There’s an animal in all of us. A fierce beast who stalks the wilds and takes orders from nobody. Mine’s a budgerigar. But maybe you got something better. If not, here’s a free game that let’s you become a big, wild cat in a strange and alien forest. In FERAL [official site], you skulk around, listening for sounds and sniffing for deer poo – all to get meat for your cubs and become a better hunter by unlocking new abilities along the way with skill points. Just like a real predator. Come see the trailer below.
I’ve only played a few minutes of it. You hold down one button to listen for sounds in the distance (important side note: you need an Xbox controller) and follow highlighted trails of footprints and dung. When you are close to your quarry, crouch down and creep forward, then lurch out into a sprint and pounce on the prey. It does a good job of making the wildlife react realistically. The alien deer will stop eating and listen with ears perked (some yellow warning lines will let you know they are being cautious) and some plants even react to the presence of nearby animals, tucking themselves in when the creatures come close.
It’s an impressive wildlife ditty from a crowd of students at French videogame school, Supinfogame Rubika, who also recently came out with the good-looking Quur. As for the hunting, it’s quite smartly made. Your own sprint is not as fast as your prey’s and you run out of stamina a lot faster than they will, reflecting big cat problems in reality. But the footprints will always let you track the animal down eventually, allowing you to try another ambush. It’s also a lush and colourful environment, with a lot of flora and narrow rock passages and luminescent mushrooms and strange blob-headed things. That trailer also suggests there is something else in the forest, a beast that will hunt you in turn. Although I didn’t meet that sucker.
I like the idea of non-human protagonists in first-person games. Project Wight is also getting in on this type of action, for example, with a mythical creature that is being threatened with extinction by filthy vikings. I was not a fan of the PlayStation’s Tokyo Jungle, which was too full of meters and annoyances to be truly animalistic. This is much more my cup of tea, speaking as a ferocious budgerigar. You can download it for free on itch.io.