NEO Scavenger is a turn based role playing game by the aptly named Blue Bottle games. In this title, you wake up from cryosleep with the sound of some beast about to tear into the room where you slept. Shaking off the daze, you have different options on how to proceed based on how you created your character at the start of the game.
The writing in the game is excellent. I have been guilty of clicking through encounters in games such as Faster Than Light or Fallout 3, especially if I have seen the dialogue before. I have spent time rereading even the introductory dialogue, as it is very well written.
The history of the world, and the many mysteries- such as who are the telepaths infiltrating the post-apocalyptic society, and who has created the monstrous half-men half-animals roaming the landscape- are given in small tid bits, and can actually be very difficult to discover.
The game is very unforgiving; if you do not finding clothing, you can get sick and die, as your hospital gown is not exactly protective and you are barefoot.
The combat is challenging, especially if you don’t take perks that aid you in combat. If you think through your actions carefully, however, it can be an extremely rewarding experience. After your encounter with the half-breed at the start, you enter the game proper, shown below.
The art style I would describe as functional. Everything is shown in precisely as much detail as is needed to understand its use. The inventory system and combat are reminiscent of old school RPGs and survival games, with juggling items until you can find an efficient way to store everything.
Finding a cart or sleigh early on will greatly increase your carrying capacity, though it will slow you down and will be a hindrance in combat if not abandoned and later re-equipped. Ranged weapons, such as a sling, can be extremely effective; damage is modeled ‘realistically,’ with damage to different parts of the body causing pain and shock.
There is no imagery for fighting, the descriptions come from combat logs at the bottom of the screen. Though this is a very simple style, it is surprisingly effective for bringing the point home; my imagination fills in the blanks, with the image of a barefoot muscled macho man in a hospital gown and no shoes running screaming at his opponents firing rocks out of a slingshot.
This would be difficult to recreate in a game; some have attempted it, but they do not do the scene as much justice as my imagination. So I will use the old saying, “It’s not a bug, It’s a feature.” And an effective one at that.
After some completely justified second degree murdering, I was equipped with a rifle with no ammo (which is a useful melee weapon, as the rifle butt packs a punch,) a hoodie, some sneakers, and, treasure of all treasures, pants. Pants, shopping bags, backpacks and especially vehicles are the best friends of a person in the wastes with pack rat like tendencies.
The kleptomania of many gamers will serve them well in this game, as selling items can lead to useful upgrades in the dystopian megacity of Detroit- once you find it, fairly early in the game.
I have spent countless hours roaming the wastes of NEO Scavenger, dying, and starting a new character. Over this time, I have gathered scraps of history and the current state of the world. The game continues to surprise me, and continues to improve. It is a stellar example of simple graphics, well timed sound and music design, and good storytelling being used to make a very compelling game.
Personal Game Scoring System:
(Scale of 1-5, one being a hot mess and 5 being amazingly well done)
Update Schedule: 3.5
Joy at Finding Pants: 5
Hi! I am Eugene Shenderov, and I am a starting game designer. You can find my website at www.thisandthatgames.com. Send me a message if you have any questions!
Have a great day!