INDUSTRIA Review – An all-too-brief tale of wasted potential

Gare – Wednesday, October 6, 2021 2:13 PM
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I’m of the belief that a strong beginning is not necessarily a sure-fire recipe for success, and an idea that sounds great on paper doesn’t always translate into a fantastic interactive experience. I say this primarily because I’m here today to talk about a game called Industria – a narrative FPS clearly inspired by the likes of Half-Life, and one that promises an exciting adventure across a wild, robot-infested parallel dimension, but sadly fails to deliver on its otherwise intriguing premise.

A whole new world – kind of

So, about the premise – it’s certainly one that will catch your attention. The plot starts off on the eve of the Berlin wall’s collapse, and follows a scientist called Nora across the deserted, lovingly recreated streets of the late 1980s. The game’s atmosphere is at its peak here, and it really sets up the adventure perfectly: the news on the TV, the lonely apartment, the strange things happening at the lab… but then it’s over and you’re transported into a parallel dimension that somehow ends up being considerably less exciting than 1989, if you can believe that.

The biggest issue of Industria, in my humble opinion, is how incomplete it ends up feeling in almost every single aspect. The world is largely devoid of meaningful exploration, and aside from a few journal entries with mostly unremarkable contents, there’s not much to find even if you do try to stray from the beaten (and fairly linear) path. Your mechanical enemies range from uninspired to comical, with AI that soon turns them into a non-threat; unless, of course, the game decides to artificially inflate the difficulty by throwing dozens of them at you at the same time, which does happen once or twice during the campaign. Mechanically, it’s a fairly cookie-cutter FPS where you get a generic pistol, a generic machine gun, a generic shotgun and a generic sniper rifle; granted, combat feels adequately satisfying, especially with the shotgun and the sniper, but the game doesn’t really do anything to elevate it above the fold. The game’s puzzles are fairly straightforward as well, so much so that I’ve already forgotten the majority of them. In fact, I’ll just put it this way: they’re easy enough where even I could solve them, and I’m the worst puzzle solver you’ll ever find. Trust me.

Lukewarm and undercooked

The narrative is undercooked, as it takes a potentially strong premise and then makes it devolve into largely tepid conversations between an unlikable protagonist and a faceless man on the radio. The game is quite clearly trying to establish some sort of an emotional connection between the two, but every attempt falls flat on its face, partly because the game is only three hours long, and partly because the dialogues themselves aren’t particularly interesting. There are narrative pieces here and there that, in a more competently written game, could be worked into something meaningful; morsels of mystery that, at times, invoke Half-Life, at others, the Terminator franchise. But they never evolve into anything truly spectacular, and any twists the game might’ve had are very clearly telegraphed in the early segments of the adventure. Stumbling into the same trap so many of its peers have also fallen victim to, the already weak and underdeveloped storyline then concludes on an abrupt, seemingly rushed note, where even the in-game protagonist is about as confused and bewildered as most would-be players will be.

In conclusion

You’re probably not going to have an awful time playing through this, but I can’t guarantee you won’t be underwhelmed by most of it. An undercooked game that ends far too early for its narrative to be anything other than forgettable, Industria is inspired by industry classics but sadly fails to find its own voice. With a derivative storyline and a frustratingly abrupt ending, lackluster enemies and AI, and only adequate at best combat, it doesn’t really offer anything that hasn’t been done better elsewhere.

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