We’re sure living in interesting times right now, what with Australia being on fire, half of China being quarantined, and the UK’s wheelie bins being battered by Storm Ciara. So, why not cheer ourselves up with Survive The Blackout, an indie title that meshes a walking simulator with a classic, pixel graphic, point and click game where you regularly have to choose between watching your party members drop dead or robbing the elderly for food.
Please don’t think I’m a terrible person when I say I really enjoyed playing it.
Launching on Steam on February 6, Survive The Blackout has you lead a team of survivors towards a mountain known as “The Light,” after all the world’s electronics stopped working at once.
With bleak, hazardous roads and dangerous cities lying ahead, you have to lead a team of three to the mountain, keeping your bodies and souls alive along the way.
It’s inevitably going to draw comparisons to This War of Mine but thankfully it’s not that bleak, yet there’s plenty of disturbing moments and pixellated hanging bodies to give a sense of hopelessness and humanity gone feral.
The gameplay is very simple.
Your three survivors hike through the unforgiving scenery and have to respond to the various chance cards that frequently pop up. Some of this will be exploring buildings in the hope of finding supplies, others will be fighting off bandits, and there are encounters with other humans that can quite easily be friend or foe.
The game utilises RNG (or random number generator) meaning no two playthroughs are exactly the same. You won’t get the same scenarios and your party is picked at random, and finding food and medicine is mildly stressful at best.
I actually quite liked this aspect; some characters will get you further than others depending on their skill-set, and just because you have one trash playthrough doesn’t mean you’re bad at the game.
The exploration part is again incredibly simplistic; you click the magnifying glass to see what that place is hiding, or the door icon to get into another room and search. However, the more you click about, the more your Danger Level meter goes up, risking the chance of your party getting attacked. You’ll then have to balance the risk of searching an entire house for a morsel of food and losing health, or pressing on and starving to death.
Once again, this is where the RNG factor comes into play.
You have four stats to juggle; Health, Stamina, Energy, and Morale, and it swiftly becomes a difficult balance to maintain. I was a little shaken when I realised I was considering letting one of my party die because they were already much lower on Stamina than the others, and that one scrap of food I had wasn’t going to save them.
As resources are so scarce, it’s hard to decide what to do when meeting others on the road – do you give them the help they so desperately need, or attack the most vulnerable ones because your group is starving to death?
It’s a tricky one, and thanks to the random aspect of it, no two playthroughs are the same. With up to six characters to choose from, each of whom have unique scenario actions, multiple endings, and the chance of random items spawning that can pull you out of a bad situation, it encourages replay value and allows you to relax and enjoy yourself. Being skillful doesn’t really matter, because it’s all up to the throw of the dice.
Honestly, for £6.99, this game is a steal.
It revels in its minimalism and uses it to its advantage; there might not be time for detailed character development, but it’s shown through their reactions to scenarios and the brief conversations with each other. It’s a grim premise with a unique take on things which made me invested enough that I was seriously getting stressed as my character’s Stamina meter dipped lower and lower.
Sure, there’s a few spelling and grammar errors here and there, but in the grand scheme of things Survive The Blackout is a great idea and fun to play – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it enough.
PS – you can pet a farmer’s dog at one point.
10/10 even though I’d robbed a diabetic of his food five minutes earlier.
Author’s Note: This code was given to us by the developers, in exchange for a fair review. We always strive to be objective and to give honest opinions and recommendations to our readers.