Management sims are games I like to hate. You face an endless onslaught of extremely demanding clients who want you to deliver your services in a very special way, and they want it now. If you leave them unattended for too long, they make angry faces. Screw it up often enough and they might even dock your pay. None of that happens in Capybara Spa, currently the coolest business sim on Steam. These furry little angels are the most patient and kind customers I have ever served.
Capybara Spa is exactly what it says on the tin. They build hot tubs, orchards, and other amenities on a mountain full of capybaras. They click and drag your guests into capybara-sized tubs, you cater to their whims, and they reward you with coins when they leave. Your questions are not complex. Mostly they just want fresh fruit, flowers or a clean towel. And they will reward you for keeping the mountain clean of debris like rocks and wildflowers. Since many management sims are high-pressure games that force you to work fast, it took me a while to figure out that the game wasn’t meant to be tweaked or sped up.
I built as many tubs as I could afford and then I stacked all my capybaras in. When they asked for food I made sure no one waited more than three seconds. Soon I would be raking in thousands from my capybara spa empire. Whenever I had a spare minute, I was constantly scouring the entire area for new customers. Once I gained enough experience points to be at a certain level, baby capybaras started coming in. These mini guests had to be accompanied by an adult capybara at all times (makes sense I guess?) so I started minimizing my hot tub capacity based on that. No adult was allowed to bathe alone as it was an inefficient use of my limited spa area would be.
The grind never stops at Capybara Spa. Well, until then. One of my editors pinged me about a draft for another blog, so I paused the game to finish this one. When I came back I was shocked to find that the “pause” button actually doesn’t pause anything. Time in my spa simulation passed a few hours without me. More importantly, it wasn’t the end of the world. The capybaras were right where I left them. None of them starved or asked for a refund. Unlike the celebrities I’ve often served in restaurant or hotel sims, capybaras are simple customers. As long as they finally got their strawberries, they were happy. Linear time meant nothing to the humble capybara. I got a little worried when ducks and other non-capybara animals showed up, but the main guests were perfectly happy sharing a bathtub with whoever I placed them with. None of the capybaras had complicated requirements.
I calmed down when I realized that running a spa for capybaras shouldn’t be stressful. After building insect stumps, I recruited insect associates who would help me with clients. I would step away from the game for a few hours, and the butterflies would eventually get to serving each and every customer. I didn’t really have to do anything other than lift capybaras in and out of hot tubs. After a few hours, I even started allowing adults to bathe alone. Sometimes I put a baby in her tub. Sometimes I didn’t. There were no opportunities to earn rewards for exceptional service, so I just focused on filling as many tubs with capybaras as possible. Once they were there, they were there until I decided to go back to their section of the mountain. And it was wonderful. The gameplay loop felt a lot less like the management game diner dash and much more like the cat collecting game Neko Atsume. Capybara Spa represents clients at their best: quiet and accommodating.
Capybara Spa is a game that you can keep running in the background while doing something else. I can’t help but wish that real service jobs were so little at stake.