Written by Maurice Verschuur
April 22, 2020 – The scene is set in the future where traveling through space is a new standard and corporations take full advantage of the new opportunities that arise with this. Saturn’s moon Titan is a new frontier where you, as a founder of your company, want to settle a new industrial city. There is only one catch. You are not the only one who has this ambition. All these different company’s with the same vision have to answer to the The Council. A sort of overseer, which more or less owns Titan and gives corporations access and the right to do whatever it takes to make the most amount of money and can’t be bothered when corporations attack each other to minimize the competition.
Welcome to Industries of Titan, a tactical city builder which went into Early Access at the Epic Store on April 14. And although it’s an Early Access, there is enough to invest your time in. And looking at the roadmap developer Brace Yourself Games has published, there is a lot to look forward to.
From a space station orbiting Titan I get to choose a gamemode. Standard, Survival, where enemies will become stronger and you will eventually die, and Zen. With the latter there are no enemies. I choose for Standard and the next step is to pick a location on Titan. This is basically a difficulty setting where you can choose to have more resources, but tougher environments and a higher risk of attacks. The opposite with low risk and low rewards and a calm difficulty. And of course I need a company name which can be chosen in the last step. Once I’m happy with everything my ship leaves the station off to Titan to begin my capitalist adventure.
Monetization is life
My ship lands on a platform already build by The Council and at some distance I can the see the building where the overseer is seated. At the beginning a helpful and very easy to follow tutorial guides me through the first steps to get me accustomed to the controls, buildings and different processes like energy and waste management. There is a lot of micromanagement which, as a city builder enthousiast, I very much appreciate. For instance you can not only place buildings, but also inside a lot of these buildings you can make for example an energy plant, living quarters or storage.
People arrive at your city as citizens which can make you money. But in order to let them work for you as builders, cleaners and resource gatherers they need a little… adjustment. Who else then Laiyo Visk, Head of Human Assets can explain this perfectly: “We market the procedure as ‘training’, but the process is really more…. technical. And the effects are permanent. Once they’ve gone through ‘Conversion’, your employees will be able to work… basically forever, without break. Or sleep. There may be some long-term consequences that medical science isn’t currently aware of… but it is a voluntary process, so you conscience is clear!” This ‘process’ means citizens enter a capsule and come out like semi-robotic zombies.
To make money out of your citizens the game made a fun little parody on today’s society, called ‘Monetization Stations’. As Laiyo Visk explains it so well: “We harvest those Credits by exposing them [Citizens] to high-clickthrough video advertisements.” Basically a small room where a person stands in front of a screen and gets a lot of advertisements fired at him making you money.
Industries of Titan is in Early Access so you can expect to run in bugs and crashes. At some point in the game my game kept on crashing. After starting a new game the same thing happend after a while. I joined Brace Yourself Games’ Discord channel were an active community helps each other and, in my experience, the developers are actively interacting. So with the help in Discord I found out that my game probably crashes due to a bugged ‘Smokestack’, a building to process the city’s waste. Luckily the game also offers the ability to store this waste in containers. So this was a simple temporary workaround. It only meant I had to build a lot of waste storage until it was fixed.
This crash was the largest bug I encountered, but of course there were many smaller ones. The game has a very simple and handy tool to report them. In the top right corner there is a button which opens an in-game form where you can send bugs or give feedback to the developers. With this feedback from gamers the developer can quickly respond to bugs. And following the Discord channel you can see they constantly launch new patches to adres them.
There are two major things you will notice when comparing the screenshots and trailers from the developers with the game as it is when writing this special. Those are roads and ship-to-ship combat. I do miss the roads because for now my city looks a bit empty. The roads will eventually bring new dynamics and gameplay. And although you can make ground turrets to defend your city against attacking ships, at this moment you can’t build your own ships to defend or attack. But this will play an important part when it’s ready.
Luckily the developer Brace Yourself Games has a roadmap with an overview of content they are working on. Transportation, Combat 2.0 and Population Simulation are the first three important updates which will come soon. When these updates exactly will be released is not known yet. But they will definitely change the gameplay and bring it closer to a true cyberpunk-ish city builder game and i’m looking forward to it.