Rise of Industry Review – Rise of an idler

Rise of Industry web thumbnail

The opening statement of Rise of Industry sounds like a sermon coming from a priest of capitalism. But soon afterwards, the opening cutscene is foreshadowing things you can expect out of Rise of Industry. The delivery of it is so grand that you will subconsciously look forward to it and experience the challenges it foretells. If only all of it to be true.

Rise of Industry is an optimization-simulation game that primarily focuses on the industrial and production aspect of a city builder. It doesn’t bore you with stories or missions, as it doesn’t have either of those. Nor are you required to colonize and build a self-sustaining city like the ones in Anno or prevent the collapse of society such as Frostpunk. What it does allow you to do  is to build a massive industrial empire to amass a fortune of unbelievable proportions without worrying about taxation. The scale of your wealth is parallel to the height of your ambition.

It’s all about supply and demand in Rise of Industry. You gather resources, produce produce, assemble products and sell your goods to a thirsty market. And the tutorial makes it abundantly clear on how to set up a basic chain of supply and selling your goods to the appropriate market. This simple gameplay loop is the core strength of Rise of Industry, yet it still poses a decent amount of challenges upon constructing a supply chain of higher tier products.

Rise of Industry
Rise of Industry | Dapper Penguin Studios

A vast random generated land that’s further divided into several different regions lay before you in Rise of Industry. Each of which is already populated with a small city. Because of that, you don’t need to worry about building residential areas or supplying your industries with the necessary manpower. What you do need to worry about is whether you like maths. Calculations are needed in order for you to optimize your production without fulfilling 100% of the market demands. This way your products will consistently be sold at a markup rate of 20-50% of its actual value. God bless you capitalism!

A markup of 20% does sound impressive and a markup of 50% sounds like a heavenly decree from the gods of wealth to the investors to wholeheartedly milk that market. But any individual with a sharp mind for business would check the base price of the product after seeing the percentages. A markup of 50% with a base price of $2000 is a less profitable venture compared to a markup of 20% with a base price of $10,000. So a small amount of common sense is needed in Rise of Industry for you to maximize your potential profits.

There are numerous types of raw resources for you to refine and sell, and it’s incredibly irresistible for any business tycoon to not stick his fingers in every delicious cookie jar there is. The problem is, you are limited by the amount of land available. It’s doable to invest in every profitable venture at the start, but as you research the production of higher tier products, the amount of space these facilities take up is enough to dwarf your lower-tier facilities when you are optimizing for maximum efficiency. Seeing that the growth and expansion of the city, something which you do not have a control of, foresight and crucial planning is required to fully make use of the limited space.

Rise of Industry city growth
Rise of Industry | Dapper Penguin Studios

With that being said, that’s all there is to Rise of Industry. Really. Well…there is something about pollution and the city folks being angry about it and corporations emerging to serve as a rival competitor in meeting market demands. But giving you my honest opinion, these are nothing but over-glorified antics statements being made when you watch the opening cutscene of Rise of Industry. It’s not that these mechanics don’t exist in the game at all, but the fact of the matter is they do. The thing is, if any of these mechanics is removed from the game, it does not significantly affect the overall experience you get from playing Rise of Industry. That’s how poor the execution of the idea is in Rise of Industry. 

Let’s talk about the first unimpactful mechanic of Rise of Industry, pollution. Pollution is the solution or rather the supposed downside of manufacturing higher tier products. You need factories to build higher tier products, and factories walk hand in hand with pollution. There’s no two-way about it. It’s a way for Rise of Industry to curb you from making as much money as possible; as you need to spend money to build and maintain your counter pollution problem. That or it’s trying to reflect real-life implications that factories and pollution have on the world via another medium.

Plopping down the Air Purifier, a building to clean up pollution, will get rid of the dark clouds of pollution within seconds. There’s a higher tier version to the Air Purifier, but the Air Purifier is more than capable of dispelling pollution that it doesn’t warrant you to research a better version of it. In fact, when placing the Air Purifier in tandem with those factories, the black clouds of pollution would never exist in the first place. It’s so effective that I need to actually Google the negative impact pollution has in Rise of Industry besides the visual aspect of the game.

Upon reading the negative effect, I come to the conclusion that it is negligible. Effects such as the city building will be destroyed and its population killed upon lingering contact with the pollution or slow growth rate of organic resources upon continuous exposure to pollution does sound horrible, but you wouldn’t want to build the factories near such places in the first place either. Comparing this to Anno 2070 negative pollution effect, I would say it is rather cute.

The other unimpactful thing Rise of Industry has is rival corporations. The opening cutscene and the tutorial heavily emphasize on the fact that there will be competition from AI company. And they are out to suck the market dry. But it is so far from what you expect from such a bold proclamation.

After you have selected a city as your starting headquarters, the AI company would do the same around your starting state. And they pretty much do their own thing. They don’t intrude on your market and they barely even meet the market demand within their own city. You wouldn’t even notice their presence on the map if you don’t actively go look for them. But what these AI companies are good for is for you to take over them once their industry is up.

To take over a rival company, you just have to buy all of the company shares. Once you own all of the company shares, that company will be yours. And just like that all of the company infrastructure and money they make is yours. It’s that easy. They won’t buy back the shares that you bought from their company, nor would they touch yours. Buying out a company is easier than taking candy from a baby.

Because of that, the absence of pollution and a rival competitor does not affect the core gameplay of Rise of Industry, which is setting up the supply chain. You send trucks to your crop fields to supply them with water and when it is ripe for harvest, you send out more trucks to sell your freshly grown grapes to the farmers market for cash. I like this simple way of setting up a production chain and it tickles my brain as I’m doing my best to find the most optimized way to earn as much money as possible.

Rise of Industry
Rise of Industry | Dapper Penguin Studios

And that is all there is to enjoy in Rise of Industry. Whenever you have a new product or produce unlock from research, you would spend most of your brainpower trying to come up with an optimized setup. It’s becoming an instinctive reaction to immediately set up these new facilities that you had just researched.

This is all well and good at the start of the game as the time taken to research the first tier of goods is relatively short. You would be preoccupied by schemes on trying to milk your newly researched goods for maximum profits at this point of time. But once, you run out of first-tier goods to research or gunning for the higher tier products, you will see that Rise of Industry is secretly an idle game. The charm you had for setting up a new production chain easily fades away as you wait for the next completed research.

The first-tier of research takes 60 in-game days, coupled with 4x speed it will only take a few short minutes to complete. But as you go up the research tree, the time taken to research higher tier products multiply, with the longest being 1680 and 540 days being the next longest. Even with 4x speed, you can spend up to 30 minutes waiting for those research to be finished. And once it does, you will be like a dry soil craving for the rain to drop. After setting up your new industry, the waiting game begins again.

Rise of Industry is no doubt a quintessential city(industrial) builder game. Perhaps the simple supply chain setup, pollution management and AI competition makes Rise of Industry an easy gateway to the city builder genre. But if you enjoy the likes of Anno, Cities: Skyline and Frostpunk, you may be disappointed with the city builder experience Rise of Industry provides. I know I did.

Plaftorm: PC(Windows[Played], macOS, Linux)
Publisher: Kasedo Games
Developer: Dapper Penguin Studios
Rate: 6.0 out of 10
Price: $26 (or your region equivalent)

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