By Chris Picone, 16 March 2023
I love deckbuilding cardgames. and Crush the Industry doesn't disappoint. It's a challenging game with a great sense of humour and includes roguelike elements that do wonders for replayability.
Features a nice blend of cartoon-style pixel art, heavily stylised but equally high quality. I love it. The little character sprites are cute, and the larger images on all the other screens are all lovely and detailed. It's a satirical piece, so everything's a little bit caricaturised. Colour-wise, it's an interesting blend of dark and light - usually dark backdrops but lots of colour in the sprites which creates an interesting mood. Each level is themed; the first level is the "toxic" level, the second is the "creative" level, and so on. Keeps things interesting.
Core gameplay is simple: You have three cards available each turn, and four energy points. Cards have an energy cost, and whenever you play a card it's replaced by another from your deck at random. You can also spend cycle points each turn to replace cards without playing them to help strategise. Many of these features are interlinked so in some cases cycling cards (for example) might have a synergistic effect with some of your cards. Your life is measured in both health and sanity, and of course the usual burn, poison, etc. effects can be found. When you're finished, your enemies get to attack you back. You start the game with three playable characters, each with their own set of passive abilities that affect your overall play style. For example, the aggro starting character's base attack adds +1 power every time you use that skill, allowing you to stack up damage quickly. The manipulative character lets you see the next card for each slot so you know what to expect when cycling and can plan ahead. You also start with a "basic" set of cards - block, meditate, attack, and sweep - although each character does include slight variations in your starting hands. As expected, you purchase and unlock new cards as you play through the game. And the number of slots you have is limited, forcing you to consider the balance between defensive and offensive cards, abilities, and cheap vs powerful but expensive. And eventually you'll be forced to make tough decisions as you run out of slots and have to replace some cards that have probably treated you faithfully. In addition to this though, you also get to purchase upgrades for your abilities, allowing even your weaker abilities to become powerful over time but also forcing you to make more tough decisions. Finally, there's the roguelike element, which lets you unlock new characters and abilities which remain available in future runs. This is probably my only complaint about the game: Unless I'm doing something wrong, unlocks are doled out rather slowly and there's no transparency so I don't know what challenges or objectives I need to aim for to unlock the next thing.
Crush the Industry should appeal to any fan of deckbuilders. It's well presented with quality pixel art, a great sense of humour, plenty of variety, and although I might have liked the new characters and abilities to unlock a little faster, it's a solid card gaming experience overall.