Yesterday I played NEO Scavenger for the 10th day of the Steam Backlog Death March I mean Bonanza. It was released in 2014, and I bought it in 2016 for $5. (Coincidentally it’s actually on sale today for less than that.)
I goofed with this one. I have, in fact, played it before. But for some reason, Steam didn’t think I had. I know I played it because I found a video I recorded of it in 2016. Of course I didn’t remember a single second of it, but the game looked vaguely familiar when I played it, and that explains why.
Anyway, this is one of the many Steam games that appeared during The Great Survival Game Explosion of 2016. Basically every new game on the market around that time was some variant of a survival game, and this one is no exception. It’s actually a Flash game. It’s made by the same people who made Project Zomboid, which is another game I happen to have played for about an hour.
NEO Scavenger is an odd throwback to a simpler time when computers didn’t have graphics. It’s a hybrid text/adventure/strategy sort of game, that looks like something you’d find running on a Commodore 64 or an Apple IIe. It’s hard to describe, because I can’t think of any other game that plays like it. Similar games would be twenty or thirty or forty years old by now and who can even remember games that old.
It’s almost like a tabletop role-playing game, in a way. The game describes the scene to you in a way that sounds a lot like a Dungeon Master, and then you decide what you want to do on your turn, using a very simplistic set of actions based on your character traits. If your character has “Hiding” skill, for example, you can “hide” when you hear a monster bashing around at the door. I started in a cryosleep facility, and then ventured out into the world after avoiding a hostile creature.
The basic goal seems to be to move around a hexagonal map, exploring the contents of each hex (ie. buildings), scavenging for supplies so you don’t die. I don’t know if there is a destination you’re supposed to reach or not. I don’t think I was ever told about one. I scavenged up a shirt and pants and a few trinkets from a few buildings, then after about 40 minutes I ran into a pair of feral dogs that killed me in a combat system that was extremely reminiscent of a tabletop RPG.
It’s a largely text-based visual game, with very little in the way of sound. A vivid imagination is a requirement for playing. It’s a quirky little game, and I can’t quite figure out if it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen, or a genius-level role-playing experience. But it doesn’t feel like the kind of game that you would play too many times in a row.
Will I play more? Possibly, but probably not. It’s a whole lot of reading, and while it’s fun to read out loud and “perform” on a video recording, it’s not terribly fun to just sit and read text in a game by yourself. It’s a game that might be better suited to mobile or a tablet.
Stream Production Notes: I rather enjoyed reading the game’s text out loud. This is a thing that I have only discovered in the last three or four years that I like doing. For most of my life, I’ve admired people who can read or tell stories out loud, never having much of any opportunity or occasion to do it myself.
It’s one of several things I like about making game videos, besides simply archiving the game so I don’t have to play it again. :) It’s a chance to practice this obscure human life skill that nobody ever teaches you how to do. So yeah, if you ever watch my videos, I’m going to be reading all the text out loud whenever I get a chance, because it’s almost more fun than playing the game for me.
The video file for this stream was incredibly small, which is indicative of how little graphics were in the game. :)
Previously on the Steam Backlog Bonanza: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit.