Steam Next Fest: Crush the Industry

Steam Next Fest is almost done, so maybe you should go check out some of those games! Thankfully though, these demos are (presumably) up forever, so if you’re reading these in the future, you can hopefully still check these demos out for yourself.

Crush the Industry is a roguelike game with turn-based RPG combat. You are an employee at a game company and well, if you’ve been paying attention in the last few years, the game industry has some Fucking Problems. Besides the grief your bosses give you, you’ll also be dealing with (mostly) shitty parts of gaming culture in general, because that’s just how it be.

You’re given a linear track with divergences that leads toward your immediate boss, who wants to fuck you over for no real good reason. Which is honestly not that far off from other bosses. You can do random events with multiple choices, you can spend your hard-earned wages on passive talents, and you will eventually have to resolve an issue.

Since work is hell, the issue is represented by fighting a caricature of the person you’re dealing with. From neckbeard type players that act like they know more than the game developer to prickly Karens personally complaining to you about the appropriateness of your game, you’re thrust in there.

In a “fight,” you choose skills from three slots. Crush the Industry is a bit of a deckbuilding roguelike in that you can build up a deck of skills. Each skill slot refreshes a new skill after you use it, or you can manually refresh a slot if you’re not liking your options; as skill slots persist between turns and refreshes reset, consider trying to refresh your whole set up for the next turn. Skills have an energy cost and you can use as much as your energy allows before throwing things over to the enemy team, who shows what they might do over their heads so you could adequately prepare ahead of time.

Somebody will probably call this a quirky Earthbound inspired RPG, especially since it brings over Earthbound’s rolling ticker HP system. If you don’t know how that worked, for example, if you’re hit for 20 damage, you have to wait for your HP to roll down to have taken 20 damage – however, if the battle ends before the full 20 is deducted, your HP is maintained at what the ticker was last on.

If you’re playing as Kingsley, Crush the Industry takes this mechanic and absolutely relishes in it, as he has a default move that slows the ticker down, encouraging you to beat down the enemy as fast as possible. In fact, I lost all my HP in a miniboss fight, but I survived by stacking the health slowing and beat him down before I ran out. It’s real satisfying.

As for the other characters, there’s Jack, a scrimblo bimblo that’s just deliberately designed to be as regular as possible – but as boring as he is, his straight-laced default kit is efficient. Reina is a character that’s a tactician in that her unique skills has effects that change depending on what slot a skill is in and she can see what a refreshed skill can become; on top of the innate ability to get a heightened crit rate on odd turns, she’s a character that calls on paying attention to the game’s systems to make effective use of her.

Overall, I’d say that I’m solid on Crush the Industry. However, my main wonder is how far it would go on parodying gaming and work culture. Would it ignore the reactionary parts of gaming culture? Will it try to have them as enemies? I’m just kinda eyebrow raisy on the concept, since one of the minibosses you could fight in the demo is a parody of “titty streamers,” those women streamers who were mostly attacked by online right-wingers for reasons normal brained people don’t care about.

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