Beyond Despair might scratch that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. itch

Any game that reminds me of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is welcome to take up a little of my time. I only wish there were more of them. Like Jim, who once wrote of such matters in this parish but now toils in the development mines, I’m sometimes baffled and dismayed when I realise how rare it is to see traces of GSC’s influence in modern design. Beyond Despair [official site] is a multiplayer horror game and that description led me to expect something along the lines of asymmetrical slasher sim Dead by Daylight, but it all looks very S.T.A.L.K.E.R like, from the anomalies to the behaviour of creatures, as well as the gloomy mood and aesthetic. It’s coming to Early Access this month and you can see it in action below.

Do I wish this were a singleplayer game, or that it had a clearly defined singleplayer mode? Yes I do. I’d always like the option to play alone and that might indeed by possible. Servers support up to 14 players but given that there are plenty of NPCs and mysteries to solve, it doesn’t sound like the thrust of the game is competitive multiplayer. In fact, given how terrible the world looks, I’d imagine players will be sticking together and trying to look out for one another.

Beyond Despair is primarily a living world that has had and still has its own history. Through notes, diaries and audio the player can learn the plot and useful skills that can help you to better understand the events of the game.

What I find exciting is that this is a game clearly interested in making players feel as if they are intruding in a place already inhabited. The creatures that live there look like they belong, like they have their own little patches of shadow to protect and to live in. For me, the true S.T.A.L.K.E.R. experience is about observation as much as interaction: can I watch creatures interacting with one another from a distance? Can I be convinced that the place continues to exist when I’m not looking directly at it?

Beyond Despair looks like a place I’d very much like to explore, tentatively, and if it’s even half as convincing as I hope it might be, I’ll be glad to visit.

If you fancy watching a whole lot of wandering with occasional encounters, here’s a big ol’ stream of a recent alpha build.

From this site

24 Comments

  1. frightlever says:

    “In fact, given how terrible the world looks, I’d imagine players will be sticking together and trying to look out for one another”

    Priceless.

    Also in Early Access is Escape from Tarkov, though that appears to be strictly PvP, without the supernatural elements.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Indeed. EFT looks amazing. Can’t wait to play it.

      • SIDD says:

        +1..
        EfT look amazing…However Beyond Despair looks like something a mutant in STALKER ate and regurgitated at best

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        My roommate and I thought the same thing, he got it when it was on sale this holiday. It was… very disappointing. It’s quite pretty, and the gun building/customization system is both in-depth and surprisingly accurate to how real firearms work. Beyond that, there’s not much to recommend. You play deathmatch in a small arena either against other players or bots who have unapologetically perfect aim. Your inventory is persistent and costs quite a lot of money, so the vast majority of the time you go out to actually play the game, you’re going to wind up losing equipment, which seems to be designed to make you need to continue paying cash if you want to have more than a makarov against people with AKs and ARs.

        • frightlever says:

          You can even see from Frankie’s stream that it’s not remotely optimised and the AI is pretty braindead, but it is only in Alpha so your roommate might get his money’s worth from it yet.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Jdopus says:

    I have to say, it doesn’t look at all like Stalker in any of the ways that made Stalker a great game. It looks very much like a generic survival game with generic survival mechanics and a fairly interesting art style.

    The tech-demo creature really didn’t look very stalkerish as it rushed up into the players face and traded melee blows. Not sure where the author sees the comparison.

    • sp0q says:

      Yep, don’t feel the stalker vibe either. It looks more like Fallout if anything and that’s as far from stalker as you can get :P
      Escape from Tarkov seems to be the new ‘stalker-y’ game, even with no mutants nor anomalies.

  3. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    If you want a Stalker-y feeling, just go stand in the drizzle for twelve hours, whilst eating cold baked beans and regularly irradiating yourself.

    • caff says:

      Then smack yourself in the face repeatedly with a copy of “One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” whilst gently humming 19th century Russian military songs.

  4. neofit says:

    “In fact, given how terrible the world looks, I’d imagine players will be sticking together and trying to look out for one another.”
    Sure, looking out for one another is exactly what happens on the internets, on every public server.

    In my book, SP is the staple of a proper Stalker-y experience. Remove that and, as been said above, it’s just yet another post-apoc gankfest.

    • BeyondDespair says:

      You can play solo, nobody said it’s an online only game.

  5. CartonofMilk says:

    I never played any other but the original Stalker was a hot piece of broken garbage. Underdelivering too for anyone that had followed the development. I think this is in the top 5 most disappointing games of the 00’s for me. The no man’s sky of its time. But i have to assume most who enjoyed it had not been following its development, so many features mentioned in previews were not in the game or if they were they were underwhelming and not of the scope mentioned. I’ll still never understand why this game didn’t get buried by the press and public. I played it through somehow all the while thinking “why am i doing this to myself?” but like a bad film i had to see just how terrible it was.

    I’m sorry for all this negativity, i just still get hot whenever Stalker is mentioned.

    • Vivian says:

      Carton, if you’re even vaguely curious as to what it could/should have been like, try out the OGSE mod. It’s free and standalone, and it’s rad (ioactive).

    • Congo says:

      STALKER series are some of my all time favorite games. I beat all of them except for the last one to come out. They may have bugs, but damn those games really hit the spot for me. I hated the original one the first time I played it, but I soon realized what an amazing gem it was. I guess it may just not be for everyone. I have never gotten so into the world as I have in stalker. I remember the feeling of attachment that I got to weapons that I had collected over time, they were like prized possessions.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Ah yes, those Stalker previews. I remember reading them and thinking “well that’s never going to make the full game”. To be honest, I was impressed they managed to release a game that even resembled those first versions. When a game company started talking about massive environments full of AI-controlled wildlife in 2001 most people took it with a hefty pinch of salt.

    • caff says:

      You should have played Call of Pripyat. For me, it was the defining version of Stalker (slightly better than the original) and had some stand-out moments.

    • malkav11 says:

      Previews are a menace. I guess it’s sad that they didn’t hit whatever marks they promised but the game they ended up with, with patches, is one of the best shooters ever made and one of my top games of all time. And pre-release hype should never be allowed to spoil that actual accomplishment.

  6. zeep says:

    This game looks nothing like STALKER.

  7. Legion1183 says:

    Meh, generic and really boring looking… I don’t really see the Stalker resemblance either, sorry :/

  8. BeyondDespair says:

    Hello, I’m Nick. You can hear me on the second video.

    First of all we do like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and it had great influence on players in our region. But we didn’t try to make a clone of stalker, although there are some elements with a new take on them.

    The game can be played solo and on player hosted servers. There is a first chapter of the story in the game, full story will be available at full release.

    The first video is very old and this week there will be a new trailer ready.

    And one last thing, we are looking for beta testers, if you are interested please send an email to romanov@pixelmate.ru with your computer specs or join our link to discord.gg . Always happy to answer your qestions.

  9. ZIGS says:

    Beyond Despair might scratch that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. itch

    Beyond Despair [official site] is a multiplayer horror game

    Is this a fucking joke?

  10. BeyondDespair says:

    Hello, I’m Nick, you can hear me on the second video.

    We do like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and it had great influence on all players in our region. But we are not making a clone. Players will be able to play alone or with friends on private servers. There is a main story, the first chapter will be available at the start of the Early Access.

    The first video is very old and we are getting ready a new one as a trailer for the game.

    If you want to try the game then join our closed beta. Send an email to romanov@pixelmate.ru with your specs.

    • frightlever says:

      If the solo play in meaningful then I’m VERY interested.

  11. vahnn says:

    The art style looks pretty dece, but sweet lord that combat looked just awful and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.