Science-fiction FPS is a subgenre that was once densely populated with titles like Deus Ex and System Shock, was codified with the Half-Life series, and extended all the way into the eighth generation with Titanfall 2 and The Outer Worlds. The point I’m trying to make with that shortlist is that this type of video game tends to become either a generation-defining hit or a beloved cult favorite. Industria clearly comes from fans of these titles, but the demo for it feels like the first draft of a first attempt at making one.
While the technical and graphical flaws of this demo can mostly be excused because it’s a small slice of an unfinished project, the vital problem I walked away with from this twenty-minute vignette was that it didn’t sell me. This genre is famous for its introductions and hooks.
Singularity begins with you helicoptering onto a mysterious Russian island covered in hastily abandoned ruins and ending up the only one of your team to survive. Bioshock opens with your plane crashing into the ocean and you swimming to a weird lighthouse in the middle of nowhere only to find an underwater society in decay. Fallout: New Vegas opens with your character being shot in the head and left to die.
As it currently exists, Industria begins with you on the day the Berlin Wall fell, walking down a hallway of empty offices in search of a colleague. You then discover that he left using some machine. Afterward, you turn on the machine yourself. The details of this are extremely vague, to the point that you would have no idea what the game was even about if you didn’t read the Steam store page.
The gameplay part of this demo is a concise piece of one of the later levels, taking the player through a fight scene in an abandoned city block. With this being a demo, I don’t want to deeply dig into facets like the unfinished-looking UI or the enemy intelligence being sketchy, but the shooting felt imprecise. Furthermore, I felt unequipped to handle the enemies placed far away from me that ended up taking out large chunks of my health bar. I was actually surprised with how quickly the level was over at the end of the skirmish, but I will give the developer props for the aesthetic of the alternate-universe city.
Industria might certainly turn out to be a lot better and more interesting than what was shown off in this brief demo, but I can’t help but question whether putting this together was a good idea. It doesn’t feel like a project that specific effort was put into, but rather one that required the team to hastily compile it to be promoted for an event. The result of those efforts is an unsatisfying blink-and-you’ll-miss-it experience that doesn’t do anything to sell the game it’s cut from. This is an alpha build that an industry knowledge professional can look at and understand but that the average player would likely end up walking away from and forgetting entirely.
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