Bleakmill's Industria has seemingly caused a little bit of a stir since it released back on the 9th of June. A sci-fi adventure that looks quite stunning in places and recalls the likes of Half Life 2 and Bioshock in terms of its overall art direction and atmosphere, it's not hard to see why folks might get excited for this one. However, it's excitement that is, quite literally, short-lived as in reality Industria is a short, mechanically dull experience with a confusing and unsatisfying narrative at its core.
It's a shame really, this one kicks off in some style with its main protagonist, Nora, an employee on a project known as Atlas, legging it through the streets of a delightfully atmospheric reproduction of pre-Cold War East Berlin. She's on the hunt for her missing colleague, Walter, and in short order is sucked into an alternate version of reality through a temporal anomaly created by the very man she's seeking to find.
So far, so intriguing. However, once we get to this alternate version of East Berlin and settle into the rhythm of the game proper, it reveals itself to be a very simplistic and stunted first person shooter, a janky experience with little to recommend in terms of actual gameplay. Nora moves in a cumbersome manner with a dreadfully slow turning circle that makes navigating the game's very pretty corridors and streets feel like a pain. Dullard robotic enemies come in five bland varieties, none of which can muster the energy to do anything smarter than move headlong into your weapon's fire, and before too long you'll tire of happening across them as you plod forth towards the roughly three hour campaign's limp and disappointing dénouement.
You've got an uninspired line-up of era-specific guns and a crowbar to aid you in your adventure, none of which feel great to use against the game's braindead enemies, and there's so much ammo laying around that you'll never feel any spark of desperation or need to strategize in order to blast holes in any foe you happen to come up against. There's just a general lackadaisicalness to everything here, with zero imagination when it comes to the gameplay side of things. Take your torch for example, it runs on batteries and should, therefore, run out of juice quickly with you having sparingly few refills to keep it lit as you manoeuvre down dark corridors. You'd think at least. Except the batteries here last ages, and there's tons of them lying around everywhere, we must have picked up 100 batteries. There's more batteries in this game than there are enemies.
Puzzles too, although they start off ok, soon become repetitive and you'll find yourself doing stuff like lifting up wooden boxes - which then fully obscure your view - in order to place them on top of each other to climb up some ledge or other. Not exactly exciting. Menus are clunky, picking up notes to fill in some backstory doesn't work as you'd expect and as a result you'll likely accidentally stash them before you get to read them, and death treats you to a reload which is often frustratingly far from where you came a cropper.
With such banal gameplay, we turn to the narrative here for hope and, even though it kicks off in a promising manner, it very soon crumbles and fades away, with a nonsensical and very abrupt ending that left us shaking our heads and wondering what on earth the point was. Coming from a small dev team of just six people, there's still things to admire here; Industria nails the vibe it's going for, there's some terrific music and it looks superb in places, there's no doubt a lot of effort has gone into this certain aspects of this project. However, none of this is enough to smooth over the fact that this is a tediously dull, monotonous, and derivative game that offers up absolutely nothing of any real worth in terms of story or mechanics.