Cartel Tycoon – Review
Follow Genre: Management
Developer: Moon Moose
Publisher: tinyBuild
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PC

Cartel Tycoon – Review

Site Score
Good: Pablo Escobar simulator, Grow your empire, Much content, High quality
Bad: Managing everything can get a bit hectic
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(0 votes)
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The life of crime, for some, is a dream, and for others, it is a harsh reality. Let’s be honest, haven’t you ever fantasized about being the next Scarface or Pablo Escobar? Nowadays we have simulators for almost every kind of job or pastime, but what about managing a large drug operation? This is where Cartel Tycoon fits the bill perfectly: you get to work your way up, build your empire farm by farm, and watch as the money slowly comes in. How will you lead your gang? Will you do so with an iron fist and instill fear in the civilians? Or will you operate under the radar so that nobody notices that you are even there?


Most games come with only one story, but in Cartel Tycoon, you get three storylines to play through. Each story is linked to a certain difficulty (easy, normal, hard) and comes with a different backstory. In the tutorial, you get to play as the son of a crime boss, who came back from college to hopefully follow in the shoes of his father. He learns the ropes from his uncle, and slowly gains the respect of their family. Maybe one day your father will trust you enough to fully take over the family business, or maybe you aren’t cut out for this life.

The second story is one that many people can find themselves in. You play a guy who hit rock bottom and is desperately looking for a job. Finally, you find an ad in the newspaper for a good-paying job as a business partner. This business, however, involves starting your own drug empire. The final story of the game continues where the second story left off, and you’ll get an offer to make your hustling and bustling cartel even bigger. Of course, with expanding comes the risk of no longer being able to fly under the radar.

While you have three different stories to enjoy, they aren’t that fleshed out. It seems more like a decent beginning to get you sucked into the story with some minor updates along the way. The progression goes pretty smoothly, the tutorial storyline should take around two to three hours to complete and the other two are estimated around ten hours a piece.


Visually the game looks really good for a large open environment management game. You’ll notice that some animations and visuals are simplified like cars driving around and suddenly disappearing into thin air. This can look a bit wonky at times, but overall the graphics are pretty great. It all starts with a beautiful landscape, and the more you start building and putting your mark on the city, the more the environment will change. Another nice detail is when a place is under attack, or when the police raid a compound, you can see the fighting in the compounds with the necessary bullets, fire and explosions.

Furthermore, the user interface is made really clear so you can easily follow up on all your resources, businesses, problems, and actual prices, so you can adjust your marketing strategy at all times. Everything you need is always in eyesight, so you don’t have to scroll through tens of menus to find what you need.


After seeing the nice graphics, you start to wonder how good the sound quality will be, and don’t worry, it is fantastic. Many conversations are fully voiced between the main characters. In the background, there is a mix between the great vacation tropical music and the many sounds of the city. This makes the world feel alive, especially with the police running around, sirens blaring, and gunshots in an opponent’s drug den. The sound really sets the mood right at every opportunity and makes the gameplay even more pleasant.


Cartel Tycoon is a management game where you take the lead of a drug cartel and you must grow your empire while staying out of trouble. When you start up the game, you are immediately greeted by three different game modes that you can have a go at. First, there is the story mode. In the story mode, you follow the lives of three upcoming criminals and guide them to fame and riches. Next is the sandbox mode. This mode is perfect for those who just want to tinker around with various settings and just enjoy a calm gaming evening. If you are looking for a true challenge, then you can take a swing at survival mode, where the police are coming after you, and your days are numbered.

It is best advised to start with the tutorial found in the story mode. This will teach you all the essentials to run a successful business and it will hold your hand carefully from start to finish. After you complete the tutorial, you can even continue playing and try to take over the whole map. The game will always take place on the same map, but the starting conditions are different. That’s why you’ll sometimes meet other characters or have the same lieutenants in different stories.

Managing your empire can be hard, so you’ll need a strong right hand, or twenty. At first, you are all on your own, but once you made a good enough name for yourself, you can recruit lieutenants that can do the dirty work for you. Most businesses have automated functions but they need to be in close proximity to one another. Keep in mind that you’ll have to connect each one with the main road. Having a good insight on building plans and knowing where to place what is a big bonus trait in this game, but luckily you’ll have plenty of space to build whatever you desire.

You’ll start small and you need to expand your empire. You can start with simple opium plants and research more technologies so you can start making weed, heroin, or even cocaine. When you start producing more and more drugs, you’ll have to keep track of where you can sell which type of drug, and how to transport them. In the world of crime, there are two types of currency: legit money and dirty money. Dirty money must be laundered into legit money and each cash type has its good and bad side. While dirty money needs some time to clean, it pays off in the long run. When you use clean money, you can make payments faster and it often also means you’re paying less. However, sometimes you find it easier to just use the dirty money, as the laundering is really slow.

When you start making a name for yourself, you will need to be in good favor with the many leaders of the island. It is best to talk to the mayor of each city and ask them what is bothering them. Making powerful corrupt friends is essentially when you want to be a large-scale crime boss and this will mean doing some favors and quests from time to time. When you finally win over the mayor, you get the green light to erect public buildings and do some work for the community. Having the respect of the community will have them look away if your operations get a bit too violent. Just make sure to never fill your terror gauge, as the police won’t stop cracking down on operations all over the island when it’s full. Ending up in jail is a quick way to a game-over.

Controlling the game goes really smoothly. You have everything you need at your disposal and the only controls you need to remember are how to navigate around the map and select things. It’s as simple as that. This makes the game accessible for many, as management games tend to get a bit confusing at times.


Cartel Tycoon is one of the more amusing management games we played this year. Thanks to its fun and addictive gameplay, its three storylines, high-quality sounds, enjoyable music, and nice graphics, it is a title that should be in your library. The game has a really well-made tutorial to get you started, and if you wish, you can spend hours upon hours growing your family and completing quests for others. It’s up to you if you wish to be a brutal druglord, or keep things rather tranquil while you watch the dirty money come in.


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Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

1 Comment

  1. | Cartel Tycoon (PS5) – Review
    March 30, 2024, 03:17

    […] owners who had the world’s best interests at heart, or that was at least the initial purpose. Now Cartel Tycoon is a bit different in this regard, making players the cartel’s leader and giving them access […]

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