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About two minutes in puzzle game Wilmot’s warehouse, I had an "Oh no!" -Moment. It was the kind of moment that comes from playing many Sid Meier games such as Civilization or SimGolf where you blink and a whole day has passed. It's the kind of moment when, even if you recognize the feeling, you still say to yourself, "Okay, just one more turn."
In the game you control Wilmot, a square person in charge of a warehouse full of squares of similar size with images on it that abstractly represent what they contain. One may have a bird's head, while the other may have an alternating set of red and white diagonal lines. As Wilmot, it's up to you to run the warehouse by organizing it the way you want and removing items when requested.
This of course divides the game into two separate phases, which manage to test your puzzle-solving skills in different ways. The organization phase tests how good you are at sorting everything in the warehouse while planning ahead. During the collection you have to remember where you put things and you also learn whether you have made your warehouse navigable.
In each collection phase there are four people at a service window who ask for different things that are stored in the warehouse. One could ask for two blocks that look like the head of a fountain pen and three camping tents, while another wants a cartoon duck head. The faster you collect them and meet the requests, the more stars you get. These stars can then be used later to upgrade your warehouse or to give Wilmot new skills. Ultimately it can transport more boxes or travel short distances. But when you "pick up" a block, it simply attaches itself to Wilmot or to a block that is attached to Wilmot. So as you begin to collect more things from the warehouse, Wilmot starts looking like they're attached to a tetromino from a knock-off Tetris game. If you have planned well, this will make it difficult to navigate through the warehouse.
That is why you spend the majority of your time organizing the warehouse. At the start of every day you have an unlimited amount of time to arrange the boxes the way you want. In the beginning this is fairly simple, because there are maybe 20 or 30 kinds of things that you have to keep up with. But as you complete each set of rounds, up to four new item types are added to your warehouse's inventory.
Eventually you will have to stop remembering where each individual type is and instead start grouping the same things and remembering where that group is. So you may not remember where the fountain pens are exactly, but you do remember that you have grouped all the stationary boxes in the lower left corner of the magazine. That is, until you have almost no space left to fit in everything you have, that is when you are forced to re-edit your entire organization plan.
The sparkle of the Wilmot’s warehouse is that you will never have a perfect solution. It is always shifting. It is fairly easy to grow the game after a few rounds of collection and organization so that you feel that you have solved it or at least close to resolving it. But as more items and new varieties come in, you begin to find inefficiencies in your organization chart – whether that's where or how you group them, make it difficult to navigate, or because you can't easily remember where something is. Even worse, these are all problems that you have created yourself.
But even if you have a good system, you still spend more time in the back half of the game to make sure everything is well organized. It is surprisingly exciting to see all your preparations bear fruit if you manage to get through a day without problems, know exactly where things are and get them out of the stacks in just the right configuration to make it easy through the warehouse to navigate.
The game ends when you get 200 different items, after which Wilmot is fired and replaced by a fully automated robot system. It feels a bit abrupt, but you can always start a new game to continue or even jump to an expert mode that allows you to change some rules for extra difficulty. Even with your second playthrough you still have that "Oh no!" – Moments.
Wilmot’s warehouse was made by Ricky Haggett and Richard Hogg. You can get it for $ 14.99 on it Steam, Itch.io (Windows and macOS) and the Nintendo Switch. It takes approximately seven hours to complete.