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I’ve been playing city-building games for a long time. Too long, in fact. Starting with SimCity and eventually moving into Cities Skylines, Cities XL, and many more contemporary games. The genre is sort of a personal favorite (stemming from my love for strategy games in general). When I saw the gameplay trailer for Industries of Titan, I was moved. The game had gorgeous visuals combined with levels of micro-management from one’s dreams. Hence, I decided to get into the game’s early access.

Welcome to Titan

Industries of Titan puts the player in control of a gigantic megacorporation having a reach extending across the solar system. The game is set in the future where humans have expanded beyond Earth and have colonized the entire solar system. Most corporations have their eyes set on Saturn’s moon Titan – a mystical place filled to the brim with resources. Once the homeworld of a proud race, the planet’s resource stashes are hidden within dense concrete jungles. The remnants of the buildings built by the precursors have to be cleared to make way for making a vibrant industrial metropolis. Should you fail even remotely, you will be attacked by the planet’s native fauna, skewered by lasers from enemy ships, and shipped off-world back to prison on Earth to repent your actions.

Loading screens in Industries of Titan offer decent hints about the game.

The game is currently playable in a singleplayer mode like most other city-building titles. Since it is currently in early access, it is not possible to comment on every feature in the game (since quite a few features are still missing). Hence, this article should be treated like a preview of the current state of the game rather than a review of the finished product.

Industries Galore!

As the name suggests, the player’s job is to build an industrial base on Titan without getting decimated. Being a business tycoon, players have access to a traditional build panel, allowing them to build several types of buildings. Construct buildings, set up production chains for resources, keep your people happy, fight off attacks by rival corporations – there’s a lot to do. Unlike most other city-building games, buildings don’t magically sprout from the ground when you click on it. Your workers need to transfer resources from the resource caches to the construction site before they can be constructed. This also means that you cannot quickly put a ton of defensive measures during an aerial strike by a rival corporation and fend off your territory – you need to be ready before a disaster strikes. It is no rocket science that the game mainly revolves around the construction of buildings and the expansion of your city.

How exactly does Industries of Titan innovate? Well, players have the option of expanding both vertically and horizontally. Buildings can be upgraded to increase their capacity, or simply improve the production chain. If that itself isn’t enough, there’s a thin layer of micromanagement padded in. You get to enter certain buildings and construct (and deconstruct) devices inside them. I was really excited to see how this feature worked on the ground because I didn’t like it when it was shown in the trailer. Well, Industries of Titan does change the tune from “Micro-management only belongs to MMOs and RTS games” to “Well it sure does do it well” as one plays through it. In fact, buildings like Command Centers and Factories are nothing without the devices you construct inside them – they are like empty shells without a soul inside them (pretty much me after a hard day of work-from-home).

The main innovation in Industries of Titan is the sheer amount of micromanagement and "inner expansion" possible.

One idea that I cannot seem to like in the current stage of the game is the presence of small devices that do the same work as certain buildings. One example would be the monetization station, which is identical to the Office – both generate credits by making idle citizens watch adverts. I guess it makes sense to create a class divide in society – rich people going to offices, poor people to monetization stations – but it will only become a relevant choice when citizen needs are a proper thing.

Titan Corp Will Withstand!

Titan isn’t really the best place to loiter about in. If you were part of the terraforming team working with the corporation, you’d agree readily – it’s a death trap disguised as the “lucid dream”. The precursors didn’t leave Titan without a reason. In order to get space for expansion, the buildings of the precursors need to be cleared out. These buildings often contain useful resources or rare artifacts that funds the corporation’s expansion efforts. It’s always better to survey the ruins before salvaging them for resources – just like it’s better to scout ahead before going for a firefight.

It's better to survey and analyze the contents of ruins before salvaging or destroying them in Industries of Titan.

The game opts for a resource plan similar to Warcraft and Starcraft. You have two main types of resources – minerals and isotopes (totally not gold and lumber, duh). Resources are collected by your overworked employees and delivered at your closest Command Center or Factory. Larger resource deposits are in the form of nodes on Titan’s surface – resources can only be extracted from these nodes using Mines. Minerals are the primary construction material for all buildings while isotopes are mainly used for upgrades as well as for the construction of equipment (inside Factories and Command Centers).

The game also utilizes another resource called “credits”, which is basically the game’s currency. Credits are generated by non-working citizens by forcing them to “watch advertisements”. If monetization is the main aim of the organization, better force children and aged people into labor through indirect means too (though for some weird reason citizens don’t really age in the game). You also have “waste”, which is the waste generated by buildings as well as during mining and salvage activities. The only way to remove this waste is to “burn” it in Smokestacks. Of course, that increases pollution and decreases the quality of life in nearby areas. Thankfully, citizen satisfaction isn’t a thing as of now (and is only a bullet on the roadmap as of now).

If all fails, one can always rely on the Council for “help” – in exchange for influence or credits. Influence is a resource one gains automatically with each passing minute and can be accelerated with the help of Council Monuments. As for the Council, no one knows their origin, just that they are an intergalactic organization tasked with checking the colonization of Titan. If you get XCOM vibes here, you won’t be the only getting it – that’s for sure.

The Council is the secret organization controlling colonization of Titan in Industries of Titan.

For the People! 

If as a player, you hate the order in which your workers are executing your orders, you can easily change them from the worker menu. You cannot assign jobs to workers individually or make them do stuff – the game automates that. It’s as if the workers have no individuality but exist as a single force – which aligns with the neo-capitalist theme of Industries of Titan. However, it does seem like the game wants to circumvent adding features by offering that explanation, which is pretty sad, to say the least. Also, it seems that the interaction is slightly bugged – changing the priority of tasks doesn’t seem to reflect in tasks getting done occasionally.

The only citizen requirements in Industries of Titan currently is living space.

You need to care for your citizens by giving them just enough living space and plentiful of working space. Citizens are “imported” from other worlds from the Spaceport. Citizens and resources arrive in spaceships and are promptly moved to the buildings in the colony. These people are then exploited to the fullest extent possible so that the corporation might prosper. Also, citizen needs will be added in later updates, so all citizens are essentially mindless drones watching corporate advertisements for generating credits or being transformed into poorly paid employees. Conversion stations do the job.

UI – Yuck!

The heading pretty much tells the story of what to expect. If there is anything that proves to be really distracting, it’s the UI. Overlapping words on the bottom bar look extremely odd and ugly. Also, it seems like the developers tried to jam in too much information in an otherwise small interface. This makes the game screen look smaller in comparison to the UI – hindering the experience.

The UI elements in Industries of Titan sometimes entangle together,creating a mess.

Decent Visuals and Cinematics

Industries of Titan is made in the Unreal Engine. Needless to say, the game’s visuals are themselves quite decent. The game excels in the particle effects department – which looks quite good, especially when your military installations fight off enemy spaceships. The ambient lighting is also quite decent, which makes the colony look even better when it has expanded quite a bit.

The cinematics in Industries of Titan look really gorgeous.

Sadly, “decent” doesn’t exactly make the cut in some places. The in-game zoom is really pathetic, and if your hobby is seeing your workers do their daily chores, then you are going to be sadly disappointed. The worker models look very bad (I had to observe the guys do their work inside a Factory as the zoom outside a building is really bad), and one way to hide that is reducing the in-game zoom. The game also suffers from a bug where the frame rate tanks after a resolution change (even on reducing it) for no apparent reason.

A Ticket to Titan – Worth It?

One glimpse at the Industries of Titan allows one to conclude that it is currently in a playable state. You can fire up a world, construct some buildings, create a production chain, and leave it at that. Citizens behave as drones who go to monetization stations for making money (when they aren’t sleeping, that is). There are quite a number of bugs and glitches, which can be (and needs to be) put into consideration. It’s not like the developers aren’t aware of the bugs – there was a bug with the power grid which was fixed in a small update quite recently.

Industries of Titan has a dedicated bug report form allowing players to report bugs.

The game is also lacking a serious amount of content. It’s nowhere near what has been promised as the final product. The capabilities are quite limited in this version – making it feel like a demo than an actual game. Personally, if you aren’t a big fan of city-building games, it might be better to wait for the actual release. Even if you like the simulation genre, it’s worth a wait.

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