I rarely get close to being Liam Neeson from The Grey. More recently, my chance came when the Beast from the East 2 struck the UK. Even so, the closest I came to starving or dying of thirst was when I ran out of Doritos, and my beer supply ran worryingly low. Death was also never an issue, though it was a close-run thing when one of my kids kicked me in the balls. This all changed the moment I installed The Wild Eight. It’s a delightfully dark survival game based around the wintry tundra of the Alaskan plains.
Developed by Fntastic and published by Hypetrain Digital, this survival game has you running across miles of snowy procedurally generated lands. A remarkably accessible game that offers a brutal experience with a relatively gentle learning curve for the genre. Death will certainly happen, but you have a fighting chance of preventing it, even if you are new to the game.
Few stats to manage, but it keeps you thinking.
Unlike a lot of its peers, The Wild Eight has kept its character survival stats to a bare minimum. This is great if you are new to the genre, or if you simply dislike micromanaging a virtual person’s life. You must focus on; health, food and temperature, and that’s it. And keeping each one topped up is as straightforward as it should be. Suddenly cold? Build a fire, find shelter or chuck some wood in your furnace. Hungry? Go foraging, beat to death a wild animal, or eat the remains of yourself (this happens more often than I care to think about). Low on health? Medikits, bandages or sleep. This is surviving all wrapped up for you!
If only it were that simple. After you come around from your plane crash (original I know), and you’ve escaped the many wolves roaming around (Liam Neeson’s, The Grey *cough cough*), there is plenty for you to do. You will; explore bunkers, search warehouses, follow electrical lines for miles, and more. Each lead to different quests and objectives. It was a great way to progress the story and ensure that you ventured far from the safety of your snowy base.
Wolves and character progression.
You will want to stay close to home as the army of never-ending wolves hunt you relentlessly. These evil menaces love nothing more than to rip your throat out, leaving your remains strewn across the snowy ground. This is frustrating, annoying, but not the end of the world if you play on the easy setting. Respawn, retrace your steps and collect all your goods. Just make sure Mr Wolf doesn’t kill you again.
One way to ensure these furry hell hounds are less of a problem is to level yourself and all your buildings up. Fntastic balanced this just right. No matter how much you try, you can’t steamroller your way through the skill trees. Items must be collected, hunted or made, it’s slow progress, but it’s rewarding and challenging, just how a survival title should be.
Improving your buildings leads to new items and environmental boosts. Your basic shelter turns into a warm haven, and your workshop transforms into a place to get top tools and weapons to battle the elements and the wildlife. It’s brilliantly balanced and keeps the action pushing you to the end.
Filled with despair and a small ray of hope.
It’s incredible when a developer transports you to their creation with some emotive audio and great art style. From the off, you are sucked into this world of despair and sorrow. The vast emptiness and a sense of loss are at odds with the beauty of the surrounding scene. A blanket of untouched pure white snow lies before you. If it wasn’t for the situation you find yourself in, you’d be in awe of your new-found surroundings.
Playing out from a bird’s-eye perspective, this simple cartoon style title will suck you in with its easy on the eye and no-nonsense approach. The grid-like map is easy to navigate as your field of view is large. Character models are basic but detailed enough, and the use of cold tones emphasise the icy bleak world you now live in.
The audio complements this perfectly. A sad minor toned audio plays out quietly in the background. It allows the sound effects of the eerie howling wind, the crunch of feet in the snow, and the padding of animal feet to sound over it. Like the graphics, it’s not complicated or triple-A-rated, but its simplicity works brilliantly in this setting and is thoroughly enjoyable, if not a tiny bit depressing.
Unfortunately, Fntastic didn’t get everything right with their port to console. This is noticeable in the clunky and clumsy control system. Though the UI is well designed, and lends itself to easy navigation, you still press the wrong buttons repeatedly. When time is of the essence, and your stats are ticking down, you don’t want to die because of the control setup, but you will, and you do, all the time. Without a doubt, this would handle better on a PC. The UI lends itself to the use of keyboard and mouse over controller, and though it’s serviceable, it’s frustrating.
With several difficulties to choose between, a procedurally generated map, and different approaches being offered to succeed, this oozes replay value. A challenging achievement list ensures that would-be completionists must play through every portion of this to get their 100% status. This is one survival game that will keep you coming back for more.
More than you’d expect.
When I first saw this advertised, I was sure that it would be “just” another survival game, but yet it surprised me. With its generous difficulty curve, glorious aesthetics and ample replay value, it will test newbies and veterans of the genre. I enjoyed how the developers dipped their toes into the world of surreal and fantasy alongside their realistic survival mechanics. I won’t spoil it for you, but you will find some joyous and brutal surprises during your time in Alaska. Do I recommend it? Absolutely! It’s a cracking example of a survival game and can be purchased here! Do you have what it takes to venture into the snowy tundra and come out stronger on the other side? Plenty of ice, wolves, and mysteries lie ahead for those who take on The Wild Eight.