Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
The RPS archives don’t contain a single post dedicated to Notrium and Survival Week is the perfect time to remedy that. Mod-friendly, free to download and rocking a randomised alien world before ‘procedural generation’ became the buzzword de jour, Ville Mönkkönen’s top-down sci-fi treat is still an unusual experience, even if I do sometimes feel that half of the game developers in the world have been secretly taking notes from it.
You play as either a human, an android, a psionic or an alien. Each has a story, delivered piecemeal as you survive the hostile days and nights, and a set of pros and cons. The human is puny, as Hulk so wisely recognises, so must rely on crafted technology to explore and fight. At the opposite end of the scale, the alien is a powerful hunter and can evolve to gain new abilities, but because it has scythes instead of hands, it can’t use guns.
Rather than simply surviving Notrium (the name of the planet you’ve crash landed on as well as the game), you’re attempting to escape. The journey across the planet’s sectors takes the player character through several biomes, each of which has its own challenges and objectives. At first, it’s tricky just to stay alive, due to a lack of supplies, unpleasant lifeforms and hazardous weather.
There are multiple endings, some unique to a specific character, but I’ve never actually finished the game, despite dipping into it off and on over the years since it released in 2003. The healthy mod scene has created plenty of extra content and there are some highlights on the official page.
You can read more Survival Week articles over here.