Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Early Access First Impressions: 'Survive the Nights'

'Early Access First Impressions' is just that, first impressions. This is not a review, and is heavily opinionated.

I like crafting as much as I like turtles (internet reference), and I especially like it when the game I'm playing is unfinished. Sarcasm aside, there has been a plethora of indie survival games appearing amongst the pages of Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight and there's a damn fair amount that are still stuck in alpha/beta. At the time of writing, 'Survive the Night' has 11 days to go on Kickstarter and is described by the developers as:

Unique FPS survival focusing on teamwork, fortification, creativity and strategy. Secure a structure or roam free, the choice is yours.

I would hazard a guess to say that this probably isn't as unique as the developer thinks, especially since it's (arguably) jumping onto the crafting/survival bandwagon of the last 5 years. However, what's popular is popular and if there's demand for it, then having choice is always a good thing.

The game's premise is both simple and complex (as is the nature of the sandbox), collect resources, food and supplies, fortify your home, and then defend it during the night. Most of us are familiar with the model, and for me personally, I'm not too interested in the realism. I casually play Minecraft because it can be accessible, relaxed and sometimes beautiful. I play Project Zomboid, and I play Starbound. Realism is definitely something I'm not looking for, and visually I don't need to see the result of a texture budget of £100K. When it comes to the sandbox however, I like choice, flexibility and creativity (which is where a sandbox can become as complex as you make it).

Having said that, I like the idea of using vehicle trailers and wheelbarrows to move resources, rather than filling your bottomless pockets with planks of wood. The majority of vehicles on the island you inhabit will be usable, and you can insure your ownership of the scavenge by removing vital engine components. What I'm not a fan of, is managing your calorie intake; eating to survive is one thing, but I don't count my calories in real life!

I do also like the idea of hooking up generators to power your home, rather than light switches magically working. I appreciate the constant threat of starving, freezing and losing sanity as an incentive to explore and scavenge; rather than just an onslaught of zombie attacks (oh yeah, there's zombies by the way). There's an emphasis on player built content, and cooperative gameplay. However as with any survival sandbox, griefing will most likely be a standard day-to-day hazard.

Servers will be player run dedicated and persistent. The game as of now is island based. This will allow us to release alpha builds sooner. Islands will be added to the world and players will need to craft or find ships to travel between them. It's very important to us that the world is full and alive. Everything we design and everything we want to achieve with Survive the Nights has a meaning and a purpose.

Graphically it looks fairy, well, dull. You could ignore the fact that it looks probably just on par with Half Life 2 (now a 10 year old game), and forgive the poor texture quality because it's a small indie company from Hull, UK. However from the footage on the Kickstarter and the YouTubes and such, it looks very uninspiring and features sprawling woodlands with not much to admire.

Of course it is early access, and so there's a certain amount of flaws that should be overlooked because ultimately it's just not finished yet. But Day Z hasn't really achieved what people want it to achieve, and currently many consumers feel that it never will. So should we be less lenient when making judgements on an unfinished product? This game could tick all the boxes in the end, so maybe a bit of healthy criticism will be good for the developers. 

I will also add that the Kickstarter stretch goals are incredibly vague (throwing around phrases such as 'extended X system'), and it wouldn't hurt to go into more detail about what the pledgers are actually getting. The game has already been funded 5.5 times over it's goal, so it should get finished. If it sounds like it's worth your time, run over to their site and Kickstarter to check it out. -oP

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