Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
There seems to be a lot of survival games out lately, though rightly so. I mean, that is the most base of all human extincts. There’s something about pitting oneself against nature to truly test one’s mettle. However, throw yourself in a cryotank for who knows how long only to wake up in a world that’s all but destroyed and running rampant with marauders and mutant dogmen and survivalism becomes less a hobby and more a necessity.
Certainly, I’m talking about NEO Scavenger, a game currently in development by Blue Bottle Games that I stumbled upon on Steam. And boy, am I happy I did. Prior to that fateful day, I never even heard of it–there was no marketing for it and it just kind of popped up in the “Demo” section of Steam’s store. I thought it looked interesting, tried it out, and immediately fell in love.
It harkens back to my glory days playing Fallout and Fallout 2, that sort of old-school turn-based RPG post-apocalyptia I’ve grown to love over the years. You find yourself confused and lost, trying to figure out who you are and how to survive. You need to forage for food, scavenge for equipment and clothing, and protect yourself against the plethora of animals, mutants, and humans that lurk in the shadows.
A large branch can become a spear or a support for a make-shift lean-to. You can look for berries and wild mushrooms but be wary if they’re poisonous; water needs to be sterilized before you can drink it. You really do have to try to survive and that’s where a lot of your time in-game is going to go. And how well you survive is based on traits and skills your character might have.
For instance, you might be versed in medical knowledge, which unlocks a more detailed diagnostic view of injuries, hydration, how much blood you might have, etc.; or you might have been a mechanic, allowing you to interact with a plethora of different machines and tools effectively or build things you need from scratch. On the other hand, you might have bad vision or be an insomniac. You don’t need to pick any penalties when building your character, but for each penalty you choose, you can choose an additional skill. You might be more knowledgeable, but does that beat out poor genes? Well, Darwinism will sort you out right quick anyway if it doesn’t.
Each game is randomly generated with a few static locations like the cryo-lab you wake up in. One game might be comprised mainly of rolling hills and forests with few human settlements, where another might have you in the middle of a burned out city. Looters and marauders are trying to pick apart the remains of civilization and fend themselves off from the supernatural creatures that now roam what used to be Detroit.
The level of detail in crafting and random encounters makes NEO Scavenger addicting early on, but it’s still pretty early in its development, with a few things it needs to work on…
Though Blue Bottle seeks to create its own combat mechanics, the actual encounters are a bit hard to follow. You take turns choosing actions (do you get closer or farther away from your enemy; do you threaten them or surrender; do you try to land a basic hit or tackle them to the ground?) and you keep going until someone either gives up, is knocked out, or killed. However, it’s a bit difficult to visualize given the game’s grounding in text-based action read-outs, which might be a turn-off to some.
Moreover, aside from the traits and skills, your character doesn’t have much to him except his biological status (how warm is he, well-fed, hydrated, rested, etc.). Weapons, clothing, and armor don’t have any stats except durability; it’d be nice to see staple RPG stats like damage, absorption, and other things that can affect combat. In fact, I think combat is the only lackluster feature this game has right now.
On the topic of being more text-based, a lot of the menus could use an overhaul. Simplification without losing the depth the game tries to offer would go a long way in attracting both veterans to this style of gameplay and newcomers alike. A lot of that can be achieved with easier navigation between menus and more actions on items (drop-down menus can preserve depth while de-cluttering the screen).
NEO Scavenger is definitely a welcome addition to the survival horror genre, especially with all the hype surrounding these games lately. With a dedicated team of developers behind it at Blue Bottle, this game has high likelihood of becoming an instant classic among avid RPG fans and survivalists alike.
Feel free to follow NEO Scavenger‘s progress on Blue Bottle’s official website and let us know what you think in the comments below!