Toby wonders why it's taken so long for gaming to start exploring that true survival experience.
By Toby McCasker on January 15, 2014 at 10:51 am
The fact there are insane mods that make the optional survival aspects of Fallout: New Vegas totally harrowing made me wonder why Bear Grylls has not licensed his likeness and habit of guzzling his own urine to a video game. It sounds silly but it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. What are games good for but escapism and fantasy, even if said escapist fantasy is not what most people would think of as either?
I’ve seen peeps on YouTube who will play Skyrim like some kind of outdoorsman sim. They’ll pick somewhere remote to live and treat each day like man vs. wild rather than an epic quest to yell goats into submission. It’s interesting, but it’s usually peripheral; players skirting the framework of a flexible world. Someone must tap the emergent genre of Gryllscore and — o hai, Miasmata.
Where there are niches there are indie games, and Miasmata is not about to let you get away without rolling your feverish body down a hill while you quest for healing flowers. Eh, what?
Look, maybe some of you have already played this thing. There is always that one guy whose job is to experience every obscurity ever and then pompously let everyone know whenever he can. This is an internet rule very far removed from rule 34 but a rule nonetheless, and though I have just discovered it, I am filled with a desperate lawlessness I have not felt since five seconds ago. The world is not your oyster but rather your goiter, all festering and fat with untold loathsomeness. I know. I just rolled down a hill with the filth of a strange land clinging to my sweat, only to meet my end at the claws of a wild beast I am sure has no name.
Finding a knife in this game gives you the same sense of “COME BACK HERE AND SAY THAT” you got when you first tripped into the BFG room. Not a bomb, not a gun, not even a sword – a knife. Such is Miasmata’s relentlessness and dedication to the rotten freshness of its muse. There is very little told to you save that a human poison is in the air and you have it. There is no HUD, or even a borderline patronising tutorial despite the negative gaming space you’re about to enter. Survival is what has to be learnt, and I don’t see Bear Grylls quaffing that morning’s recycled OJ around here, do you m8? So you must teach yourself, and so this is gaming as only the PC seems ready, willing and able to do.
It’s pretty magical. Though marred by the framerate hiccups and texture leprosy of the independent set, if this were given to big money for polishing I would worry. Those portly felines wouldn’t get this, even though the concept of survival underpins just about every game ever made since the dawn of gamekind. We know. We feel it in our cockles and even below the cockles. Survival-horror was not originally billed as such; it was decided on by a populace who instinctually knew dat feel when it gripped their chests and turned their foreheads slick.
Why Miasmata and Day Z and what I am sure will be more of their ilk did not become A Thing ages ago, I do not know. Pee-drinking mini-games are a tough sell in the board room.