Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
November 9, 1989 is known for a world changing event, the fall of the Berlin Wall. But what if history for two people went another route and they weren’t there for it? What if a science experiment went wrong and they would never see this world again? Starting on the evening of November 9, 1989, life would change for Nora as she finds herself in a world not her own looking for her Walter.
Industria by Bleakmill and Headup Games is an adventure based first person “shooter” in a world similar to our own, yet more steampunk looking in its technology. Having seemingly lost control of ATLAS, a networked computer, Walter calls Nora, waking her up from her nap on the couch, and tells her to stay far enough away from their lab for her own safety. Obviously ignoring this warning as Walter is both her work and life partner, she rushes off and the adventure begins.
Finding yourself in this new world through the eyes of Nora, there’s a reason I put shooter in quotations. Do you have access to guns? Yes, a pistol, submachine gun, rifle with a scope and a shotgun. Are they fundamentally important to the overall gameplay? Not really. They’ll surely help along the adventure but your axe will do most of the talking as it can break down boards blocking your way as well as taking out the machines that are after you if you make enough noise.
Industria is really more about the adventure and the light puzzles that stand between Nora and her journey to find Walter in this parallel world. It’s the journey of finding out a little more of what happened here once ATLAS, the same one(?) has apparently taken over. It’s about learning more from seemingly the only other human, a person named Brent, on the other side of a radio as Nora the first human he’s talked to in who knows how long. Finally, it’s a journey of not knowing if it’ll have a happy ending or not as this world is quiet and empty short of the noise that the machines make once they realize there’s a human present.
This was perhaps my biggest draw to Industria, the thickness of the silence and never knowing if you’re alone, or not. Designed in a “classic” sense, the world has detail but feels like an older style experience with the direction of the visuals. This isn’t a bad thing at all as it helps to bring all of the elements together such as the year that Industria is based in as well as the robot models that you’ll see over the course of the journey. From that perspective, it works rather well while trying to find Nora’s way forward through closed gates and blocked off passages.
To open up these passages there are some small events that’ll need to be handled like mixing up a rust remover, finding and throwing matches to light the flame of a furnace and finding wheels to open doors to move forward. Once again throwing the word shooter into quotations, most of these puzzles will be tackled at your own pace short of perhaps one or two. These others will require either a bit of running and gunning or just some creative moving around to not get swarmed and save your ammo for another rainy day. This would be the other element that I truly appreciated with Industria, it doesn’t fall into the trap of padding things out in order to make them last longer. It sets out to do what it’s meant to and then closes the curtain with both questions answered, and questions left unsolved.
Where Nora’s adventure in Industria needed a bit of love and care though is in the control schemes. There are options available like being able to adjust the sensitivity, toggle your iron sights on or off and more such as toggling your crouching. This said, the default control scheme is tough to use and for me required a fair amount of tweaking to get it right. I switched things around like which button to use to run, which was your flashlight and which one was for crouching as for some reason, there’s no option to toggle your run. This could make things awkward when trying to press and hold L3 while reaching for shoulder buttons.
Finally, the only area of Industria that I would perhaps have a complaint in is within the checkpoints and the save points. Playing on normal will grant an autosave that is convenient to have especially if you missed a jump and are presented with the game over screen. There are also “newer” Resident Evil like typewriters kicking around to manually save your game which is the only way if you’re playing on the harder difficulty.
While these above elements work decently enough, the world that is restored is not the one you left, but the world in its default state meaning if you picked things up, you have to do it again. Managed to get one area clear of robots to take care of a switch and then died? You have to do both again. With how short the adventure is, it’s not the end of the world, but, when you don’t know that’s the case? You’re left wondering what you could possibly be missing.
Overall though, Bleakmill and Headup Games’ Industria is a decent adventure through a parallel world to our own. With a bit of discovery to find out what happened and quiet and atmospherically heavy locations to explore, while a short adventure it was one that I looked forward to going through a second time to find certain smaller elements that were missed the first time around while playing on a harder difficulty.Score: 7.75 / 10