Manga has a habit of rewriting history, creating alternate universes, but gaming still needs to catch up. With INDUSTRIA, it’s a reimagining of 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell, only what lurks on the other side was something a little unexpected.
Taking some cues from Half-Life, this is another one of those first-person stories that is mostly an FPS, but the focus is primarily the story, with some early puzzles to kickstart it. Like the classic above, and also the more recent Chernobylite, you play a scientist of sorts.
Finding out that their work colleague has disappeared, you return to the offices to investigate, only to recreate the anomaly that made them disappear in the first place. Shifting to an alternate universe, Skynet is real, and the machines have taken over. Fortunately, they’re not that advanced.
INDUSTRIA has a decent concept, and it plays more to the story’s strength than the action. You’ll find a pickaxe early on to take out mechs that cross your path, and to be honest, it’ll be your go-to weapon throughout as ammo is scarce, and the guns – other than the shotgun, aren’t that good anyway.
Like a fish out of water, you’re trying to decipher the events that have seemingly taken place in your… absence? A lone human assists you on your journey, filling you in on what’s been happening and why there aren’t any people stomping around the city. It’s those damn machines, that’s what!
It’s not that INDUSTRIA is ambiguous – a lot of it makes sense, and you can fill in the blanks between with some documents scattered around the city, which also serve as the odd hint. In its conclusion, the game might not refresh parts that other FPS’ reach, but from my perspective (skewed), it’s a decent narrative and its strong point. Though I wish there were a bit more time dedicated to character development.
There’s nothing wrong with the character’s, but this is like a 90-minute movie, whereas watching The Sopranos, you just know Tony. INDUSTRIA is potentially a short game, but that depends on whether you want to look around and the difficulty setting you go with.
By default, it’s Normal and Hardcore mode. Honestly? I went with Normal, and that was just fine. I wasn’t fussed about the difficulty as a bit pushed for time, plus I was intrigued by the story. One thing worth mentioning about the differences was the autosaving.
Autosave is enabled in Normal mode, but it’s unreliable, and large sections of my playthrough were plagued by glitchy save sessions. You can manually save through a dedicated typewriter, but I got so far without saving, and the auto-saving would respawn me in the middle of nowhere, taking damage from… nothing. It’s was pretty annoying if it happened once, but this happened four times, so I encourage manual saving at every opportunity.
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INDUSTRIA isn’t a benchmark for technical feats, but I liked the level design and overall visuals. Playing at top settings for everything, but at 1080p rather than 1440p, the gameplay was mostly smooth, and while there were the odd technical issues, my overall beef was the lack of direction.
While the world is relatively small, it’s not always clear where you need to go, and there’s no menu system other than a journal for pointers. Your helper will tell you to cut through a building, but there are no hints or radar indicators on which direction to take, nor is there a map. This is far from game-breaking, but it would have been nice to have some pointers instead of wandering.
The voice talent in the game is another highlight. Set in Germany, all signs in the game are German, but if you hover over a word, there’s a translation. I would have preferred to have played in German with English subtitles, but that proved problematic in Chernobylite as I was missing critical dialogue through the action. While INDUSTRIA is less eventful but not a bad thing, hearing the character’s inner monologues and conversations were excellent.
The Brass Is Shinier On The Other Side
There’s nowhere on the promo material that says ‘epic story jam-packed with setpieces’, so INDUSTRIA doesn’t underdeliver. Though I was keen to play the game, there were no expectations, which usually is a good thing as it’s 50/50. On that note, it’s a game worth playing as my experience, despite the occasional misdirection and autosaves, was a good one.
It doesn’t have the same depth as Chernobylite, but that’s unfair as they’re different games and only share a handful of similarities. From what I understand, the team at Bleakmill consists of half a dozen people that made it in their free time. I don’t subscribe to ‘everyone’s a winner’ mentality, and I’m not going to praise the game purely on those facts, regardless of how admirable they are.
Instead, I’m going to say that INDUSTRIA is a decent indie game on its own merits. It has just the right levels of depth when it comes to storytelling, nice visuals, an excellent cast and a duration that’s not going to have you get in trouble with your better half, forgetting to feed the fish, or even having a wash. That said, I got stuck powering the lift for a stupid amount of time, so that sums up how much time I need. [Insert brain, and quip, here].
Check it out on Steam and have a look at the other reviews before making a hasty decision. It’s a thumbs up from me.