I grew up loving the science fiction shooter genre, with games such as Half-Life and Bioshock and movies like Terminator and Total Recall. There’s been quite a lack of them in recent times, so when INDUSTRIA surfaced, I was more than excited to relive the joy of my childhood.
INDUSTRIA, by Bleakmill, is a Half-Life 2 inspired first-person shooter set in an alternate reality, East Berlin, sometime before the end of the Cold War. You play as a woman named Nora, employed under a project known as ATLAS, searching for her missing colleague. Early on, you discover that your colleague has opened a temporal anomaly to a different dimension, and you, haphazardly, follow in his footsteps.
Upon entering, you teleport to a post-apocalyptic parallel version of your world where ATLAS, which is an AI hivemind, has taken over. The streets are littered with automata, and there is no human in sight. Ultimately, INDUSTRIA is a narrative-driven first-person shooter with light puzzles sprinkled throughout. The narrative, for the most part, is a disappointment given the abrupt ending of the game. Large snippets of it are left ambiguous and confusing and up to the player to interpret.
“From the humming engines of the automata to the abandoned brick buildings, the art direction is just impeccable.”
Upon booting up INDUSTRIA for the first time, you are treated to beautifully crafted visuals. From the humming engines of the automata to the abandoned brick buildings, the art direction is just impeccable. INDUSTRIA also implements excellent sound design. Moments of the game feel like a survival horror experience, especially early on when your only tool is a flashlight.
There’s a stigma nowadays that video games are expected to contain enough content to justify their price point. While I don’t agree with the expectation, I do believe that a game should make up for its short playtime with other content. After all, it should be quality over quantity. Unfortunately, INDUSTRIA fails to achieve both. The game can be completed in under two hours and comes at a cost of twenty dollars. Not only is the game extremely short for what it’s worth, but it’s also riddled with game-breaking bugs, crashes, stutters, frame drops, and an array of questionable design choices.
“It takes a special type of game to have more crashes occur than total gameplay hours”
The performance of the game takes a huge dip as the frame rate drops constantly. Additionally, the game freezes at random times, which usually warrants a crash incoming. Ray tracing works horribly, even on high-end graphics cards. Furthermore, collision detection and hitbox functionality also feel clunky, and I frequently clipped through a building or door. Perhaps, the game is so futuristic that humans have attained paranormal abilities.
It takes a special type of game to have more crashes occur than total gameplay hours. Upon loading multiple save files, I teleported to a mysterious location under the map where I was stuck and unmovable. After some trial and error, I figured out that switching weapons transported me back above the ground. Just when I thought I could proceed with INDUSTRIA, it chose to crash on me. Rebooting the game and trying again resulted in the same loop of shenanigans and hard crashes. Simply put, the game is unplayable. It feels more like an early alpha title than one ready for release.
“Unlike other games that make use of the inventory system, INDUSTRIA seems to have it for the sake of it.”
Then comes the questionable design choices. Like most other games, INDUSTRIA has an inventory system. But unlike most other games that make use of the inventory system, INDUSTRIA seems to have it for the sake of it. You can only use it once or twice in the game, and it’s not even a good experience.
The flashlight requires batteries to operate, much akin to a horror game, but INDUSTRIA showers you in battery packs. The purpose of the battery mechanic is to limit the use of the flashlight. However, the mechanic is useless if you find a battery in every corner you take.
There was a moment in the game where I had to pick up a wheel by pressing E. Except pressing E did absolutely nothing. At first, I thought it was a bug, but then I thought maybe it was because my inventory was full. So, I opened up the inventory to attempt to drop some unused items by pressing X. Unsurprisingly, pressing X did absolutely nothing as well. It turns out the only way to drop items is if you press E, the prompt to use the item, which doesn’t actually use the item, but just ejects it from your body. Why even have a drop and use prompt if it’s not what it actually does?
“I opened each and every locker, all twenty of them, to find absolutely nothing.”
INDUSTRIA features two difficulty modes, normal and hardcore, with hardcore featuring fewer resources, increased enemy damage, and manual saves only. I would advise against playing hardcore at the moment, considering the number of crashes that can occur.
There are only five types of enemies in the game. This ranges from melee brawlers, kamikaze bots, terminator gunslingers, and robot dogs. The concept of “bosses” in INDUSTRIA doesn’t exist, and most enemies serve little to no threat to you once you have your entire arsenal of weapons. All in all, there is no sense of progression, let alone tension, as the game literally hands you every weapon not long after you start your journey.
“INDUSTRIA is a game that looks visually stunning and full of mystery if you only look at pictures and screenshots.
The one mechanic that you will unavoidably notice is the ability to pick up random objects in the game. Aside from specifically labelled crates containing ammo and health potions, everything else you can pick up in the game is useless. Some portions in the game require you to make a platform with scattered boxes around the area, but the physics are beyond janky.
INDUSTRIA tries to encourage exploration by placing some out-of-the-way rooms for you to check out. Most of the time, these rooms contain nothing. I thought I might score some goodies when I saw a row of lockers in a room. I opened each and every locker, all twenty of them, to find absolutely nothing.
INDUSTRIA is a game that looks visually stunning and full of mystery if you only look at pictures and screenshots. The art direction and sound design are undeniably unique and beautiful, but those are probably the only positive aspects of the game. When played, the game contains a blasphemous amount of bugs, a mediocre story, unpolished combat, and a hefty price tag. You can only justify the twenty-dollar cost if you want to support the developers or play-test the game for bugs. INDUSTRIA is a half baked game that drew so much inspiration from Half-Life that it ended with no life.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.