July 28th, 2012 | By Dominic Tarason
It’s been a while since we too a look at Blue Bottle Games’ Neo Scavenger. A turn-based browser RPG that takes absolutely no prisoners. Available now direct from the developer as an beta-funded work-in-progress, there’s already a demo available to cut your teeth on. Despite being browser based, Neo Scavenger is as hardcore as they get, outstripping most Roguelikes for difficulty.
In recent updates, the developer has made efforts to drag the game away from any fantasies of post-apocalyptic heroism that the player might have burnt into their head from all these generations of Wastelands and Fallouts. In Neo Scavenger, you’re a (largely) regular human being – frail, fallible and vulnerable to death from a thousand different sources. You need food, water and sleep to function, and the forests – while occasionally bountiful – are often inhabited by horrible mutant monsters.
The two big changes in the works for the game are a vastly expanded combat engine. Combat was previously a case of ‘Use axe on looter’ and repeat until someone ran out of HP and collapsed. The combat engine is set to expand to allow the use of a much broader range of skills and manoeuvres based on your characters knowledge and stats. Not many RPGs can offer the option to try and grab an attackers leg and pull him to the ground with you if you’ve already been knocked flat. Combat won’t be decided by Hit Points, but rather blood-loss, shock and other, more realistic incapacitating factors.
The AI seems like it’s getting an overhaul as well. While mutant monsters might be a little more aggressive, human enemies aren’t going to want to fight to the death over a handful of berries and scraps that you’ve picked up in a field, and will often just turn and run if hurt. No more last-man-standing Thunderdome action, which is good. I wonder whether speech-related skills will come into this more later on – being able to shout down and intimidate attackers is always an interesting option.
Winning a fight doesn’t mean you’re going to survive, either. Get slashed with a knife and you’re going to be left bleeding with a potentially infected wound, so you need to properly treat the injury. Sterilize rags to use as bandages, take antibiotics to fight infection, painkillers to stop yourself from falling into shock and all that serious medical fun. I reminds me a little of survival-roguelike The Unreal World, or perhaps Silmarils’ quirky survival simulators Robinson’s Requiem and Deus. It might not be the first game to offer a medical system like this, but it makes for a much richer survival challenge.
It sounds like there’s going to be a good range of injuries, illnesses and unfortunate events that can befall your tragically mortal avatar, too. Broken bones need to be splinted, bruises need to be reduced or risk them causing additional pain in the future – it’s gritty stuff, and the example images for the medical system are quite amusing – while it’s unlikely you’ll ever end up anywhere near this injured in the game without dying, it looks like it’s possible to practically mummify yourself. Always good fun.
It’s an impressive amount of progress for what amounts to a one-man show, albeit with some external help with design and another person working on the music. While the game is low on animation, there’s some pretty sharp pixel-art on show, especially in the scattered ‘setpiece’ locations such as the laboratory shown in the header pic waaaaay up there. It’s definitely a game to keep an eye on, and there’s a lot to get your teeth into if you decide to buy into the early beta. If nothing else, give the demo a spin. Just don’t be surprised if you die horribly. The post-apocalyptic world is a cruel place.