Industries of Titan is a Welcome Escape to Dystopia

Industries of Titan Early Access Preview

A lot of people are turning to video games while they are stuck at home. And why not? There’s nothing more immersive than placing yourself in a completely different world. I like to take it a step further, and have been playing a lot of city builders. The only thing better than a fantasy world is one that I can make myself. And of those worlds to get lost on, the very best kind is the one that’s literally on another planet or in this case, moon. I’ve been building supply lines on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Stylish, Post-Apocalyptic Builder

Industries of Titan takes place in the far, far, future. How far you ask? Well, it is not a game about colonizing a hostile world because, the colonies were already built! In the distant past, human civilization rose and fall on Titan, and you are settling in the ruins. This positions Industries of Titan in a growing sub-genre of city builders: the post-apocalyptic kind. You’re not just building up, you’ve got to explore ruins, clear away the old, and recycle it to build something new. Is it a metaphor? Ask a poet. I’m too busy hocking artifacts to gain influence with the council.

Seeing as there is all this lore behind the game, Industries of Titan is very specific and very stylish. There’s a whole corporate hierarchy, colorful characters to meet, a volatile political situation, and a planetary system’s history to learn. All of this is presented in a style that reminds me of some of the best work by comic book colorist superstar Matt Wilson. Colors are deep, contrast is bold, and the saturation is high, even while the blend is low. This gives it an art style that will hopefully be timeless. Along with the very Blade Runner inspired music, Titan is a place I am happy to escape to.

Which is pretty funny, because Titan is sort of a dystopia. A council of ruthless corporate leaders rule, and they make a point of asserting their power over you regularly. There’s an active rebellion, and you are expected to crush the dissenters. The world is cloaked in an atmosphere of toxic farts. It’s not a happy place.

But I love watching my little workers collecting minerals from their deposits. Industries of Titan also passes my most important test for a fun city builder. After you’ve played for a few hours, all the little buildings you’ve constructed have come together to make a pleasing skyline. You can’t isolate the moment your work went from a collection of buildings to a fully functioning city, but it undeniably has. It feels right.

Inside and Out

So that’s aesthetics, which are super important. What about mechanics? What about gameplay? Though it is presented differently, a lot of Industries of Titan is the kind of thing you’re used to. You’ve got supply chains, workers and their happiness, and a politics screen. But one small innovation makes Industries of Titan feel different: you can go inside the buildings.

Not every building, but your major structures can be entered. This is important because not only do you have to build a city, you have to build the interiors of these key structures as well. In a factory you need to place the power outlet, the machinery, the storage containers. Some buildings can house bits from lots of other buildings, but using them complicates your supply chains. Your machines and bits and bobs are also all super-weird shapes, and getting them to fit together nicely is a lot harder than Tetris. The additional challenge of making everything fit together is welcome. You want to maximize efficiency, but you also want everything to look good.

There’s not really much of an endgame in Industries of Titan yet, but that’s okay. It’s Early Access, and there’s already a strong foundation of a unique entry into the genre. Construction is a lot more difficult than in comparable games and as your city expands, the complexity grows truly challenging. It’s all worth it, though, to look at the alien skyline that you created over many hours and recognize that this one is yours, and there are no others like it.

The phenomenon of Early Access makes it a bit tough to fully assess Industries of Titan. While beautiful to look at, and listen to, and fun to play, it is certainly not something that could hold my attention for very long in its current state. The high quality of what currently exists makes me optimistic for the game to come, but that promise is abstract. I’d advise a wait-and-see for Industries of Titan. That is, unless you want to treat yourself to a blast on wonderful cyberpunk aesthetic.

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