INDUSTRIA Review – Niche Gamer

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It may not be explicitly marketed as such, but INDUSTRY Looks like a retro-inspired shooter inspired by themes and mechanics from old PC games.

Generally when we think of retro inspired shooting games we tend to think of games like Ionic fury, Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, In the midst of evil, Where Dusk. All of this tries to replicate the look and feel of earthquake, Loss, Wolfenstein, HeXen, or other boomer shooters that dominated the 90s and early 2000s.

INDUSTRY takes a different approach by mimicking the atmosphere and mechanics of another type of shooter that has been largely abandoned in recent years: the narrative linear FPS. Illustrated by the Half-life series, these shooters typically focus a bit more on narrative and lore as you navigate fairly linear levels, with an occasional puzzle or two to break up the pieces of the shot.

It is easy to do Half-life comparisons when describing INDUSTRY; and not just because both games are about a scientist who suddenly finds himself in an unknown world after a techno-magical science goes awry.

INDUSTRY even features physics-based box-stacking puzzles, an archaic concept that seems odd in a 2021 FPS. INDUSTRY has a lot going in its favor, it also has a few issues that hamper the experience.

INDUSTRY
Developer: Bleakmill
Publisher: Headup
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: September 30, 2021
Players: 1
Price: $ 19.99 USD

INDUSTRY

INDUSTRY opens on the evening of November 9, 1989; the day the Berlin Wall was broken and the two Germanies took the first steps towards reunification. You play as Nora, a scientist from East Berlin working on a secret project called ATLAS, which involves advanced AI and alternate dimensions.

As the story unfolds on national television, Nora is awakened by an enigmatic call from her colleague, Walter. The Stasi dismantles the ATLAS facility in a frantic attempt to destroy as many top secret projects and documents as possible, before they fall into the hands of the Western powers.

After a short walk to the ATLAS facility, it quickly becomes apparent that things have gone very badly. The facility is completely abandoned and ATLAS itself is overloaded, the interior of the building shaking and collapsing.

With Walter nowhere to be found, Nora comes to the conclusion that he has managed to slip into another dimension; a feat hitherto limited to objects and small experimental animals, with extremely mixed results. Nora decides to follow Walter, determined to find him on the other side and bring him back.

INDUSTRY

The alternate dimension she finds herself in now is a world where robots aimlessly roam around a version of Berlin that has been abandoned by humanity. With the help of a lone survivor still living in the empty ruins of this once prosperous city, Nora will have to navigate this unknown and hostile world; as she tracks down clues to Walter’s fate and uncovers the mysteries surrounding what caused the robot to rise.

As a slower, more narrative experience, much of your time in INDUSTRY will consist of exploring the streets and empty apartments of the abandoned city. The game’s levels are very linear, with hidden nooks and crannies that contain useful resources, like health vials and ammo.

The mysterious man you meet early on keeps in touch via radio, providing story development and a guide as you travel. As I briefly mentioned earlier, INDUSTRY has some scattered puzzles that must be solved to progress.

These mostly involve finding hidden levers, or stacking boxes and other debris to reach higher areas. Every now and then you will get a more creative puzzle based on rudimentary inventory management.

INDUSTRY

One of those puzzles at the start involves a rusty valve that you can’t turn. Luckily, there is a set of chemicals nearby, as well as a table with a handy recipe for a rust remover. Find cans of the right chemicals to combine with the chemistry set, and your new rust remover can be used on the valve. Other such inventory puzzles involve finding valves or some other key required to open a door.

INDUSTRYThe experience of is mostly about immersing yourself in the game world and unraveling its history. The environment is littered with various hidden journals or notes that help you piece everything together. Even still, there are many elements that are left open to interpretation.

In this regard, piecing together the story the game provides you and speculating to fill in the gaps is one of the INDUSTRYmain highlights of. The game has a pretty interesting story and setting, which is why I’ve tried to keep most of it as vague as possible here.

Of course, exploration is far from the only gameplay focus of INDUSTRY. It’s an FPS after all, so there are a lot of enemies to shoot. There are around six types of enemies throughout the game, and you’ll shoot them with an arsenal of four guns. A pistol, an SMG, a shotgun and a sniper rifle. You also have a pickaxe, although the ammo is plentiful enough that you won’t use it much later in the game.

INDUSTRY

INDUSTRYThe firing mechanisms of s can be described as functional and adequate. The robots are always difficult to balance as satisfying enemies to shoot, and some of the robots from INDUSTRY are definitely more fun to destroy than others. The more humanoid types have base location damage, allowing you to blast limbs. Some of the others somehow fall with janky ragdoll physique when killed.

If you’re looking for a stimulating FPS experience with tons of variety, you really won’t get it here. Anyone, even moderately experienced in shooters, should have no problem completing the game on the default difficulty without dying once.

There’s a more “hardcore” mode where ammo and health vials are rarer, although that doesn’t really make enemies smarter or harder to kill. This mode also removes quick saves, instead forcing you to rely on typewriters to save your progress.

Most bots have AI models that largely consist of a “player load”. Some robots are slow, others fast, and one type self-destructs when they reach you; but in general, they all react in much the same way when they detect you.

There is only one type of ranged enemy in the game, and they are quite rare. They’re also not very good at taking cover, so they’re not particularly difficult to send.

INDUSTRY

Although the variety of enemies and weapons is quite anemic, it should be borne in mind that INDUSTRY can be completed in four hours. My first game was 3.3 hours long, and I got 15 of the game’s 21 achievements.

As a story driven game, there’s no real reason to replay it unless you want to grab back the achievements you missed. Even then, it probably won’t add more than two or three hours to the total playing time.

Game length is one of those things that people can have very different opinions on. In INDUSTRYIn this case, I think the length of the game suits the story and the experience that the developers were trying to tell. For some people, however, I can see that an experience of less than four hours for US $ 20 is a sticking point.

From a performance point of view, INDUSTRY has some problems. Even though I’ll admit I’m on an older machine that’s still running a 1070, the framerate was still pretty inconsistent compared to what you’d expect from an indie game with modest visuals. It was not uncommon for the game to drop below 60 FPS, and people with much beefier platforms have voiced similar complaints.

INDUSTRY

Visual and graphical bugs are also moderately common. In the first outer level, the shadows in the game continued to blink very badly. Shortly after that the game crashed, but upon reloading the shadow flicker resolved.

In another exterior level, all the grass was illuminated as if I were entering a radioactive wasteland. There are also a few locked doors that you can actually go through, giving you a nice view of the below level.

INDUSTRY is certainly a flawed game, but it still manages to be a charming little tribute to Half-life and other script shooters of the time. It has an interesting story and setting that invites you to piece together clues and draw your own conclusions, and the characters are likable and well-interpreted.

The shooting mechanics might not be as polished or satisfying as other FPS games on the market, but they get the job done. If you don’t mind the short duration and minor technical issues, INDUSTRY is quite a pleasant experience that you can complete in one session.

INDUSTRIA was tested on a Windows PC using an exam code provided by Headup. You can find additional information on Niche Gamer’s review / ethics policy here.


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