Hands On: Sir, You Are Being Hunted

By Tim Stone on August 19th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

You can’t survive 15 years in the writing-about-games business without understanding the importance of magnanimity. Just because Jim & Co. have, thus far, failed to implement any of my Sir, You Are Being Hunted improvement suggestions doesn’t mean I’m sulkily cold-shouldering their Hammer-House-of-Hannay creeping-around-on-the-moors game. Just because Sir’s player-protagonist still isn’t a) A downed Luftwaffe pilot endeavouring to retrieve and destroy parts of a top-secret radar jammer, b) King Charles II fleeing to France across a Britain crawling with ruthless Robo-Roundheads, or c) A hedgepig the like of which Wiltshire has never seen the like of which, didn’t stop me spending the weekend with the latest alpha.

PLEASE BEAR IN MIND:

  • This is a Wot I Did not a Wot I Think.
  • The following may contain mild spoilers. If you’ve yet to play the game, and want foes and findables to come as complete surprises, turn back now while you’ve got the chance.

Though this is my first brush with the current version of Sir, a month or two back I played an earlier build fairly extensively, so – touch wormwood – shouldn’t embarrass myself too spectacularly in the paragraphs to come. In fact, I’m so semi-confident, I intend to give this AAR added piquancy by playing with the eel spear of permadeath hanging over me at all times. Saving and reloading for meals, naps, and visits to the water closet = permitted. Saving and reloading to hush-up inconvenient expirations = forbidden.

… Early Doors …

Right, I’ve picked my biomes (In a nod to my homeland, the central and southern islands will be ‘rural’, the northern & western ones, ‘mountains’, and the eastern one ‘fens’ ) and picked my nails for the minute or two it took the British Countryside Generator to do its thing. Let’s go.

After the pictorial preface has outlined a now-familiar back-story (A mysterious experiment has gone awry, and I, the mysterious experimenter, must collect the scattered pieces of an exploded device, to return home) and a few embedded tutorialettes have speedily explained core game activities like corpse rifling, food collecting, and fragment homing (collected device fragments must be returned to a stone circle on the central island of the five island archipelago) I do what I’ve done at the start of most of my previous Sir sessions – I hop up onto a nearby menhir, and binocular-scan 360 degrees of randomly-generated horizon.

Overgrown fields, higgledy-piggledy hedgerows, leafless copses, the jumbled geometry of faraway rooftops, but, surprisingly, no signs of robot-life except for a searchlight-equipped observation balloon away to the north-west. From past experience, I know I’m not going to get far without weaponry and victuals; a scavenging sortie to the nearest hamlet would be a logical initial move, but I cant resist investigating a wisp of white smoke rising from beyond a nearby hedge first.

Nestling between a telephone box and a pillar box in the middle of a deserted lane, my first device fragment! Double-checking the coast really is clear, I retrieve it, then stride out for the hamlet at the northern end of the lane.

Lumble Combe (Winner of Britain in Gloom), what delights are waiting for me behind your peeling portals? The first few houses and shops furnish little except unpleasant eggs (once eaten never forgotten), dead rats, and mouldy loaves. A handful of blackberries, a thermos of tea, and a fistful of dirty bandages, do find their way into my rucksack, but it’s hardly a bumper haul.

I’m about to turn the corner when the bleep-bloop of nearby robots stops me in my tracks. The burble gets louder, my heartbeat matching it decibel for decibel. If I wasn’t unarmed and playing for keeps I might stick around… try to bypass or distract the approaching automatons. Today, however, withdrawal seems sage. In a couple of shakes of a lamb’s tail, I’m back at the Stones depositing the fragment and considering a new scavenging ground.

… Return of the Trapist …

That new scavenging ground is a motley collection of abandoned hovels and boarded-up shops a couple of minutes’ jog to the NE. Iron Horne’s (Please Die Slowly) brace of tweed-sheathed sentries don’t see me enter the village, but one clocks me a little later as I scamper from one backdoor to another. The crack of a 12-bore sends rooks flapping into a bruise-purple sky and a man with a torso? leg? arse? (Sir doesn’t do locational damage) peppered with buckshot running for his life. Frantically vaulting walls and hedges, I eventually wind up crouched in a yard, binding my wounds and counting my blessings. The buildings adjoining the yard have just filled up twelve of my fifty inventory slots with a hatchet, a revolver, and a pair of snap-jaw gin traps.

I’m weaponised at last. The fight-back starts here!

It’s a while since I last committed robocide, but slaying a hunter is like riding a Stegosaurus, you never forget. Read. Learn. Admire.

Step #1, I stroll into the street and loiter until one of the gossiping pipe-smokers turns and notices me. Step #2, I duck up an alley an instant before steel fingers tug steel triggers, dropping a trap in my wake. Step #3, with handgun/ears cocked, I squat in a bush, waiting for a satisfying click. Step #4, I wait some more. Step #5, I wonder where those swines have got to. Step #6, I get up, tentatively retrace my steps, and – BOLLOCKS! – step on my own damn trap.

It’s a schoolboy error, and acute annoyance quickly werewolfs into genuine terror when I realise I don’t have the pliers necessary for trap dismantling. If a robot enters the alley in the next few minutes I’ve probably had it. Like most true-bred Englishmen confronted with a desperate situation like this, I weigh up my options, take a deep breath, and decide to panic. Spinning my mouse-wheel in search of salvation, I somehow manage to drop my other trap and trigger that too. Brilliant! If Big Robot had modelled discarded rakes or gaping coalholes, my next move would be obvious.

Happily, an enemy doesn’t appear and – possibly as result of some wild hatchet swings – I do finally manage to free myself. Riled and trapless, all fear now seems to have left me. For a few mad angry minutes I forget I’m playing a stealth-’em-up. One of my ferrous foes perishes in a flurry of revolver shots. A minute or two later, his companion is axed in the face by a jammy nutter with a Jack Torrance grin.

… The Tally-Ho Horror …

Now I’m armed and reasonably well provisioned, fragment hunting can begin in earnest. Not far from Iron Horne, two robots are watching over a chunk of magical mechanism that’s lodged under a clump of trees. Something about the scene – the lack of nearby cover, perhaps – makes me uncomfortable, so I decide to leave this particular tactical conundrum until later. A stroll down a lane limelit by a bloated silver moon ends with the sighting of another village – a village occupied by someone – something – I’ve never seen before.

Dressed in hunting pink and grasping a revolver, a portly John Bull-type is marching around menacingly. As I edge closer I realise that the brass-skinned brute is singing ‘Rule Britannia’ to himself in a chilling rust-flecked basso profondo. He looks like a tough customer, and his patrols don’t seem to follow any set pattern, but as I’m keen to loot the village, I push on. Cautious door dabbing (in Sir, house interiors aren’t modelled; you search buildings by locating the door, tapping the ‘activate’ key, and examining the inventory screen that pops up) finally turns up a gin trap. As I stow it in the rucksack I can’t help wondering whether its steel mandibles are strong enough to hold the local heavyweight. Only one way to find out.

A hurled pebble clatters against cobbles. A mountain of plodding patriotism goes to investigate. When the mountain, finding nothing, turns to resume his patrol, he’s rocked by two close-range shotgun blasts. The holder of the shotgun pauses for a second, waiting for his target to topple. When this doesn’t happen, he takes to his heels. Mountain pursues man. Mountain fires at man. Mountain steps on trap. Trap breaks. Man, now visibly frightened, empties his revolver in direction of mountain. The bullets might as well be blow-flies for all the damage they do. Man sprints for nearby forest, zigzagging desperately as he goes. In heart of thicket, man collapses in sweaty heap, vowing to leave mountains well alone in future.

… Inn the Groove …

South of the Stones, beyond a low ridge, sits an inn called the Robotic Arms. Inside it I discover, among other things, a bottle of stout, a bag of humbugs, an intriguing “Don’t look at me” doll and an odd text describing a INFORMATIONWITHHELD. I’m consuming/contemplating these finds, wondering what the words mean and whether if I dare experiment with the doll, when I spot the smoky signature of a fragment beckoning to me from the edge of an adjacent field. Sentinelled by a single robot, the opportunity is far too tempting to pass up.

Advancing gingerly, the empty stout bottle in my hand, I manage to get within a few feet of the spectacularly moustachioed guard. The distant tinkle of shattering glass has the desired effect, and I hurry forward to collect my prize. Ah. Slight problem. The fragment is a whopper. There’s no room for it in my crowded inventory. I’m still debating what to drop when the bottle hunter returns and the buckshot starts flying. The exchange ends with a classy long-range coup de grâce; my opponent, now grievously wounded, is beating a retreat when one of my revolver slugs sends him spinning into the weeds.

My fourth fragment sortie is almost my last. Resting atop a picturesque bluff on the craggy southern coast I approach along the cliff edge, attempt a diversion, but somehow end up embroiled in a nerve-shredding close-quarters gunfight amongst granite boulders. Point-blank fusillades are traded, bandages are hastily applied, fizzing robot corpses hurriedly relieved of ammo. When the hubbub of battle attracts a passing patrol, I come close to hurling myself off the cliff and attempting to swim to safety.

The fifth fragment comes a little easier. After the fraught fury of another unintentional gunfight (obtaining fragments without violence might be theoretically possible but I can’t say I’ve figured out how to do it yet) I tramp home happy across a landscape that’s been set ablaze by a magnificent sunset then smudged into an early Turner watercolour by a lifesaving bottle of whisky.

… The Second Most Dangerous Man in Cornwall …

Of the four unrecovered fragments left on the island, I know the whereabouts of two, and both look like certain AAR curtailers. In the hope of finding the missing pair, I set out to walk the entire coast. Ten minutes into this decidedly Cornish undertaking (with some bracken and gorse models and few wheeling seabirds, snaking footpaths, and weed-strewn beaches, Sir’s already salty seaside would be a dead-ringer for Britain’s SW tip) I stumble upon the deserted parish of Saffron Tweaking. Hams are hijacked, matches, canned pies and chocolate biscuits extracted from abstracted pantries. After lingering awhile beside a memorial engraved with the names of unfortunates who perished during the Great Marmalade Famine, the trek continues.

An unusually large, windowless building dominates the next headland. Once its security detail has been disposed of (somewhat clumsily, it has to be said) I take a closer look. Inside is an object that’s completely new to me.

I’m now the proud custodian of a rifle Colonel Moran himself would have been honoured to own. My confidence swells like a sack of rice in the hold of a leaky lugger.

How powerful is this new toy? How discrete is it? My questions are answered a short time later during an eardrum-perforating long-range attack on a hilltop fragment site. One robot is plugged where he stands, another attempts to flush me out and dies on the hoof. I’m about to go search the stiffs and collect my hunk of hope, when I spot approaching fireflies. Patrollers, their crimson eye beams swivelling inquisitively, are en-route. Time to make myself scarce. I’ll come back for the fragment when the hoo-hah has died down.

… Houndstooth Checked …

For reasons of vanity and narrative neatness, I was rather hoping this account would end with Yours Truly stepping into a skiff and sailing off into the sunset after gaining the last of the central island’s fragments. Gallingly, Fate had other plans.

Fresh from a near-perfect dawn heist and with only two fragments left to claim, I’m heading off to grab some breakfast at Food Dump No.1 (aka, the telephone box near the Stones where I’ve been diligently stashing spare grub for the last few hours) when, possibly as a result of slight disorientation, I find myself in an unfamiliar pasture with a slavering robo-hound bounding in my direction.

It’s all over in less than a minute. My shotgun snapshot is second-rate. My relief at extricating myself from the dog’s meat-scented embrace short-lived. The beast’s handlers, attracted by barks and bangs, have me totally surrounded. Before I can baffle their feeble brains with an insoluble logic puzzle, they baffle mine with a storm of supersonic lead.

As Richard Hannay famously said after being fatally stung by the Queen Triffid in episode 6 of Quatermass and the Study in Scarlet: “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!”

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73 Comments »

  1. Wednesday says:

    I think I’ll wait till it’s out of Beta, Alpha, Gamma, Epsilon, whatever, but it will be a definite purchase for me.

    Hell, I’ve read RPS so long I almost feel it’s a just payback.

    • Annamarie44 says:

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    • dysomniak says:

      Indeed, my own inclination to provide free QA seems to decline sharply as my steam backlog gets longer. Odd, that.

      (I do look forward to being hunted in the final version.)

  2. Swanny says:

    Somehow, the hot-air balloon with the searchlight is terrifying to me.

  3. Michael Fogg says:

    This needs a Shameless Self Promotion tag.

    • bstard says:

      Not using RPS for PR would be pretty dumb. Then again, so is this pre-order alpha stuff. GL with the development, I’ll be back when there’s a 1.0. Looking great so far.

      • Juan Carlo says:

        A plug here or there is fine, but the above is one big, overly long, fluff piece. Hands On articles usually make some sort of preliminary evaluative statements about a game, while also describing game play and emphasizing that the game is still in an early state. The above reads more like a diary at best, thinly veiled advertising at worst (the fact that there’s a screenshot practically every two sentences doesn’t help with the whole seeming like advertising thing).

        Like I said, though, I don’t think there’s any problem advertising the game via the blog. Just be up front about what you are doing when you are doing it. Giving us ads cleverly disguised as other things falls into more ethically grey area, though.

        But I guess I just kind of assumed that RPS wouldn’t do any “Hands on” or “Wot I Thinks” or articles of that nature with “Sir, You Are Being Hunted” because the conflict of interest is too great. Even if they contract someone from outside their stable of usual writers to review the game it’s still kind of a no win situation. Honestly, I think the best option would be, in lieu of a review, once the game is released Jim should just write a personal piece saying why he made the game, what it means to him, and why he thinks we should buy it.

        • cdx00 says:

          I completely agree. Despite this and without using nearly as many words, the game is fun and extremely polished for an ‘alpha’ state. Sadly, I don’t see this game evolving much more than its current form.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          “one big, overly long, fluff piece.”

          Actually, I thought it was remarkably factual. Very little opinion in there.

        • roninnico says:

          I have to agree. I find any reporting on this game on PRS makes me a bit uncomfortable but at least with the “self promotion” tag i can just call it an advert and skip it.

          Anyway looking forward to the game, but i really hope they don’t do a Wot I think…

          • limimi says:

            Jesus. I feel exactly the opposite to you lot apparently. I was pleasantly surprised to see this article lacked the prolonged throat clearing Rossignol leads any piece he does on SYABH thanks to you. The last time it happened, I read the italics and thought to myself ‘Does anyone reading this need that disclaimer? People at RPS seem sensible enough not to.’ Thanks for proving me wrong.

            The truth is he probably doesn’t need to put that at the start, but it’s good practice. This article however, is not written by anyone involved with the creation of SYABH, so it isn’t necessary. It would be like saying that the WSJ could never ever report on new shows coming to Fox, because Fox and WSJ are owned by the same company.

            And if that’s still not enough, here’s an idea – every single one of you knows that Rossignol had a part in creating this game, so if you see anything about SYABH then just skip it. Why in the fuck do you need a tag for that?

          • Nallen says:

            Why the hell would they not do a Wot I Think? If RPS doesn’t cover Sir something would be amiss, it’s a PC game being talked about on a PC gaming web site.

        • Kitsunin says:

          I really haven’t any sort of problem with the article, it didn’t feel like a fluff piece to me. However I do think it wasn’t really appropriate for a “Hands On” heading. I think that it followed the diary-esque formula, but it was just lacking in the criticisms, opinions, and information they usually have. I dunno, it just feels like it should have been a mini-diary or something.

          But, not a big deal if you ask me.

        • Juan Carlo says:

          A fluff piece has nothing to do with opinion, it’s more about a lack of substance. Usually in “Hands on” articles the writer will take a more critical approach to the game and describe their (very preliminary) impressions of its various elements, positive or negative, along with the actual experience of gameplay. The above is just a breathless recapping of gameplay along with copious photos, though, which is what makes it read like advertising.

          I mean, I like RPS and I don’t think this is part of some sinister plot on their part to secretly sell the game to us or anything, but as journalists they need to be careful how they approach this. I don’t think it’s a good idea for them to cover the game at all in features that traditionally have a critical/evaluative element to them (i.e. “WIT,” “Hands On,” etc), but if they insist on doing this then they need to at least treat the game like they would any other.

          • Tim Stone says:

            The lack of criticism/praise is deliberate. I suspect it would be difficult for me to share my views on Sir here – /anywhere/ in fact – without provoking perfectly natural yet impossible to counter, suspicions. I was up front about that at the start (“This is a Wot I Did not a Wot I Think”).

            I set out to write something that communicated how Sir plays. If you’re not familiar with the game and are curious about the pattern of play, the dilemmas, emotions it generates, hopefully the piece will provide a few answers.

            “the fact that there’s a screenshot practically every two sentences doesn’t help with the whole seeming like advertising thing”. That’s purely a personal quirk. If you check my Flare Paths, or the last Hands On I wrote (Kenshi – 27 pics compared to the 22 in this one) you’ll notice I’m fond of images.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            I recall an excellent article by Mr. Stone on the art of screenshotting. He loves it. Was it here? I forget.

            Never change, Tim.

          • Mr.Snowy says:

            I enjoyed the piece myself. I pre-ordered a while back, enjoyed the beta for the hour or two I played it last night, and it was nice to read someone else’s experiences

            The bottom line is that it is a very good little game, very well realised, and it is extremely unlikely that there will be much bad press written about it either here or anywhere else.

            There is no reason why RPS should withold comment on a game made partly by one of their own, or any reason why it should get up the nose of anyone reading here in all honesty. Even if there were an element of self-publicising, would you not do the same in his position? I bloody would!

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT!, they have been upfront about Sir since the off, they own the website and can do as they see fit. Their actions could have a negative impact on page impressions but not as far as I’m concerned.

          Begging articles about half baked Kickstarters, mmmmmm, a different matter entirely but it is their baby!

          I’m looking forward to Sir as it is my sort of game, a bit left field as it were!

          To be fair, the amount of games they cover is pretty fuckin’ vast and I’m sure that Sir would have been covered editorially even if it didn’t have inhouse connections!

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      Morlock says:

      Luckily this is a very interesting game regardless of who made it. I feel that even if Jim wasn’t involved, he would be writing about it.

      I remember a similar situation in Germany. Boris Schneider-Johne translated many of the classic Lucasfilm adventures into German. However, he also worked for Germany’s biggest gaming mag at the time. Years later his colleagues said that fortunately there was never a big conflict of interest when reviewing the games, because they were so great anyway.

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        Stellar Duck says:

        I’ll assume you’re German, and apologies if not, but I loved that anecdote about adventure games in what must have been the early nineties. You guys take your adventure games seriously! Sadly, noone else seem to do.

        • Flopper says:

          PC in the nineties WAS the adventure game platform! What other reason was their to play on one?

        • Premium User Badge

          Morlock says:

          You are welcome (?). Yes, all my friends who played games loved adventures, and I was surprised when I heard that they were not more successful in the US and other countries.

    • MobileAssaultDuck says:

      I think it only gets that tag if Jim writes it, as it is he who is involved.

      As Tim wrote this, it is not technically self-promotion as I do not believe Big Robot and RPS are financially linked in anyway. Unless you consider Jim working for both as a financial link, of course.

  4. Premium User Badge

    felisc says:

    I want to play this ! damn you Steam being wobbly !

  5. zachforrest says:

    Lovely stuff

  6. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    You should do more of these AARs for other games Mr. Stone. This was an excellent read!

    As for the game, I’m loving it so far.

  7. rawrty says:

    Admittedly, I only gave the article a quick scan as I want to go into the game relatively spoiler free, but everything I’ve seen so far is really making me very glad I backed it. Keep up the good work, can’t wait for the final product!

  8. LionsPhil says:

    After lingering awhile beside a memorial engraved with the names of unfortunates who perished during the Great Marmalade Famine, the trek continues.

    Between Jim and Tim’s whimsical stylings, I honestly can’t tell if this is an actual thing that was generated in the gameworld, or merely a fantasy constructed upon it.

    • trjp says:

      That someone would say that is a bigger compliment than anything else, really.

      It’s one thing to take a concept and hammer it into people (tweed, robots, britishness) – it’s another to blur the line between actual game content and invention.

      Also – in fairness to everyone – Murdoch’s journalists have argued that he doesn’t tell them what to write, not necessarily realising that they’re only employed because they write what he likes

      In other news – tea…

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      DrScuttles says:

      I happened upon a similar monument on the outskirts of the village of Sloe Hampton, only dedicated to the victims of the black oil plague. Before being chased away by angry robots, I caught a fleeting glimpse of the most familiar name; a Mr. Alec Meer.
      And they said he was on sabbatical! Poor Alec.

    • MadJax says:

      Beautifully the monuments are real objects in the game that feature names etc. I enjoyed saluting the brave infantry of the Great Monocle war this very eve.

  9. Premium User Badge

    JB says:

    “My confidence swells like a sack of rice in the hold of a leaky lugger.”

    I heart you, Mr Stone.

  10. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Wow, you really weren’t lying when you said Sir was terrifying at times. I’ve never been more scared to move, lying along ditch of thorny bushes with a searchlight just behind me and a pack of hunters at the other side of the bushes.

    Also a question: is the protagonist human? I need to know this because of fanfiction.

    • Muzman says:

      In the info graphics our hero looks like some sort of creature composed of one enormous bean at times.
      The butler thought it better not to tell you about the machine’s other side effect lest it distract you, I suppose.

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    gorgonaut says:

    If this was a game about allowing electric current to pass around another point in a circuit by creating a low resistance path, it would be called Sir, You Are Being Shunted.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      If you keep this up it’ll be more like Sire, You Are Being Punted.

      • Premium User Badge

        gorgonaut says:

        Were I to be punted for my desire for a game about getting shunted, I would be affronted!

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      mpk says:

      That sounds like the kind of Thomas & Friends game my four-year-old would enjoy.

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      phuzz says:

      I’m so excited I’m going to put up strings of small flags everywhere; Sir, you are being Bunt(ing)ed.

    • reformedniceguy says:

      Hacking off a limb to escape a bear trap, could lead to your Sir being stunted.

  12. Monkeh says:

    So far, absolutely loving it. Having an open, randomly generated world for a stealth game is just awesome and really gives you to freedom to ‘create your own experience’.

  13. jealouspirate says:

    So far, it appears that I am not very good at this game. The robots have successfully hunted me several times.

    It’s quite fun though.

  14. The Random One says:

    Who else thought this would be by Jim and consist of fifteen paragraphs of orgasmic praise?

  15. pupsikaso says:

    Why are they carrying those long-barrelled shotguns in such a strange manner?

    • LionsPhil says:

      I believe the stereotype of the hunting gentry is to carry the shotgun around with the breech open, the crook nestled over an arm, presumably to avoid accidental discharge should you stumble on the fine brackens of the English countryside.

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        Stellar Duck says:

        Not sure about the gentry hunting but I do know that that’s the default way of carrying a shotgun when hunting here in Denmark. At least where I live. Those who don’t carry open are generally not invited to the next hunt.

        I’ve an uncle with a face full of lead pellets to prove why it’s a good idea.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Yes, the ruling classes are not well renowned for guile or intelligence. The demise of a beater, no great loss but an inbred imbecile discharging buckshot into the heir to half of Buckinghamshire, well what would the country do in light of such a great loss?

  16. Lerxst says:

    I keep cranking the volume way up in my 7.1 headset so I can hear the patrols out in the distance. Only problem is, I keep thinking I’m being all stealthy when apparently I’m not. Every single time a robot fires a shotgun blast my way, it startles the ever-loving shit out of me. My mouse slips off the mouse pad and my fingers go all plokta. Man, I hate that! This is a lot of fun.

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    Mitthrawn says:

    I downloaded it and fired SYABH up, been playing for about 3 hours.

    It reminds me that Jim loves STALKER, much like Tom Francis loves Deus Ex. It seems like a STALKER set in England with murdering genteel robots, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    There is a good sense of tension to the game. There is no quicksave, just saving at the central stone, and on boats (to travel the five islands) so the farther away you get from that central hub, the longer you go without saving, the more exposed you feel and the less likely you are to engage the robos. Tension is also good because of the survival mechanic, i.e. the hunger system. It works well because in order to heal wounds you need to be at a certain “vitality” and your vitality is always going down. Nothing that hasn’t been done in fallout or skyrim survival mods, but coupled with the oppressive atmosphere and lack of saving it fills out the game.

    The atmosphere, by the way, is great. It feels distinctly british, with overcast skies, fog effects, and the coloring used. The trees and fauna seem perfectly fitting. The setting is a strength of the game, particularly since so few games use it (british countryside? I’m having trouble naming any).

    The guns and costumes seem to call back a different time, and I think Jim has made reference to this being an alternate past game in, well, the past. The gunplay feels slow and inaccurate, but it actually fits the game and universe. Reloading for both you and the robots takes what seems like forever, so that there are times you’re standing in front of a robot and both of you are reloading. Overall the guns feel right because of their slowness, with the robots using vintage hunting rifles and slow loading shotguns ( you use the same of course, since you scavenge the same weapons from them).

    It says Alpha build but the game feels pretty polished for an alpha. I haven’t encountered any game breaking bugs, just a couple weird cosmetic things, like the water shaking back and forth too fast and the edge of the coastline. I can understand waiting, but this is not from my experience, a buggy or incomplete game, though I’m sure they will add more biomes and hopefully some other stuff to the mix.

    There are a couple niggles I have with the game. I worry about it’s length, and more troubling, it’s variety of enemies and experiences. In playing for three hours its been fun, I just don’t know if after 10 I will say the same thing. There are only three basic types of enemies- regular, overseers (the mountains tim references) and the dogs. The balloons count somewhat I guess, except that they are very easily avoided and so play almost no combat role.

    It would be great to see an escalation, so that the more fragments you found the beefier the security became, as the robots figured out you were after them, they could increase the security around the last 1-2 islands to make your job tougher. I’m thinking something like a robotic cthulhu thing, like the bloodsucker from STALKER, that could only use melee but had a strong sense of smell and was very fast. Just more variety in general would be good. I know they’re a small team but I just worry the gameplay will get old fast without different enemies.

    Overall the gameplay is fun and I’d recommend it, but I do have concerns about its staying power. Hopefully Big Robot addresses that with more items, enemies and biomes.

    • xaphoo says:

      I agree with these criticisms. While new enemies are certainly coming soon, the game could use a wider variety of useful items as well as a kind of arc wherein enemy tactics change and build as fragments of the machine are accumulated. As it is — and probably as it will remain even after more kinds of enemies are included — the game lacks a certain “color” that comes with variety and subtlety of experiences.

    • Muzman says:

      What you say is valid, but half the enemies aren’t in there yet, remember.
      It will be interesting seeing how that goes. It is actually quite tough now and can take a fair bit of time and resources to deal with the hunters. But your resources are finite and they are becoming more concentrated and active as time goes on, so you’re really getting weaker while they get stronger anyway.
      After my first couple of goes I could foresee end game scenarios being unbelievably hard once later enemies like The Hunt become implemented (that’s assuming all else remains the same of course, which it won’t).

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      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      My main complaint was that after gathering six or seven of the fragments, I was dead tired of loping back to the big central stone to drop them in (but the limited inventory space didn’t give me much choice). I tried clearing out a few of the robots to make the trip less fraught, but for every one I killed, another respawned. So much for that.

      Having to do the same fetch quest 19 times in a row is rather tedious; I wish there were some other goals for a bit of variety.

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    PoulWrist says:

    I enjoyed this read. Looking forward to release :)

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    mpk says:

    What this article doesn’t properly convey is the ball-shrinking tension caused by the endless bleep-bloop of those goddamn robots as they hunt for you, broken only by random non-sequiturs like “I’m incredibly rich” and “Don’t tell my wife” (or words to that affect, I haven’t played in a few days because Civ V).

    The atmosphere conjured by sight and sound within the game is a wonderful mix of fog, rain and dodgy mid-century British horror that could only really have been improved had it been Vincent Price on the voiceover.

  20. frightlever says:

    Looking forward to the final version of this but feeling really tempted to throw down for the Early Access, and just wait before playing it.

    There’s no co-op, right? Not important for me, but I know some people who like that sort of thing.

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      mpk says:

      Single player only at the moment. Multiplayer was a Kickstarter stretch goal but Big Robot have always said that it was going to be added after release. Competitive and co-op modes iirc.

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    Mungrul says:

    I had a quick go last night before bed and enjoyed what I played.
    I died in my own bear trap after creeping up on two robots guarding a device fragment.

    One technical thing I’m wondering if they could implement: Any chance of borderless windowed full-screen mode?

  22. SuicideKing says:

    Excellent read. You should have thrown a paradox at them in the end.

  23. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    Scooby Doo has fucked K9, there is photgraphic proof, the progeny!!!

  24. Dave Tosser says:

    Curses! Without locational damage, what am I supposed to do in the unlikely event that each of my walking appendages get caught in a trap? Not hack them off with a hatchet and move myself with my face for the rest of the playthrough?

    I remember Deus Ex, in which I finished Liberty Island with no limbs. I also remember Deus, in which I cut three of my limbs off and lived for a bit.

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    Mungrul says:

    Oh yeah, one thing that immediately sprang to mind when I started a game but promptly forgot.
    I don’t know about anyone else but something about the intro evoked Another World for me.
    Anyone else?

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    melnificent says:

    Looks lovely on the large TV and plays surprisingly well with a 360 pad (excluding inventory management).

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    Ham Solo says:

    I like the game alot but the vitality thing frustrates me