I don’t really like the dark in video games, especially when the only thing stopping cannibals and mutants eating you alive is the smallest most inefficient axe you have ever seen. We seem to have quite the obsession over the last few years with survival and crafting games and this game is no different. It’s very similar to many games I have seen or played before, grab stuff, make other stuff and stay alive. Simple in premise, completely the opposite in practice.
Story-wise there’s not much to say really, the game starts with you on an aeroplane with your son curled up asleep next to you and it all seems to be going too well for a game of this type. The brown stuff quickly hits the fan and the plane crashes in probably the worst place on the Earth it could, they never land in the middle of something useful, do they? You’re then met with someone or something that makes a dash with your son and your bad day gets worse from there, you then set out after that on a journey to find your offspring and any other survivors from the crash. There was a weird thing during this whole ordeal, my character said nothing, didn’t even cry out when his son was taken, it was all very strange. That strange in fact, that when the game started, I checked the sound settings just to be sure that voices had not been muted, which they hadn’t. It just felt and sounded odd.
After all those shenanigans, you gather what you can from the plane wreckage, various foodstuffs, items and whatever you think can provide you sustenance in your first hour or so. You don’t yet have the means to create your own food or water so this is very important early on. In my first game, I didn’t even make it to day 2 before I was carted off by god knows what and beaten to death, I was learning the ropes and just wrote it off as a learning experience. When I restarted I seemed to be in a lot better location for starting the game efficiently, the game must generate a new map everytime you die, like other games of this type. This time I was close to a water source, I had edible plants and armed with what I learned from my first run, I was confident of surviving longer than 1 day. I made a fire, somewhere to sleep and went about things in a more systematic manner and was far more successful.
The crafting system is very simple to get to grips with and, combined with your survival manual, makes things slightly easier to get your head around. You can press the touchpad on your controller and you are presented with a nice screen showing all your collected wares, you then drag them into the middle and try to combine them into other objects. You can also check what you need to upgrade items too, like that axe you started with, you can check what you need to improve it. It’s clean, easy and not cumbersome in any way, which was refreshing for a crafting system of this type. The game follows the normal survival gameplay routine, you need to keep your hunger, thirst and health levels topped up by collecting materials and crafting various stations and parts for your camp. Your sanity also plays a part in the game and you have to keep that in mind when making your moment to moment decisions. The meter I found hardest to keep topped up was my hunger, it was fine to start with when I was snacking on the bits I found in the plane wreckage but when that had run out, things got bleak, fast.
I started noticing and hearing strange things around my camp, people shaped things that sounded and acted nothing like people. Most of the time they would just stay out of range, just outside my camp staring at me, which was very off-putting. I would rather they just attacked me but it felt like they knew I was struggling to survive and they were just waiting for me to die and save them the job. They would attack now and again but mostly kept their distance, freaking me out and making sure I was always on my toes. These creatures, which I later found out were cannibals, where quick too, flying up trees and an unbelievable speed and running away when I chased them with my flimsy axe. It was most unnerving. Anyway, I was still struggling for food and at this point would eat anything, which was a good job really. You know earlier when I said things were getting bleak? – this is it. This is where the bleakness starts, strap yourself in. I had killed one of the cannibals and by accident kept hitting it with my axe and I noticed that you could dismember them. Why? Why would I need to chop up my foes? Then it dawned on me…….. Was I about to do this? Yes, yes I was. I carried the severed parts over to my fire and threw them in. Is this what it had come to? Eat some cannibal I had dismembered or die in the night, oh well, let’s eat! I ate all the parts of this monster, filled up my hunger gauge and carried on like it was nothing. Not only that, I was now in the mainframe of this being my main source of food until I got my camp up to speed. What has happened to me? Have I gone mad?
I was then stuck in a cycle, chop up some enemies, eat them, then wash the blood off myself in the water to stop myself getting infected. It worked for a while but I wanted to be better, so I set off upgrading my camp with various tools, security measures and upgrades to try and wean myself off eating my enemies. It started affecting my sanity, I seemed to lose it when eating enemies instead of ‘normal’ food and gained it from sleeping and eating well. I needed to upgrade my camp, find sustainable food and quick. All the upgrades listed in your guidebook were easy to keep track of, you just select it in your book, decided where you want it and then place it. How many resources you need is tracked in the bottom left corner of the screen for ease and makes sure you don’t forget what you need. It was hard at first due to you having a carry limit on resources but this was easily overcome by crafting other tools like log sledges and various containers to keep your collected goods in. It was slowly getting better and easier to survive.
You do come across other enemies the further you get through the game, I will not spoil them too much for people because these are something you need to experience for yourself. When I started surviving longer, venturing out more and getting more confident I started to encounter mutants of various sizes, more advanced versions of the cannibals which all forced me to upgrade, craft and get better at the game in order to survive longer and try to find any other survivors from the crash.
Graphically the game is nice enough, sometimes your resources can get lost in the undergrowth. Due to the game being quite dark I found it hard sometimes to find things I had chopped up or hacked apart, this did not bother me too much and didn’t get too annoying. The blood and gore in places heightened the sense of survival and made all the killing and dismemberment quite believable. The darkness of the night and the lighting did its job, I never liked the night and prayed for the daylight to come. Until of course I built a shelter and was able to sleep through the night, this created its own problems though as I always woke up hungry. Oh well, let’s throw another log on the barbie.
Some of the sounds in this game are great, the crunch and squelch as you dismember and relive the cannibals of their limbs is very realistic and made the whole process even worse if it could get any worse. The sounds of animals and things moving around at night was also very distressing. The lack of music, which I thought was weird at the time also adds to the whole package of desolate survival and makes all the other noises and sound effects more prominent.
I had a quick foray into the multiplayer side of the game and enjoyed it, it’s the same game as the single player but with more people. Which I know sounds obvious when you think about it but you never know these days. I didn’t know what to expect and it could have been anything from battle royal to team deathmatch but luckily it wasn’t. I had fun building and surviving with others but I did feel it took something away from the game. The risk and reward of building your camp and venturing out were severely reduced, the constant fear of being alone was removed. You had back up and could work as a team, you did not feel as alone and things never seemed as bad as when you’re by yourself. Also, seeing other players with the PSN tags emblazoned above their heads really took you out of the whole experience but I did enjoy it overall, just nowhere near as much as the single player.
The game ran very well on my PS4 Pro, I noticed zero lag or stutter in any part of the game I played. Even when online or among many enemies, I had zero performance issues and the game performed admirably.
Even though I made out in this review that it was a horrible experience, it’s supposed to be and I liked that a lot. It’s a game about surviving and it was hard at first but every death taught me a lesson, a lesson I could take into my next run. Every time I restarted I built my camp faster, more efficiently and got better at surviving. I don’t play many games of this type but this one I had fun with. This game has a lot to mess around with and craft, you can build your base in many ways and tackle the game from numerous angles. It’s fun to learn the intricacies of the game and try different things to see what works for you. If you’re into survival games, you will love it, it’s a great example of the genre. I recommend it to people who like crafting and survival, cannibals, people who like hacking their enemies up and people who are not bothered what they have to eat.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*
- The whole process was bleak and horrible (which it is supposed to be)
- The crafting and gathering is clean and easy.
- The gameplay loop is fun
- Everytime you die you learn a bit and get better for the next run.
- The lack of voice in the opening scenes, broke the immersion
- Multiplayer is not as good as the single player experience.