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Bag For Life: Neo Scavenger Diary #2

Gummiberry Juice

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Neo Scavenger is one of the best turn-based RPGs I’ve ever played. Although still in Early Access, it has oodles of content and has received several hefty updates since I first played it. As part of Survival Week, I decided to document a single playthrough of the game. No quicksaves, no restarts, no chance. Here’s how I died.

Part one is here.

Once upon a time, I was walking home from the supermarket with two carrier bags full of shopping. Nothing unusual about that but, like unlucky sadist Kevin McCallister, I was devestated when the bags failed me and my groceries fell to the ground. A tub of icecream rolled straight into the canal I was walking alongside and a clementine bounced off my shoe. Despair.

Flash forward to the near future survivalist horrors of NEO Scavenger and history repeats itself. If you read the previous entry of this diary, you’ll know that I’d gathered some vital but meagre belongings, and had been lugging them around in the cold and the rain while looking for a settlement of some sort. I’d only met one person since waking in a cowardly new world and the encounter hadn’t gone particularly well, but I was determined to make friends. Or at least to trade and maybe pass the time around a campfire swapping stories, and learning about the lay of the land.

And then my carrier bag fell apart, spilling my water and whiskey. Shortly before that catastrophe, I’d discovered a stash in a woodland area. It contained a bundle of ragged t-shirts, some broken bottles, a torch and a bladed multitool. I was excited about the torch at first – somewhere along the line I’d found a cigarette lighter, which was useful when scavenging in gloomy buildings and at night, but a torch would surely improve my chances of finding precious things tucked away in dark corners.

It’d also help to identify assailants if they were to attack at night. In the dark, it’s hard to figure out who is friend and who is foe, not to mention the precise shape and size of a foe’s teeth and claws. Apart from a close (and scripted) scrape with a Dogman, I’d managed to avoid the mutants and monsters of the surface world, but the sight of some melon-headed humanoids had sent me scarpering into the night.

With a torch, I’d be less likely to stumble or fall when fleeing.

As for the multitool – well, it was just about the best thing I could ever have found. Sufficiently stabby to be used as a weapon but also handy for cutting and crafting. I treasured it.
With all of my new goodies, I set off toward a range of hills to the East, hoping that the vantage point would reveal signs of civilisation. While bedding down the previous night, I’d seen a glow in that direction, as if of many lights. Electric lights. If a place plugged into an active power grid still existed somewhere in the world, wasn’t it likely that the people there would welcome in a wander like myself? I showed no signs of mutation and I’d only done the one murder, and that had sort of been an accident.

Whistling and swinging my bag as I went, I’d reached the foothills when the bag fell to pieces. Water, whiskey, torch and all fell to the ground. Stupidly, I hadn’t packed a spare bag inside the bag, even though they’re small enough to take up just the one space in the Tetris-like inventory system.

You know that one drawer in your kitchen that has a thousand carrier bags in it, rustling and breeding in the dark? I could have mimicked that, rolling a few into balls and cramming them in my pockets. I’d found a few carrier bags on my adventures (misadventures? sorrowful stumbles toward an unmarked grave?) but I’d looked on them with scorn. I already had a bag and soon I’d have some kind of funky hiker’s backpack. I was going up in the world, not aiming to become a post-apocalytic hobo. I’d managed to get a sweat on earlier when trekking through the woods – from hypothermic hobo to King Sweat.

Yeah, I was definitely on my way up in the world.

And then my one bag fell apart and I cried, cradling a whiskey bottle in my arms. I dumped the torch, consoling myself by scorning its lack of batteries as I lobbed it into a copse. The whiskey bottle followed it and I drank the last of the Cola before chucking that bottle as well. I kept the clothes on my back, the multitool and my last bottle of water. The lighter too, as it fit snugly into my trouser pocket.

I slept next to the copse, trying not to look at my discarded belongings. Ignoring as best I could the shreds of plastic carrier bag whirling around on the breeze.

With around 48 hours left to live, I’d already planted the seeds of my own destruction. Not literal seeds – I’d have given my right arm for seeds so that I could become a gardener in that desolate but still-green world – but the beginnings of my own ending were already in place. I hadn’t purified any of the water that was keeping my body functional, I hadn’t been clearing my tracks and I had killed a man who may have had companions in the area. I was still wearing most of his clothes.

The loss of the bag may seem insignificant but survival relies on the finest details. Everything that I carried, whether upon my body or within it, might contribute to my demise, as might the lack of the many things I’d left behind. The carrier bag mattered because it showed how a little optimism and apathy led to desperate acts.

And those desperate acts would result in another heinous act. I did find a bag eventually, but it wasn’t a funky hiker’s backpack and I took it from my second victim.

The Gelli Bears look deep into my soul and find it wanting. I have done a terrible thing. Next time, I’ll tell you how it all went down, and how I found my peace on a suitably dark and stormy night.

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