NEO Scavenger Is Out Now, Hints For “Next Thing”

I spot Adam looking for me in the dark and edge closer. Adam swings blindly and misses. I tackle him to the ground and start kicking. When he passes out, I stop – I wouldn’t normally, but he’s a friend – and start rumbling around in his pockets. Nothing. I check for a plastic bag and – yes! Inside: the rights to review turn-based, permadeath RPG NEO Scavenger. I scurry off into the night… and die three days later from the Blue Rot I caught from Adam.

NEO Scavenger is out of Early Access.

I played NEO Scavenger briefly at the start of 2014, when it was in the thick of its development and showed promise as a systemic survival game with roguelike bits and really unpleasant and distinct combat. Then I played it again a couple of months ago – inspired partly by Adam’s diary series – and I’ve been playing it almost daily since. Daily battles to survive, daily excursions to learn more about its world and its inhabitants, daily excuses to steal people’s shoes.

My initial impressions were correct, in that it is definitely a systemic survival game, but it also has a robust, Fallout-style post-apocalypse world to uncover beneath that. It pivots at the point in any life when you find a foothold in your own survival, and this whole other, similarly lovely experience unfurls. Right up until you get hypothermia and die in the rain, anyway.

I think it’s great, is what I’m saying – which is why we named it the game with our favourite combat from 2014 – but Adam and I will continue our scrapping to decide who tells you Wot They Think. In the meantime, here’s some of our thoughts from last month. The game has not changed dramatically since, and is $15/£11 on Steam.

It seems too soon to start talking about what’s next for developer Blue Bottle Games, but they’ve been doing that themselves in a FAQ attached to the release:

What Is “The Next Thing?”

It’ll depend on many things, including how well NEO Scavenger does, how the market changes, and other factors. Probably the first order of business is to take a long vacation and recharge my batteries. However, I usually get anxious to make stuff before too long, so I’ll probably start looking over my list of project ideas to see what makes the most sense.

Possibilities include a tablet version of NEO Scavenger, foreign language translations, a sequel, a different game in the NEO Scavenger universe, or maybe something completely different. Probably in that order of likelihood.

It would be a braw game to play on a tablet, but I’m cheering on “sequel” or “different game in the NEO Scavenger universe.”

22 Comments

  1. shinygerbil says:

    I have to say that I’m holding out hope for a port to one of those horrible robot-based tablet devices so I can NEO Scavenge in bed. Not least of all because I imagine it would be easier and quicker to port the existing game than start work on a next thing, and would also offer a better financial return (possibly). It would also be braw (??)

  2. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    While it’s a decent enough Hobo Sim once you get past the terrible interface (and the fact that its survival mechanics are easily broken), there actually isn’t very much beyond that in terms of story content and fixed encounters, things to really flesh out the scenario and provide a bit of a challenge. What is there in terms of writing I enjoyed, I just wish there was more of it. A lot more.

    Additionally, It’s so easy to get lost in a daily routine of just scavenging and gathering things, but you never actually need to do that to prepare for anything. To explore you just need botany and a sleeping bag, maybe a sling with pebbles for combat and you can go anywhere you want. There’s no danger zone of really strong enemies you wouldn’t stand a chance against without gearing up, and if you get caught in your sleep or shot you’re dead no matter what.

    So, yeah. I’ve been a bit disappointed with the game after all the praise.

    • almostDead says:

      Agree completely. I played this like a demon for several hours then realised there’s no depth at all to it.

      Not really complaining, it’s enjoyable but not special like I first thought, and it’s appropriately priced.

      The devs backstory is inspiring in a regular hardworking guy kind of way.

      The interface is horrible though.

      • battles_atlas says:

        Are you *sure* there is no depth to it? Because without resorting to spoilers, I had a similar fear for a few hours. Then I started to find stuff on the map which promised much more, and that’s whats sustaining my immense enjoyment of it at the moment.

        I do have to say though I hate the enforced permadeath (ditto for Don’t Starve). Yes it adds a huge amount of tension, but there are only so many times I can die, often through nothing more than bad luck or one tiny mistake, and have to replay the opening stages again.

        At least with NEO you can copy the save file manually, otherwise I’d have given up ages ago. I love the game though.

    • linibot says:

      Actually…. there’s about 150k words worth of story content in the game. It’s just hiding well. ;)

    • subshell001 says:

      you should build a noise trap if you don’t want to be caught in your sleep. it’s your own damn fault!

    • coldsteelbuff says:

      I think its great for playability and the combat is just savage. The pemadeath feature is awesome for a game of its nature and you definetly have to contemplate your decisions a little more realistically.

  3. jcvandan says:

    Just bought this minute, looking forward to playing this over Christmas. Had my eye on it since I first heard about it on RPS earlier in the year but waiting for it to come out of early access. Didn’t want to play it while it wasn’t 100% in case I loved it and missed out on a more polished final product (the reason I never play any early access games).

  4. geldonyetich says:

    Having played the demo, I agree with everything Rock Paper Shotgun says about Neo Scavenger being a great game.

    Since Steam sales have taught me never to buy games at full price, I was going to pick it up just as soon as it went on sale. What’s that? It’s released now? What’s that? It’s $5 more expensive than it was in early access?! CURSE YOU, EXCESSIVE FRUGALITY!

    • malkav11 says:

      Clearly, the proper time to have bought NEO Scavenger was October of 2012, when it was a base level (i.e., $1+) inclusion in Groupees’ bundle Be Mine 5. Leastways, that’s when I got it. ;)

      • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

        That must be when I got it as well! I didn’t even know it was Early Access, and wouldn’t have figured it out if RPS hadn’t told me! I just downloaded the newest build and I’m eager to die a sad death, not with a bang but with a whimper, as soon as I have a little time.

      • purex. says:

        I have to thank you, kind stranger. I checked my Groupees purchases and it turns out I already had the game on Desura! It even entitles me to a Steam key. I really wouldn’t have known had it not been for your comment.

  5. SkittleDiddler says:

    Hopefully they fixed the horribly unbalanced RNG results before they pulled it out of Early Access. It’s no fun to load up a game and die one minute in due to a shitty roll.

  6. Rise / Run says:

    I’ve something I would add to the “bestest best combat” and hobo sim… I started playing this a month back and hit a hundred hours pretty quickly. But the most immersive part for me came pretty early in. The first few plays I had no clue what I was doing, still learning the interface, still realizing how terribly brutal the game is. And because I started with typical gamer idea of combat, I just charged right in. And of course got killed because I was naked, empty-handed and hypothermic.

    Eventually I figured a few things out. That the best early kit includes things you can easily make (a quickly sharpened spear, for example). So then I was attacked by someone, stabbed him in the gut, and he prompty passed out. And I was left with the option to wait, run away or hit him again. And I thought about it, and thought — what if he gets back up? What if he has friends who he’ll lead to me? Also, I need those shoes. So I stabbed him again. And he started to cough up blood. And I was given the option to kick him while down. And I actually felt sick to my stomach (I actually almost threw up) that I was killing someone with such calculated violence.

    To me this is important, as one would think a photorealistic manshoot might raise some of those feelings, but never have. I think it’s the combination of the power of text to create a more full experience with the incredibly meticulous care one spends with actions in the game that brought me to that point. Also, strangely, having spent the first zillion playthroughs dying from bleeding out or getting my head bashed in while asleep, I actually empathise with the NPCs I attack. Even as I murder them.

  7. Brtt says:

    Now that Graham received his check from Steam, here’s the game on GoG:
    link to gog.com

  8. Cvnk says:

    I frequently see people complaining about the interface but I happen to think it’s pretty ingenious. It’s very general purpose and the mechanics of it are consistent across a variety of interactions (scavenging, crafting, dialog). Also it leaves space for discovery and experimentation. I believe you can discover recipes by dragging stuff to the crafting pane and just seeing what you can make.

  9. bonuswavepilot says:

    “…start rumbling around in his pockets…” do you mean ‘rummaging’? I have a strange image of a tiny Graham hiding in Adam’s pocket making thunder noises…

  10. eggy toast says:

    “In the meantime, here’s some of our thoughts from last month. The game has not changed dramatically since”

    Too bad that normal people can’t actually see what you thought, last month, then.