All things considered, The Industrial Revolution has had a pretty smooth ride in the history books. This was, after all, a time of empire and all the atrocities that it wrought, a time of labour laws boiling down to ‘Get yer cap on, get to work, and bring yer kids along so long as they’re strong enough to hold a brick’. A productive period then, at least until those grubby workers discovered some fancy new idea called self-determination.
But it was also a time of surging upheavals, of impressive tensions between an increasingly cultured society and the black smoke of factories that were fuelling this relentless wave of progress. The chugging machinery of this period almost looked alien, utterly out of place sharing a city with the townhouses, plazas, and pleasure gardens of high society.
That contrast is what Anno 1800, the latest iteration of Ubisoft’s time-travelling city-builder series, hopes to capture. Stumble through its clumsy interfaces and sometimes inconvenient systems, and you’ll be treated to an idyllic snapshot of this era – a Victorian mood piece that basks in the glory of the era while brushing over some of its more challenging hallmarks.