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."