by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
When the lead developer and CEO of a game development studio lists Industry Giant and Transport Tycoon Deluxe (TTD) as some of his favourite games, it’s no surprise that the studio’s first game resembles those classics.
Dapper Penguin Studios Alessandro Mochi demoed Rise of Industry to an increasingly captivated audience. I had been moderately interested in the game prior to seeing it at Gamescom, mostly due to having lost faith in the genre. But hope and interest sparked as the meeting progressed – this is one special game.
Alessandro listed Factorio and Anno as sources of inspiration as well but the link with those games is much smaller for me. Rise of Industry borrows heavily from those games, and Transport Tycoon in particular. One area where this is evident is the game map. While expected to be four times the size of the largest maps in TTD, the geographical layout of it looks very similar. And while the colour palette is toned down, comparatively speaking, one could easily mistake the roads and buildings on a zoomed out map for those found in TTD. And that is perfectly ok - it’s a great setup for map spanning industrial empires.
Supply, or we’ll find our own
An eye catching feature of Rise of Industry is how its towns behave. Like TTD, towns will grow and flourish with attention from the player and his AI competition, but there is a bit more to it than that. Towns sort of have a personality that is linked to their surroundings. A town in the middle of the woods, for example, will grow and attract companies that suit the surroundings, such as logging and furniture companies. It will develop additional needs over time and if no one supplies it with those it will get in touch with its neighbouring towns to see if they can acquire things there. The player, of course, can speed things up.
The needs within a town are represented by shops, a mechanism that Rise of Industry borrows from Industry Giant. Small towns may simply want food and clothes, larger ones may ask furniture or even cars. If the town has no furniture shop, there’s no sense delivering them to it. Unlike TTD, just dumping “goods” into a town won’t cut it – there are hundreds of products and semi-finished products that need to be trucked around and you’re in control of what products are made and how they are used.
This can get pretty damn complex. Say, you want to supply a town with burger meat. You’ll need to supply the slaughterhouse with cattle from the farm, and the farm needs to source grain and water from the desalination plant. That’s a simple one, but Alessandro also gave the example of building cars that may consist of a dozen parts, each of which consists of a handful of parts themselves and so on. The details are still being worked out, but it would not surprise me if building a car requires piecing together 100 parts along its production process. To be able to do that, you’ll have to set up all these individual paths and try and make some money on them while you’re working towards your end goal.
Fortunately, you get to build your own factories, though you can’t just plop them in the nearest open space. It takes time to acquire semi-products over long distances, for instance. Furthermore, heavy industries mean pollution and more waste to dispose of. Placing these close to towns will hurt your reputation.
There is a lot more to get excited about and I’ll feature-bomb you a bit here. Marketing campaigns will be a little more expansive than in TTD and involve PR companies. You can play co-op and skirmish and dabble with buildings, industries and vehicles that you create yourself as the game is fully mod-friendly. When a train crashes, your cargo is lost and because it really was your cargo and not from some anonymous factory, the financial impact can be tremendous (imagine losing those cars!). And that is just the tip of the feature iceberg.
It is not often that we walk out of a Gamescom meeting saying “Wow!”, but we did with Rise of Industry. We saw amazing depth and equally amazing performance and some really clever and fun ideas. If you want to be wowed yourself, Rise of Industry will follow the Early Access track in Q1 of 2018.