Premature Evaluation – Osiris: New Dawn

Every Monday we send Brendan to the far-flung reaches of the early access galaxy. And sometimes we even receive a report back. This week he finds himself stranded on a stormy, alien-infested planet in Osiris: New Dawn [official site].

I have survived many things – the dinosaurs of ARK, the mad men of Rust, a degeneration of the self in DayZ. This makes me perfectly suited to colonise and thrive on the dusty, Mars-like planet of Proteus 2 – the only map of this new survival game. I crash-land on the planet, patch my suit up with duct tape and set off for the great unknown. I reach a huge crater and peer in – what riches will I find here? What wonderful discoveries? Oh, look, a giant worm has leapt out of the ground. I have discovered a giant worm. Also, I have been eaten.

Welcome to Osiris: New Dawn. Like those that came before, this is a game of collecting resources, crafting items, building a base and periodically dying at the hands of your fellow man or in the jaws of some horrifying form of multi-limbed wildlife. Everything is in its place, like the static Rust map of old, and your map device provides co-ordinates for your exact position. In PvP servers the astronauts are divided into teams – the UNE and the Outlanders – and they are spawned in different areas. Not much gets explained to you upon landing, apart from how to fix your suit and how to get as far as saving your progress. Like its forbears, Osiris doesn’t waste much time teaching you anything beyond “here’s how to build a shack, okay, off you pop.”

But the gist is enough to get anyone familiar with the genre into the swing of things. I took my space hammer to some rocks and, hey presto, plutonium. I struck a tree and, lo and behold, some berries. I shot a giant spider with my pistol, et voilà, eaten by a giant spider. It’s a survival game all right.

I had some trouble getting a multiplayer server to run correctly, however. A result of this is that you’re going to have to suffer a review of the single-player experience. Hardly ideal, but then again, it was the game’s own fault. First the lag was causing ghostly astronauts to appear and vanish in front of my eyes, then I was informed that no more structures could be built due to overcrowding. I looked around at the empty wasteland and frowned. Only 12 people are allowed on a server right now. I could not see any of their buildings.

Eventually, these and other issues chased me onto my own private game, where I could control how fast the deposits of iron and copper regrew, or how nasty a bite from a Giant Land Crab was. I left these alone for now but they would come in useful later.

Remember when Rust gave you a shack to start with? Something safe and easy to make? This does more or less the same thing with an inflatable dome. Somehow this bubble of cloth and plastic is strong enough to keep out horror-animals with spikes instead of feet – a property I am glad it possesses, since my first night on Proteus 2 was spent peeping out the doorway and taking pot shots at the ‘arachnids’ and ‘gnats’ that leapt around outside and hissed liked nightmarish cats. Often their spiny limbs would clip through the wall of the shelter and this would make me a mix of unsettled and amused. I killed them all before sunrise.

I doubt the creatures here would be so creepy if the night time wasn’t so profoundly dark, requiring a torch at all times. My battery has yet to run out but when it does I will have to scour the planet for lithium. The monsters, meanwhile, are both scary and a nuisance. By default there are a lot of them. Some, like the land crabs, are vicious from the moment they see you, others such as the tortoise-like Tumbo, will only attack if you get too close and others still leave you alone no matter what, like the tiny parasite. Physically, they’re wonderfully alien, a ramshackle posse of critters with inspirations ranging from Dead Space’s necromorphs, ancient trilobites, ostriches, Dune’s spice worm and Starship Troopers’ bugs. As a work of alien creature design, I like them a lot. As a videogame enemy, they are infuriating pests.

Let me explain. I set up my starter dome in an area with a lot of iron and lead, thinking it would be smart to be near some resources. Unfortunately, I had to kill a Tumbo, one of the tortoisey creatures, after it protested at my presence. First my robot helper began shooting at the animal. Everyone gets one of these AI pals at the start, to help you mine or fix things. But they are hopelessly dumb, often getting stuck behind terrain or objects. The robot was killed within seconds. I shot the alien to death in the head. Picking the alien meat off the ground, I dusted my hands and began setting up my home. Let’s see, I’ll put a depository box here, a forge here, yes, then some nice –

The Tumbo reappeared.

I turned to look at it. It started howling at me and I had to put it down again, running around in circles and slowly chipping away at it with my pistol until it fell.

Hmmm. I got back to work, mining some rocks and exploring. When I came back to the base, I saw the Tumbo had respawned again. So, I realised, the enemies respawn in exactly the same spots all the time. Excellent. I killed the same giant tortoise seven times, doing the circular shoot-him-in-the-head dance every time, before I lost the rag and packed up my inflatable home. I had to destroy the forge and deposit box and relocate everything 75 metres away. He still spawns there now and I have to look at him from afar and seethe. I cannot describe how furious that Tumbo made me.

This is maybe because, as with other craft-em-ups, Osiris asks you to invest a lot of time. Playing by your lonesome, it can take hours to get a habitat up and running. I eventually built a bigger structure only to discover you also need to fill in each wall individually, which means more trips to the iron deposits, more shovels full of sand into the forge to craft glass, and more journeys out across the planet’s surface to get faraway materials.

In the beginning, I loved this. It felt like a real undertaking – walking out into the wilderness in the middle of a huge duststorm, terrified that night would fall any minute and that a pack of arachnids might show up. The visuals do it a big service here. Rain and dirt gets on your visor, warping or obscuring fine details of the land. The wind howls, the trees bend. Through the sand you can see some movement – a shadow? – but you’re not sure what. Like all the best planets, this one has an atmosphere.

But the more the game’s crafting tree was revealed, the more I began to resent those journeys. The biggest sin of survival games is reproducing the grind of old MMOs – not through numbers-go-up experience levels, but by making the process of crafting intentionally long-winded. I made a chemistry table for my habitat, determined to figure out how to craft plastic. For this job, it told me, you need Hydrogen gas. Hmmm, I had seen some gas columns rising from a crater on the horizon. I shall go there and investigate. And I’ll bring a gas canister too – that’s forward thinking of me! I am a clever and handsome astronaut. I’m basically Matt Damon.

I trekked to the crater, probably a kilometre and a half in-game, and peeped into the crater bed. There were two trilobite snake baddies lurking in there and I shot them in their heads. I trudged down, filled up the gas tank at a geyser sprouting yellowish hydrogen gas, and boosted out with my jetpack. Mission accomplished. Back in the habitat, the chemistry table told me, well done, Brendan. You have enough here to make one piece of plastic.

I looked at the crafting menus, at all the things requiring 2 or 5 or 10 pieces of plastic, and I nodded. Then I nodded some more. That’s fine. That’s fine. You know what? This game was not going to stop me from building that biodome I want. I went out to the forge and crafted eight empty gas tanks – no small job in itself – and marched straight back out to the geysers.

By this time I had also altered the server settings. I toned down the density of alien creatures, and gave resource deposits bigger yields. Every journey spent dodging animals only increased the sense of grind. Any advantage I could give myself in terms of mining, I took. The thing that was keeping me invested in this inhospitable planet was my home base. You can build biodomes, hallways, solar panels, a barracks, a laboratory, computer desks, 3D printers, oxygenaters, water pumps – and all of them serve some real purpose in terms of your survival. I may have been irritated by the process of building my habitat wall-by-wall, but this also gives you the chance to plan and build your base by connecting portals and airlocks in the places you want, eventually creating a kind of ‘modular’ space outpost. This was what kept me going, the chance to get creative and build a home – not the animals or the mining.

I came back from the geysers with eight gas canisters on my back, all packed to the brim with delicious, explosive hydrogen. It was as much as I could carry without being slowed down by encumbrance (more on that later). I made a bunch of plastic bits and created a fabricator. Happy days, I can definitely make some wires and things now. I’ll have a machine that makes oxygen in the habitat and I won’t have to sleep in the inflatable dome of shame anymore. This is it, this is the future!

We need gold for that, Brendan, said the fabricator menu.

I nodded. I nodded furiously. Fine, if I can’t make wires and things I’m sure I can get to work on the biodome instead. I must have enough plastic left over for that.

We need more plastic for that, Brendan, said the chemistry table.

At this point, I did not nod. I told the game to take a flying leap and turned it off. Maybe my patience for crafting and survival is taking a hit, maybe I am not the survivor I once was. Or perhaps any survival game that ensures you can only build a single thing each time you come ‘home’, from your countless trips of scraping metal off the floor, needs to take a good look at itself in the game design mirror. It’s MMO grind given a new form and it is exhausting. On top of that, the curse of pitiful inventory space of No Man’s Sky seems to have infected this game in the form of encumbrance. Carry too much and you can’t sprint, which makes you never want to go over the limit. Given that most of things you are mining are chunks of heavy metal, you will fill up fast or you will be encumbered a lot. It takes a long time to do anything.

These complaints are a pity, considering how much Osiris has going for it. But they should be easy to tweak and fix (just make deposits more common, or require less for certain items) which would be a huge relief to anyone like me who is otherwise enthralled by the setting. After all, the world is gorgeous – a ringed gas giant hangs in the sky, storms kick up red dust, meteors sometimes rain down from above, a giant sand worm lurks in a notoriously magnesium-rich crater, and nightfall brings with it a deep darkness that is all-encompassing and genuinely nerve wracking. Given the choice between playing more of this or going back into ARK: Survival Evolved, I would still definitely choose the sandstorms and otherworldly vistas of Osiris.

There are other things waiting for those with more patience or friends than me. Keep working up the tech tree and YouTube tells me there are rovers, hover bikes and spaceships to craft. Right now there is only one planet, however, meaning a spaceship can only really take you into orbit to see the planet from above. But future updates are going to let you fly to neighbouring planets, the devs say. That and other future plans make this something to watch. In time I can see it being a decent addition to the genre, a time-dilating planet where players will lose yet more hours of their precious lives. I’m just not sure if its habitable yet.

Osiris: New Dawn is avialable on Steam for £18.99/$24.99. These impressions are based on build 1366441.

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  1. EvilSnake says:

    Well, at least now we know where all the giant worms are. Someone should call Sean Murray!

  2. renzollama says:

    Mmm, I was hoping to hear more about the shooting mechanics/gun-feel and graphics performance. The streams I caught a bit of looked like they were experiencing awful framerates, but sometimes that doesn’t translate well. The guns look great, but if they feel like NMS pea shooters then I probably won’t dig into the game much further as gun combat is the primary thing I’m looking for a developer to nail finally in a survival game.

    • Haltfire302 says:

      The guns currently available are the Assault Rifle and the Pistol. The assault rifle takes ammo in magazines while the pistol is a single-shot, rechargable “bullet.” The assault rifle definitly has some kick to it, and it kills enemies pretty efficiently at the expense of ammo. The pistol does a bit of damage as well, but you have to compensate for the recharge and missing your single shot certainly doesn’t help you.

  3. Henas says:

    I read that this game was made by a dev who ‘hated survival games’. After reading Brendan’s assessment, it sounds as though he’s attempting to make everyone else hate them too.

  4. beamer91 says:

    So i just wanted to clarify that the Thesius Prime is the planet but you are actually on the Third Moon, Proteus 2. And from reading your post I’m not sure if you are aware but you can use the drone to mine for you by looking at it with anything but the multi-tool and hitting h then selecting where you want it to mine once you build a depository. At this time I do not believe there is a way to make more drones but if yours does get blown up you can save and exit then join back it will be back. If you have the multi-tool equipped you can look at the drone and hit f to access its inventory so you can have it follow you and store quite a bit more stuff in it. (beware that the drone does not save its inventory when you get off)I may be wrong but I believe when they make it so you can build storage tanks you will also be able to have the drone get gasses for you.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Ericusson says:

    So it’s a no.
    I mean, it’s a big No when you close the game while testing it and say Hell no.

    No need to sugarcoat it and so on.

  6. j5mello says:

    TLDR: This is game to keep on you wishlist or follow through Steam. It may be one of the better survival games, but its going to take some time to get there.

    Being an early access survival game there isn’t much to do beyond build the various buildings and items that are currently in the game. If you’re okay with that, then like Brendan says, its a gorgeous game and you can grab it now and polish off the build tree in a few days. Several items you can build seem to do nothing, and there isn’t much reason to use any weapon but the pistol as it has infinite ammo.
    The combat is okay, with the monsters giving decent hit reactions from being struck, though their movement animations break rather easily.
    The vehicles are are solid though the bike is your best option as of now; since it has the best speed and same amount of cargo as everything else.

    Biggest issue is that the beautiful vista, is a hand made map, once you have explored that first time to get what you need, its always gonna be the same (excluding Early Access changes).

    • Chaz says:

      How big is the map then? You make it sound like you can whip round and see everything in a couple of sessions.

      It’s definitely one on my Steam wishlist anyway. Once it gets a bit more meat on its bones I might give it a look. But right now I’ve got a whole load of in progress games in my Steam account, don’t really have time for one more.

      • Danarchist says:

        After we built our spaceship one of my buddies decided to fly it around the planet. Outside of about 2.7k its just empty desert. He flew for quite awhile and claimed that the return trip was waaay shorter than the trip out (even though he could have exited to space and come straight back…) so we figured there was some sort of invisible wall or something.

  7. mitthrawnuruodo says:

    Absolutely tired of this genre.

    • Kowie says:

      I like turtles too.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ericusson says:

      Mitthra, I am with you. At the moment I am looking for a game of mindless fun, like a good game of mindless fun.
      To be honest, the only thing I find which fits my criteria (not wildly difficult, fun, with progression, decent graphics and discovery, not punitive) is 3 months of the new Wow.

      I appreciate other experiences and difficult stuff sometimes but this basic game i can grab and play, have fun and be on my way is getting incredibly rare.

      • Thurgret says:

        The average ARPG on a normal difficulty setting?

        • Premium User Badge

          Ericusson says:

          Well the only ARPG worth mentioning this year is Grim Dawn, which I may try once I get my new (WOOOOHHOOOOOOO) laptop. Titan Quest new patch is nice but I have nightmares about my runs to the final boss 10 years ago.

          Anyway, I came back here to tell to no one I found my happiness with Butcher, newly released on steam.
          Check it out you lost reader here.

  8. DailyFrankPeter says:

    That and the fact we haven’t seen much of the multiplayer aspect of the game. I will wait for those videos before even wishlisting it. Experience teaches us things we haven’t seen but only heard of, are usually not there.

    • DailyFrankPeter says:

      Oh, and by the way can anyone tell me why “this game was made by only devs” is an asset these days? Shouldn’t they get bigger with the list of all those expected features growing?

  9. Iamblichos says:

    Sounds an awful lot like Empyrion, circa about a year or so ago. Anyone played both that can comment on the differences?

  10. beamer91 says:

    Empyrion you can dig a hole in the world for ore and customize your ship block by block. In Osiris its prefabs and you find the ore on the surface or in caves and it re-spawns in time.

  11. Alexader says:

    So, reading this article I have to say that you didn’t put enough thought into resource gathering. You mention that you can use your bot to mine. Which is very true and should be taken full advantage of, but there is nothing to say you have to put the depository at your base. He goes to the nearest one. So in order to have him do all your work for you, build a depository at the resource site and set him to mine. Doing this can get you say 300 iron in about 5 minutes of your OMPA mining. Then you go off and adventure, kill mobs find new sights and new rarer resourses while your bot slaves away. When you return, fill up his and your inventory and make a few trips to your nearby base.

    You can completely avoid the grindiness of this survival game by properly utilizing the tools you are given. The games only been out early access for a few days now, but personally I can tell that I am really going to enjoy it.

    • Alexader says:

      Reading back, I realize it was a comment by a user and not the OP that pointed out mining with the bot. I would have to agree with the OP on the grindiness if I didn’t have my little Oompa Loompa slaving away. XD

      • Alexader says:

        “On top of that, the curse of pitiful inventory space of No Man’s Sky seems to have infected this game in the form of encumbrance. Carry too much and you can’t sprint, which makes you never want to go over the limit.”

        I would like to note that this is also a misunderstood Idea, Your first droid, I say first because there are 3 droids slots for your character, has 8 inventory slots with no weight limit. He can easily pack 400 of any resource arround with him at any time. That is of course, before you unlock vehicles. As for storage space in general, just your depositories which you can build for a measly 20 aluminum and 20 iron have about 40 inventory slots. These you can build indefinately, giving you unlimited storage. You can also build Lockers and Storage Crate racks inside of your habitat for storage of items you need for crafting inside of them. Or anything else you would like to put into them.

        Now as for the encumberance, even at 150% of your normal wieght allowance, if you store whatever you are holding you can still sprint/Jetpack and cover a distance of about 500 meters in under a minute.

        • Danarchist says:

          As a side note, there’s a bug I have only seen in multiplayer where if you tap sprint, release, and tap it again you can sprint indefinitely without losing stamina. I can’t get that to work in single player so I am guessing its a server lag thing.

  12. Danarchist says:

    Played the crap out of this over the weekend with a couple buddies. Between the three of us we managed to build everything the game had to offer and left the atmosphere to…well look at the space station, knock on the door, and come back. A bit anti-climatic for the work involved, but interesting in possibility.

    The amount of gas required to make plastic is stupid, we ended up building a habitat with a chemistry bench and storage locker right on the edge of that crater and just crafted 30 or so plastic at a run. Even that was annoying as each piece requires 75 gas, and each can holds 100. I hope they balance that out a bit.

    My biggest complaint is the distance you end up travelling for the higher end stuff. Wait till you have to make your first run to “the cave of shiny” where you mine lithium and diamonds. It’s 2.4k from our pirate base and a major PITA. We ended up slogging 3 droids there and filling them all up with diamonds so we would never have to come back. Oh, one of the droids got perma-stuck in the wall on the way out of the cave, park them outside.

    They need to tone the crafting requirements down, but at least I don’t need to eat every 15 seconds like Ark.

    The one thing that really did turn the game around for me and my friends is when we built G.A.V’s (i think thats the acronym) and went on a rolling bug hunt. The way the ground vehicles feel and handle is excellent and make me look forward to some friendly vehicle on vehicle pvp.

    I will definitely go back after a few content additions, but once you have hovercrafted out to distant resources it is hell going back to slogging on foot. I do not want to start over

  13. CriticalMax says:

    To be fair this game is indeed promissing. It looks good, has a lot of potential for exploration, many planets, constructin survival etc.
    I am quite sad it is not voxel but that’s ok.
    My biggest issue FOR NOW is that it is VERY buggy.
    Not only small cosmetic bugs or missing features, but game breaking bug. Problems with saves etc.
    It is still in alpha si this is to be expected, but I would recommend to wait a little before buying.

    Anyhow, I edited a short video compiling all the bugs and funny moments from my first 9hours of gameplay. It is pretty funny, se be ready to laugh out loud!
    link to

    Subscribe and comment!

    I hope it helps your descision!

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