Rise of Industry Review: Industrialization At Its Finest

An extremely well-made niche management sim.
8
  • Windows
  • Simulator
  • Strategy
2019-05-02
RoI Cover Art
Rise of Industry is a very good management sim, albeit one of the most niche ones yet. Dapper Penguin

After about 20 hours of playing Rise of Industry, I can honestly say, without a doubt, that it is one of the most complicated management sims I have ever played. Barring Factorio, of course

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. I always admired games that knew their audience and what those people looked for, and gave it to them in abundance. In the case of Rise of Industry, that’s a very complex industrial mogul game hidden underneath some very pretty sprites and intuitive mechanics. It’s one of those titles that you’ll really need to be interested in beforehand if you want to get into it. Once you do, though, you’ll find yourself rewarded with one of the best managerial sims out there.

For reference, I’m not that crazy about management sims. I’m kind of in the middle of the road when it comes to enjoying those titles, doubly so when it comes to specialized titles, like transportation management sims (Transport Fever) or dystopian management sims (Frostpunk). They can be very daunting if you have no real interest in the sub-genre, and many you end up quitting them because your enjoyment of the game, like your resources in the same game, has finally run out. I admit that I did this in more than one of the management sims that I have played.

That said, I found something so incredibly rewarding while playing Rise of Industry. It took me a while to put my finger on it, and up to this moment I’m still left wondering as to what I liked about it so much.

Gameplay

RoI Gameplay
The core gameplay progression revolves around building various structures to grow your industrial empire. Photo: Dapper Penguin

As a management sim, Rise of Industry plays out like any other. It’s mostly just point-and-click on a top-down isometric map. The core idea behind the game, though, is its industrial roots. Instead of managing a full-fledged city, Rise of Industry sees you playing as an industrialist in the early 20th century. Capitalism is still quite young and the market isn’t quite as saturated as it is now.

There are three main game modes: career, scenario, and sandbox. Career is the most straightforward; you are given starting capital, then you build and expand your industrial empire as time goes on. The scenario mode allows you to play out events and do everything you can in order to finish said events under the conditions given. Finally, the sandbox mode is your best bet if you want to just mess around without any consequences.

RoI Map
Pictured: a portion of a medium-sized map, which has around five or six regions. Photo: Dapper Penguin

You start each game of Rise of Industry by placing your headquarters in any region of the map. There are several in each region, their number depending on how large the map is. Each region has its own abundance of resources and product demands. Rise of Industry forces you to learn how to balance these two by creating various supplies for the region of your choosing. This is very important, as each region’s success will depend on you properly filling these demands while still keeping your business afloat. There are various tiers of goods in demand, starting out with basic commodities like wheat, beef, mutton, eggs, milk, leather, wood, and other various necessities. It’s very common to see regions at the very start with high demand for these items, but the items will not be huge earners so you will have to move on to creating new demands for higher-quality goods.

The game’s core loop and progression mostly features building structures, centered around various aspects, in order to keep up production. These aspects are: gathering, farming, industry and logistics. For example, you will need to place gatherers, such as water siphons and lumber yards, which in turn provide you with wood and water. Water is a very basic necessity for growing plants and feeding livestock, which you can do by building farms, ranging from livestock to crops to plantations. Products like wheat need to be grown on farms, which is essential for feeding livestock such as chickens and cows. It’s a very straightforward type of progression that is not hard to understand, but introduces a high skill-ceiling. Anyone can pick this game up, but it takes a special kind of business-minded individual to make your ventures work.

RoI Technical
The game can get pretty technical, but its core mechanics can easily be understood. Photo: Dapper Penguin

The more technical mechanics of Rise of Industry, although a bit daunting, don’t really require a vast knowledge of advanced economics. Sure, some of the basic terms you should probably be familiar with, such as supply and demand, products, distribution, warehouses – but those are all very basic industrial terms, and you can succeed in this game just by knowing the bare minimum when it comes to those concepts. If you need any more proof, I did it, and I would consider myself to be the least business-savvy person I know. That said, this niche title shines in the hands of someone who really understands said concepts, but one with enough passion to see it work can make it happen. Another parallel with real-life business and economics.

In between regular progression, players are able to unlock new technology through the tech tree. This is included in the career mode in order to be more challenging; you can’t outright build farms without unlocking the livestock or crop they’re associated with at first. The same goes for higher tier products which are made up of a combination of basic products, such as soda water, which is comprised of sugar canes and water. Tech usually takes a while to research while also costing money, so it’s smart to always keep something going on in the tech tree while you turn your attention elsewhere.

RoI Tech Tree
To develop more structures, or new livestock or crops, you will need to access and upgrade the tech tree. Photo: Dapper Penguin

The tech tree, overall, is a nice, realistic addition meant to showcase just how far your industry has grown, while also acting as a filter for the critical thinkers who learned how to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the market. Don’t you worry, though, as the first three tech upgrades are free. I suggest putting early upgrades into basic stuff like wheat, which is necessary for all livestock, or better roads, which is a boon once you start hitting bigger quotas.

As you progress further, and if you’re still afloat at this point, you progress to supply more complicated products such as computer chips and car chassis. However, you need to effectively manage your pollution levels as well, as no region wants to be polluted by your growing industry. That’s not the only obstacles in your way, though, as there are other entrepreneurs throughout the map, and they are all looking for a slice of the proverbial pie.

Gameplay overall is not very demanding, although I would advise everyone looking to play to not skip the tutorial; everything that you will encounter in the game is explained there. It’s also worth noting that the game offers very helpful tips while in other game modes, which can be pretty helpful if you have no idea how to progress further into the campaign. That said, Rise of Industry is one of those titles that gets more rewarding as you play it. There’s a certain point in every game that differs from player to player, where they find something that clicks and they start to enjoy the title. I found mine in Rise of Industry at around four hours in, which could be longer than what some people are accustomed to.

Art Design

RoI Minimalism
Although minimalist in its design, Rise of Industry is very pleasant to look at, especially if you're going to be playing for longer periods of time. Photo: Dapper Penguin

It’s not enough to have a satisfying gameplay loop, especially in sims. Games also need to be pretty in order to compliment the repetitive gameplay. On that front, I’m really happy to say that Rise of Industry is very beautiful. It’s overflowing with charm in its simplicity, and you can quickly and easily differentiate structures from one another. The game employs a somewhat minimalistic art style that’s very distinct.

The animations are quite amazing, too – you can see the people bustling about in your region if it’s prosperous, as hundreds of loaded trucks bring your products to various stores and suppliers. There are trains, and boats, as well as fully functional carrier zeppelins, because I’d like to think that the in-game universe never experienced the Hindenburg disaster. You can also note how much pollution you’re causing, and see its effects on the neighboring structures, although I’d advise to keep that to a minimum unless you’re away from the region.

Stability

Rise of Industry was released on early access last year on Steam, and was finally made available as a full release last Thursday, May 2. The version I played was somewhat stable, although there were a few bugs here and there that I encountered. One that annoyed me in particular was how warehouses would keep storing up some products and not distribute them to the shops. It happens even if I placed a limit on the products placed on the warehouse, in which case it will still fill up all spaces regardless. I hope that we get a fix for that sometime in the future.

Aside from that, I had some crashes before start-up. I think these can be attributed to some connection issues I was having. There are also some general quality-of-life fixes that the developers can do, like fixing the slow scrolling on some windows, as well as showing you what you’re missing for structures you cannot yet place, as well as what you need to build or research in order to place them. This could go a long way in giving newer players some more incentive to play the game for longer.

Replayability

RoI Mod Support
The game features extensive mod support via Steam Workshop. Photo: Dapper Penguin

Because it’s a management sim, Rise of Industry is meant to be replayed over and over, until you finally master it. Then you crank up the difficulty sliders until you master that, too. It’s one of those games that will keep being rewarding, and the only skill ceiling you will encounter is the one you impose on yourself. In truth, as much as I think that this is a niche title, I am very much drawn to games made to challenge. I still remember my first playthrough where everything finally clicked and I was earning more than I was spending; it’s like a high that you chase after a while. Of course, seeing as I was finally earning beyond my means, I go and research new tech, tackle new markets in other regions, and repeat  the process all over again.

Rise of Industry is supported by the Steam Workshop, which means that there are plenty of mods made by the community to complement the game. Most of the available ones are only localized town names for some non-English countries, such as Japan and Sweden, which goes to show how many people around the world enjoy this game already. That said, I would like to see some more content arrive for this game, as the higher tier products are already quite expansive. Perhaps we may even reach a point where we can craft cars, ships and airplanes, as well as other specialized products.

I’d like to commend Dapper Penguin Studios because this one of the few titles that I have played where I didn’t notice actual time passing. The last playthrough I had started at 4 a.m., and by the time it ended, I hadn’t noticed that I had been sitting for about nine hours. In my defense, I was watching one of my competitors closely to see if they’ll bid for that region filled with oil. He will have to take that over my dead corpse.

Overall

RoI Overall
Rise of Industry is a very good niche title, and makes quite the case for me to play more management sims. Photo: Dapper Penguin

It’s not that often when I’d actually recommend a management sim, much less one featuring businesses and tycoons, but Rise of Industry fills in that niche quite nicely and offers so much more. The game is not for everyone, and there will be times where you can see yourself quitting altogether. Just like the early industrialists who are now the textbook examples of success, perseverance is key. Much like its core aspects, Rise of Industry is one of those titles that takes some real time and effort to be successful in; the end result, however, will always be worth ten times what you paid for. Truly industrialization at its finest.

(Review copy provided by Kasedo Games; review of the game is based on more than 20 hours of playtime, five of which were during the early access release.)

REVIEW SUMMARY
Rise of Industry
8
Rise Of Industry: Industrialization At Its Finest
Rise of Industry, much like real-life business ventures, takes serious work and effort. However, like said ventures, it offers a unique, rich and vastly rewarding experience to anyone who succeeds, as well as a minimum ten times return of your investment guaranteed.
  • Somewhat easy-to-grasp gameplay, despite the niche appeal.
  • Very rewarding core gameplay loop.
  • Clear, concise tutorials.
  • Incredibly pretty designs and animations.
  • Highly replayable.
  • Advanced technical terms can put off some casual players.
  • Takes a lot to master some advanced concepts.
  • Some presence of annoying bugs and minor design oversights.
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