Rise of Industry preview (PC)

Rise of Industry is the upcoming tycoon game from Kasedo Games, the indie sublabel for Kalypso. Already available in early access and scheduled for a full launch later this year, we decided to preview this promising title.

What we know

Clearly inspired by classics of the genre like Transport Tycoon and Industry Giant, Rise of Industry puts you in the shoes of an entrepreneur at the start of the 20th century. Starting with nothing but ambition and a sizable bank account, you have a lot of freedom to build and expand your business – and encounter the stumbling blocks that come with it.

The game world is procedurally generated each time you start a new game, and this doesn’t just affect the game’s look but also the availability of resources, distances between towns and other important locations (which translates to challenges in terms of logistics). The game world also changed during the game itself, with competitors popping up, locals making different choices and market conditions changing. In other words, the game constantly keeps you on your toes.

While you could just try your hand as being an entrepreneurial farmer that caters only to a regional community, building a vast empire will also involve factories, managing resources and transport/trade lines and bringing consumer goods to the market. In many cases, you success will depend largely on how the market operates and reacts – to both your own actions and those of others.

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What we saw

We first heard about Rise of Industry back in the summer of last year and met with developer Dapper Penguin Studios soon after during Gamescom. Lead designer Alex Mochi talked us through the basics of the game, and we were given access to the “alpha 2” version of the game soon after.

Earlier this year, the game went into early access on Steam, and we’ve recently been playing that version – which I believe is also “alpha 5” as of February/March 2018. Alpha 6 is on the horizon as well, but we haven’t gone hands on with that version just yet.

What we thought

At first sight, Rise of Industry’s visual perspective immediately evoked memories of Sim City 2000 – a title that’s now almost 25 years old. Time certainly does fly… but in that sense, it’s a perfect match for Kasedo since they also came out with Project Highrise, which was heavily inspired by Sim Tower.

For a more modern equivalent to Rise of Industry, the OpenTTD project is well worth checking out – an open source remake of the classic Transport Tycoon Deluxe. Rise of Industry is quite similar to this in look and feel, but there are two major differences – the game has a wider scope in terms of the different business elements you need to manage, and the graphics in Rise of Industry are far more detailed and vibrant once you start zooming in.

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Gameplay-wise, Rise of Industry feels very familiar yet it can also become overwhelming. Setting up a business feels intuitive to people who’ve played games like Industry Giant or Transport Tycoon before, and even those who come from a city builder background should be comfortable fairly quickly.
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I had my first business up and running in no time, and knew pretty quickly where to go from there. Opportunities arose left and right, choices had to be made, and then the competition and outside influences start showing up. These can come from all directions, but they generally all make sense – which in important in a business sense. I did sometimes get the feeling that the odds were stacked against me and the AI was simply “out to get me”, but surely that’s mainly a balancing issue in a game that’s got a while to go in early access.

The build of the game we played, however, did seem to suffer from something that many city builders fall victim to as well: excessive micromanagement when your business grows beyond a certain scope and beyond the span of control you can (enjoyably) manage. In a real company, that’s the point where you start hiring some managers you trust to do the work for you – but Rise of Industry keeps you in control. Luckily, reading the Steam forums taught me that help is on the horizon – some of this micromanagement should be available in a more automated sense in a future update.

Rise of Industry is already in a very playable state, and the way the game generates its game world and the opportunities within works well – even though the complexity behind this will no doubt grow as new tech tree options give you even more choices to make. The game stays true to what inspired its makers, but it’s ambitious enough to add further layers to it. We’ve seen with Project Highrise that that can result in a fun management experience, so Rise of Industry is definitely one to watch.

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