I'm not a wine person, but I'm always ready to take on a new management game, so the prospect of playing wine-making sim Hundred Days was something I had some mixed feelings about. As with most good management games, though, the thing you're put in charge of managing is less important than how challenge and satisfaction are constructed by the various systems, mechanics, and menus you'll be driving across the experience. Although Hundred Days is a little on the predictable and slow side, I found myself blissing out over long stretches with it.
Hundred Days puts you in charge of your own vineyard, where you can purchase plots of land, choose grape varieties to plant, and employ various techniques to transform your crop into different types of wine. In order to do this successfully, you also need to think about things like storage, logistics, and marketing to sustainably finance and grow your operation.
You can do all this in a sort of sandbox mode, but Hundred Days also offers a surprisingly rich story mode for new players. In addition to helping teach the basics about wine-making in this gamified form, it also puts you in the shoes of a novice wine-maker as they navigate the complicated social web of a small wine-producing community. Over the course of this story, you meet farmers, restaurantuers, and fellow wine-makers as you hone your craft, learn more about this community's history, and even solve a local mystery.
The story in Hundred Days isn't particularly long, and it hardly has anything to do with your actual progress and success at managing your vineyard, but it's a fun romp nonetheless. Once you complete it, you can continue your effort to grow your existing operation endlessly, start a new farm without all of the story bits in the game's Endless Mode, or seek to master specific aspects of the wine business in Challenge Mode.
Regardless of what you choose to do, the knowledge you gain from previous play sessions allows for every new endeavor to progress more quickly and efficiently than the one before. When you first start playing, you might not know that Barbera wines are best with very slight sweetness, low tanins, and a big body with heavy acidity, for example. But, as you play, Hundred Days will help you dial in the "ideal" stats for making this wine, and once you internalize this knowledge, you don't need to experiment with the variety again and can churn out a high quality version of this red in your very first season.
The ability to start each new vineyard with some new level of expertise creates a sense of meta-progression that is very satisfying. It's also nice that the turn-limited Challenge Mode allows you to put the skills and knowledge you've developed to the test. That being said, advancing your knowledge beyond the first few varieties of wine can be cumbersome and take a long time.
As you grow your vineyard, things get more complicated and expensive to keep your operation going successfully, which I imagine is somewhat realistic. But what this also means is you might find yourself spending several seasons doing the same thing over and over just to bank the funds to manage adding a new plot of land or some additional production capabilities to your operation. Due to the laidback nature of the game and its colorful, gentle aesthetic, I found myself being ok enjoying the simple pleasure of maintaining my vineyard in lulls between growing it, but I could imagine less patient players feeling differently.
The bottom line
Although I have limited knowledge when it comes to wine, Hundred Days seems to embody a lot of what connesiuers appreciate about the drink. It's complex, difficult to master, and gets better with age. As you play it, you may encounter some repetition, but that is all part of what is otherwise a lovely and satisfying process.