Rise of Industry is a management game that is interesting in principle because it has a tech tree, a neat low-poly graphics style, and the potential for complex strategies to keep your industry from falling beneath the AI titans. I found that Rise of Industry’s launch out of Early Access might have been jumping the gun, but in no way does this take away from my general enjoyment of it.
Like with most games, I tend to start with the tutorial, especially since this particular title has an emphasis on micromanaging your city to buy and sell goods to make a profit. Thusly, the tutorial seemed like a good idea at the time, but I found that going through it was actually somewhat frustrating. It’s going to seem backward when I say that the tutorial felt too long. Maybe too long isn’t what I mean here. Perhaps what irked me about the tutorial was that it didn’t go into details about certain things and included other things that I didn’t find necessary. What I mean is, the game doesn’t explicitly tell players about the massive cost difference between trucks delivering goods versus trains or blimps. And when players are engaged in the campaign, there are a lot of things that players need to discover on their own, which is all well and good but I never progressed far enough to see some of these features. In fact, I went bankrupt several times, even though I was keeping up with sales to the various shops and not selling to the state.
Also with the tutorial, there were some explanations that were lacking. In a campaign, the assistant would guide players into upgrading, which was often too quick. At one point, I was made aware of the fact that the headquarters building could be upgraded, but to what end? What is also not really explained much is the concept that each upgrade is going to cost a ton of money and a ton of time. While this is not a surprising feature, it is frustrating to know that players have to spend a crap ton of waiting time to be able to save themselves from bankruptcy – even on an easy 35% map! Needless to say, I had a rough time playing Rise of Industry.
That said, let’s talk about the game itself. Rise of Industry has a couple of features that I do really enjoy, even if they were also features that bothered me. First up is the tech tree. Now, some management style games have a tech tree style of progression, but their time frame is not infuriating like I find this one to be. Tier 1 requires only 60 days. Tier 2 takes 120 days. Tier 3 is 540 days to research new technology. Keep in mind that the number of days listed is per research item. Minus the first three choices which are freebies (hallelujah), if you want all of the produce unlocked at tier 1, it would take more than 400 days of time! Yikes! Now, don’t get me wrong, time does need to pass for things to be researched, but the time it takes to complete a couple of research tiers gets to be so long that just thinking about it makes me feel like *I* will be bankrupt before progress can be made. Even with the ability to increase the game speed, the time length still seems bonkers. However, the idea behind unlocking certain features has its appeal. Especially considering that to win the game, players have to build one of the two major items (the computer or a car). This is the ultimate goal of the game.
Another feature that I enjoy is that players get the opportunity to sell products for profit. Players can view the different city’s supply and demanded goods. As such, they can then tailor their industry to produce the most profitable items. This allows for playing freedom where players in one playthrough can specialize in toy creation, while in another, they can focus on making the coveted cars or computers. And, not only is there potential to make money in another industry than your competitors, it means that players can challenge themselves by producing different types of products. Though, it should also be said that I don’t recommend selling to the state, because it buys products at wholesale cost – meaning that you don’t make a profit. So, only sell to the state if you have taken on a mission to do so, otherwise, there is no point. And don’t go producing an asstonne of product you can’t sell well or can’t use to make a higher value items. Though, all told, I do enjoy being able to change which products I will sell to the various stores.
I also like the fact that players can bid on auctions to get contracts. This feature allows players to feel like this world is realistic. In one playthrough, I was sending a neighboring town a large amount of food because they had a massive shortage. While the map didn’t reflect any kind of flooding or infestation, the fact that this is included in the game made it feel a little more realistic. Make no mistake though, I did have a playthrough where some of my crops were plagued by bugs and I have no idea how I should have eliminated the problem. (This was also in the playthrough that I went bankrupt. I wasn’t streaming at the time it happened but I did stream stream that particular city and it was well on its way to failing before the end of stream.)
This is what leads to my issues with the game. The fact that while I found the tutorial to be too long (because it went into detail about things I didn’t need to know), it didn’t cover the most relevant basic points like:
- How does one upgrade the HQ building and what purpose does that serve? It’s not explained from what I can recall. Furthermore the assistant tells players that they should upgrade the HQ, but I never achieved that before failing (I should mention that I attempted not to become bankrupt multiple times. I’ve no idea what I’m doing wrong actually…)
- Is it worth buying shares in a neighboring city? I mean, it is a neat feature and all, but you need a fair amount of coin to buy them out. Even then, they don’t seem threatening at all – especially when you specialize in production of items they don’t sell.
- How much does each transport vehicle cost? It makes sense that transport trucks cost less than trains but it takes far longer to make a profit this way.
After playing through the campaign on the easiest difficulty I could manage, I failed most of them because, even though I could track my profits and losses, some of the information isn’t clear. The only other issue I had with the game was in the campaign, players can only seem to place their HQ in one region of the map. I don’t know if this was an error on my part but, I did receive notifications that an HQ has to be placed in a region with four shops.
Furthermore, I was never able to get a permit to build in another region. Again this might have been my own failing but, there was never a point where I was able to harvest oil or anything in another region. Did I fail the RNGeesus lottery? I don’t know, but being restricted in this way bugged the crap out of me.
The last major point I want to touch on with respect to my issues with Rise of Industry is the space it takes. Upon starting a new campaign map, when players are able to customize their difficulty level, there is an option to increase the map size. For a medium sized map, it tells you that it takes 15GB of RAM. Hawt damn! In all of the management games I have played, none of the maps have ever taken up that much space. I don’t even want to fathom what a large map would take.
Now, I know I’ve done a bit of dumping on Rise of Industry, but it’s because I care about the direction of this game. It has a great foundation with some strange irritations that aren’t present in other management games. I’ve spent more than 40 hours in Rise of Industry trying to figure out how to make my industry sustainable. I’ve also looked at the charts and restarted the game several times just to improve and I’m still not able to keep my industry alive. In fact, I even stopped playing my 2130 playthrough because I felt like I didn’t know enough about the game. And the reality is, I do really like the concept of Rise of Industry. Despite all the questions I have and my frustrations due to lack of progression, I can see this game doing extremely well. I wouldn’t say it’s quite there yet, but I have high hopes.
Before talking about the graphics and UI, I did receive a game code for both the base game and the newly launched DLC titled 2130. It is considerably harder given that 2130 has a completely different style than the base game. It is set in the future where pollution has overtaken the area. Humans have destroyed their planet from pollution. (A point that is highly relevant in today’s society.) In 2130, players research different algae types and sell those in place of normal food types like vegetables or wheat. In order to harvest the algae, air purifiers have to be placed first. That said, not all buildings operate with no pollution. Some of them require there to be air pollution to filter out the necessary nutrients for other uses. Most notably, players will need some of these strains to create medication for the citizens.
In other words, while the principle of Rise of Industry remains the same, the concept of the 2130 maps is completely different in how your industry can survive. Instead of growing foods and raising cattle, 2130 has a potentially futuristic bend, using our knowledge of geneticly modified foods. Algae is used to make medicine in 2130 and to profit in this DLC, players have to harvest ruins and make other items.
Not only does this make Rise of Industry feel different, releasing the 2130 DLC puts a whole new spin on the game. And unlike other city management games, 2130 has put players in a futuristic new world that is less familiar to them. Honestly, I’ve spent a ton of time playing this game. Perhaps one day I will get gud.
Graphics and UI
At beginning of this review, I mentioned that Rise of Industry has a low poly style of graphics, and that isn’t wrong. Looking at the trailer will showcase exactly what I mean. The game is as realistic to management games like minecraft is realistic to other open world builder games. All of the necessary components are there, like graphs, buying and selling goods, traffic management, etc… but the graphics are different from other games in its genre. Although, it still confuses me as to why larger maps require more computer resources than triple A titles. One would think that the graphics style would be less hampering to a computer than others, but I digress…
As for the UI, it takes some getting used to. Some of it is explained through the tutorial of the game, though there is a ton of information in menus which can be found by players easily enough. The top bar has buttons for the tech tree, useful overlays, graphs, and information about the competing companies. On the bottom of the screen are all the buildings that players can use to expand their industrial empire. Each of these are shown under appropriate categories like gatherers and farms.
In the bottom left is a bar that shows a bunch of monetary figures. At first, this bar was confusing. Once you click on it, then you see that on the left side it shows the previous months expenses. This shows the totals for transportation, upkeep of buildings, and profit generated. The right hand figure shows how you are doing for that month, which I found oddly deceptive. The total money you have is listed in the middle and occasionally that figure would drop. That is true even while I was generating profit according to the current monthly figures. I’m not sure why it is displayed this way because it just didn’t quite work well for me (despite having dealt with basic accounting in real life).
My issue with the UI is something extremely insignificant. If players are using the assistant, there are times where you can open up a drop down and the assistant will always be in the way. Unlike other games which would shunt a screen over so that everything could be properly displayed, this game keeps the box where it is. I spent a lot of time moving the assistant around just so I could look at the information I wanted. Also, in the top right corner where players can look at how the other corporations are doing, if players are working on a contract, that bar will be covering part of the corporation box. Again, this isn’t a big deal, but it bugged me enough to notice.