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Second Screen Shotgun: Salvaged

Despite how we, you or some ridiculous “they” may rant and rave about the legions of samey military shooters or other popular genre, games are the realm of the new and PC gaming most of all. Salvaged is right out there towards the edge of the new. It takes the tactical action of XCOM and places it on a touch device, controlled in real-time, with the first person views of soldiers showing up on your monitor. It’s a properly two-screen game, trying to simulate being an elite commander more accurately by getting rid of our so 20th century control mechanisms. I first saw it at Rezzed this year, where twelve member nu-team Opposable Games positively filled up the Leftfield Collection’s hallway, along with the sizable crowd. It’s now up on Kickstarter, chasing $125k, and you can see the pitch video, as well as my thoughts having spoken to them a little, below.

As said in the video, it’s very definitely a game that people need to play to judge properly. The simplicity of the concept doesn’t make up for the years and years spent learning where buttons are on our keyboards, mice and gamepads. Usually the information for the location of characters is on-screen rather than in our hands, and many people that I watched playing the game missed most of the FPS action. I unfortunately didn’t manage to have a shot myself but spoke to members of the dev team on the last day of the show. They mentioned that they weren’t satisfied with how much this was occurring and wanted to add in more reasons to look up.

The most interesting thing that the developers mentioned was the short time spent on development so far. The Rezzed build had only been properly worked on for six weeks, so it’s incredible how much is in place. However, the build (and some of the footage now available) did betray that occasionally – it broke a few times while I was watching, with soldiers firing at walls or simple game crashes. There’s little micro control in the game, Opposable saying it quickly became far too difficult to handle, so there was no way to tell confused soldiers to stop firing. A player can direct the focus of the mission and decide movement paths, but can’t supply precise commands to soldiers during combat.

Despite the issues, it was hard to walk past a game with such a unique concept. Plans for the future of the game are ambitious and, as with any game with such a modular structure, there are several directions to expand into. I’d like to see what they do, but I’m worried the footage isn’t high quality enough to attract backers at this point. A demo might be a necessity, but the difficulties of distribution on so many different platforms are going to be large already. I’ll certainly keep an eye on their page though and see how they face the challenges ahead.

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Ben Barrett

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