Dog Eat Dog: NEO Scavenger

NEO Scavenger is a cruel game. It is a game of survival, and in it's post-apocalyptic world, survival does not come easy. During the few hours I've committed to the demo, I died dozens of times. Danger lurks around every corner, and your task is to juggle the scarce resources in order to hold onto the dog's life that you lead. Malnourishment, dehydration, weariness, hypothermia, poisoning and injury were instruments of my countless demises. Leave your dignity at the loading screen, and tread carefully. Or keep on reading about my time with the demo. Whatevs.

I am walking bare-footed, wearing a hospital gown, guarding my belongings in two plastic shopping bags. I am eating berries and drinking water out of a puddle. I am frail and defenceless. Life does not get any worse than this. Night comes soon enough, and the cold takes me in my sleep.

I cram iPads into my backpack. A dozen of them. I am pleased. They will certainly fetch a decent price in the black market. But after a while, I start leaving them behind to make room for battered plastic bottles and used tin cans. Having containers for food and precious clear water is far more important than money. Is money even a thing now? A monkey-wrench to the head stops me from thinking too much about it. Fucking looters.

I am sneaking through an abandoned apartment complex, looking for clothes, supplies, weapons... anything. I start pulling t-shirts over my head, one after another. Feeling warm enough after the third one, I decide to feast upon some dry crackers smeared with ketchup. No more of those stinking, bleak mushrooms I've been eating for days. I step into the morning sun, and nausea comes over me quickly. In the pool of vomit, I notice something than shouldn't be there. I spend a day or so looking for antibiotics before the pain makes me curl up in a puddle of my own excrement. What a glorious way to go.

I've yet to meet a person more interested in talking than scraping the skin of my back in order to make a hat. The glow on the horizon gives me hope. I walk for days, stopping only to scavenge what once were office blocks, storage sheds and air strips. My throat gets rather dry, and the bottles in my backpack are all empty. I trudge onward, hopeful but thirsty beyond reason. My desperate search for water is interrupted by the sores on my feet. I need a rest, but cannot afford it. Eventually, I am overwhelmed. I pass out from fatigue, and die of dehydration several hours later.

Every game I've started has ended in a gruesome way. No matter what perks I've chosen at the beginning, I always finished my journey too soon. Lying on the ground, pondering what went wrong. The fact that being human guaranteed me only four perk slots didn't help much. If I wanted more, I needed to choose a counter-weight in the form of a disadvantageous feat - near sightedness and a fast metabolism being some of them.

NEO Scavenger has one of the most inhospitable and hostile game worlds I've seen to date. Everything and everyone is out to get you. And get you they will. You should take a look at the demo version of this turn-based, hexagon-gridden, text-heavy, RPG-like survival sim yourself, and throw some money at the Bioware-dev-turned-indie if you fancy it enough. I certainly will.


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