Spinnortality PC review | An inventive, witty cyberpunk sim

Spinnortality is an eerily effective cyberpunk management sim that doubles as a scathing satire of capitalism. Our review…


As what is often jokingly referred to as ‘the darkest timeline’ of current events spreads into 2019, the original tenets of cyberpunk continue to look less like a paranoiac’s fever dream, and more like accurate predictions for the future. So it’s no surprise to welcome something like Spinnortality to the world. We are, chronologically speaking, sixteen years away from William Gibson’s Neuromancer. We have entered the year Blade Runner was set. I flew back from L.A. last week, and though I was thankfully spared a Voight-Kampff test at airport security, the sense of each one of my hurried cigarettes mingling with a noirish fog of international instability and uncertainty was eerily tangible.

As CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 looms, we’re also faced with the ironic facade of a product marketed on an aesthetic critique of the very systems necessary for its existence, and one that it subtly attests to the legitimacy of. A multimillion dollar blockbuster requiring 3TG conflict minerals both to produce and run, the profits from which will enrich the company’s shareholders. Like all entertainment products of its size, for some it will be an outlet, an expression, a work of art.

For most of us though, it’s just another opiate. Something to distract us while social media companies undermine democracy, wealth inequality grows, and human rights become trite afterthoughts in the steady pursuit of profit. Gnarly augmentations aside, cyberpunk is starting to look as tame in comparison to reality as Good Charlotte do to GG Allin.

Cyberpunk management sim, Spinnortality, is a one-man, crowdfunded project. So if nothing else, it’s got that ‘punk’ suffix down pat. It’s how this novel and well-written, but ultimately sedate and simple strategy expresses that ‘Cyber’, however, that produces both its most interesting moments and biggest flaws.

“All we ask is that you make us immortal,” request a boardroom of shadowy figures in Spinnortality’s introduction. Actually, the first thing they say is, “Welcome to the boardroom, Godzilla,” because I have a thing about naming myself Godzilla in business simulation games. These five clandestine titans of industry, like all obscenely wealthy sociopaths, are having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that they’re not actually gods. My task, as head of Wireframe.Inc, is to fix this slight genetic hiccup for them.

Time in Spinnortality is divided into turns, each of which represent six months. Each turn, you’ll hire staff, launch products, manipulate global politics, make decisions based on random events, and work your way towards researching immortality. It’s a lofty goal, but one that you end up achieving rather quickly, which then leads you to a choice of four victory conditions: Imperial, Consumerism, New World and Humane, all of which revolve around what sort of governments control the globe, how much these governments like you, and what their attitude toward taxation is.

So, you launch products by researching and predicting trends, make as much money as possible, and use that money to influence nations to your own, likely nefarious, ends. At the same time, you’ll have to deal with global events, inefficiency and corruption within your own company, and the ever-present whims of the boardroom. In terms of play, this generally comes down to balancing numbers, planning ahead, and making sure to diligently and repeatedly research, launch and relaunch products.

Product hawking is later replaced by a wider and more complex long game of buying shares and bribing governments to get certain laws passed, and this is all bolstered by an additional layer of resource acquisition and risk/reward options for corporate subterfuge. Spinnortality is both pleasingly complex and elegant in its implementation of these many interplaying systems, and learning how to balance your economic and political goals is rewarding. Once it shows its hand, however, a honking great, neon-glowing issue starts to surface. Namely, that the actual process of progressing through the game just isn’t as compelling as it needs to be to play in anything longer than short bursts without feeling a bit burnt out with it all.

Having to constantly launch and relaunch new products, for example, starts to grate after the initial novelty of reading the flavour text. Researching always leads you to fully comprehensive information on the most profitable options, so it seems like an ‘auto-launch’ option would have worked just as well here. As interesting as the game’s writing is, I often found it difficult to find the motivation to go through the motions of progress once I’d worked out what I needed to do.

When Spinnortality is at its best though, it uses these simple systems to make witty, scathing critiques of late-stage capitalism’s farcical excesses. It manages to turn the phrase ‘systemic critique’ into a design philosophy as well a political one. Simply put, the game becomes much tougher if you decide at any point you’d rather leave the world better than you found it.

Each turn, a new event pops up, and sometimes, you’re given a choice that feels like no choice at all. You might destabilise a country in order to build up a more politically advantageous regime in its ashes. Months later, you’ll receive an email from a woman who broke her nose in the ensuing riots. Do you apologise, or deny responsibility? Both will affect the public’s opinion of you, which in turn will piss off the boardroom and edge you that little bit closer to losing that game, but looking the other way penalises you slightly less.

Numerically, it’s a simple choice. Do the right thing, and you’ll have to make sacrifices. Ultimately, this scarily on-point simulation makes its points well, but sometimes embodies the circular drudgery of the mindset it parodies too closely to be as fun to play as it is interesting to engage with.


After relaxing genetic laws in America, my friend Zhi emails me. We’ve hung out at my apartment. They’ve opened up to me. We’ve sung Disney karaoke. This time, Zhi’s tone is frantic. Their skin is greying from gene therapy. Spinnortality is great at showing you the human consequences of your business decisions.


Inventive, witty, intricate and initially engaging, but struggled to keep me invested past the mid-game. Spinnortality gets a recommendation because I appreciate it just that bit more than I enjoyed playing it.


Genre: Strategy and Simulation
Format: PC (tested)
Developer: James Patton
Publisher: James Patton
Price: £9.99
Release: Out now

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