your business and putting actual thought into why you might want to do this. Beyond the pub theme, though, Pub Life is a fairly average game that may not offer much to a player who’s already burnt out on something like Café World. The best fit for Pub Life may be a player who hasn’t yet committed a lot of time or energy to other café games.