Preview: Industries of Titan29 Apr 2020 0
The thing that immediately impressed me about Industries of Titan's early access was the sense of atmosphere. From the very beginning you know what this game is about - this isn't an optimistic portrayal of colony life, or a hopeful gaze at the future. This is the soul-crushing realm of corporate dominance, a reality where everything is commodified, and even citizens have to watch ads in their free time to produce income. But as you might expect from Brace Yourself Games, the developer of Crypt of the Necrodancer, it's also quite tongue-in-cheek.
Industries of Titan sees you take the role of a recently hired overseer on Saturn's largest moon, gradually establishing a city by prospecting ruins, gathering resources, and building infrastructure. One of the most unique aspects of Industries as a city builder, is that it features internal building spaces, where you can build storage, power facilities, and housing for your citizens. This aspect has lead to comparisons between Industries and Dungeon Keeper, but I think it's actually more accurate to call the game Surviving Mars's evil twin. And I mean that in the best possible way.
Both Industries and Surviving Mars play in a similar manner: you tailor each playthrough by choosing a start location, and a corporation to play as, then set about establishing the resource infrastructure of a colony. But the difference is, where Surviving Mars is inherently optimistic, with beautiful sunshine and cute robots (even the rocket has a smiley face drawn on it), Industries is undoubtedly grim.
You cannibalize the ruins of long-dead civilisations, exploit citizens for profit, and burn trash. All the while, Titan's grim exterior of ruined skyscrapers surrounds you, as acid rain and smog blanket the landscape. It's hard not to admire how upfront the game is on that point: you're a corporate overlord. It's also impressive that the art style manages to be both beautiful and bleak at the same time, alongside an excellent soundtrack by Danny Baranowsky, who previously composed on Crypt of the Necrodancer.
You'll also have to contend with pirate attacks throughout the game, the difficulty of which escalate as you grow bigger. There are also plans to introduce ship combat, and in the final version you can expect to be facing off against other Titan-based corporations, looking to muscle in on your operation. I think those direct confrontations between factions are something that is often sorely missing from city-builders, and it's what makes Industries of Titan not just a management sim, but also a strategy game.
But Industries definitely still has a way to go. It plays fairly well at the moment, but I think without vehicles or drones for resource collection en masse (like Surviving Mars's RVs and drones), growth is somewhat capped currently, as it takes quite a long while to expand. I also think there will be a challenge in terms of the more advanced buildings making the internal spaces obsolete. At the beginning you use the internal space of 'factories' to build power generators, fuel pumps, and storage, but as time goes on you can unlock buildings which perform these exact same functions without the need for internal spaces.
But I think that hopefully new features and objects will help to separate resource-producing buildings from the internal spaces in terms of their role and function. Either way, building something inside is an incredibly cool idea, and it feels like a little Tetris-esque game within the game, as you slot objects into the grid. The colony aspect is also pretty original, as you use the gradually-accumulating influence currency to purchase ships full of colonists, who can then be used to harvest credits (by watching ads) or converted into workers (who are basically undead drones).
Industries also has one of the best tutorials I've ever seen from an early access game, with some fantastic characters and voice-acting. It's almost a shame that those characters don't appear in the base game, but maybe they will in time. Brace Yourself do have a lot of plans for Industries after all, with all sorts of features on the horizon.
But even at this early access stage, it is obvious that Industries of Titan has the potential to be something incredibly special. Its amazing atmosphere, art-style, music, and its ambitious goal to combine aspects of both management sims and RTS, definitely make it a game to watch. Not only that, but the entire concept of the internal spaces, and the fact you'll be facing off against Titan's other corporations directly, makes Industries feel like it could really shake up the city-building genre.