Skip to content

Next Fest v2: A Climax Of Sorts

Never seen Real Housewives but I hear it's craaaaaayy.

Table of Contents

So, I wanted to dive into the 'Survival Week' thing, hosted by gaming website TheGamer and sponsored by Nightingale. Unfortunately, I ended up babbling too long on the body of this post before I came back up to write the intro- as one does- and decided just to cut this part off entirely. Besides the part I just wrote.

Feel free to hit up their link to read some of the articles on Survival Week, and then discuss it with me in the comments OR (and?) in the community Discord.

On to Next Fest Part 2!

Game: Serum
Pre-Demo: I've loosely followed Serum for a couple of years. The studio developing the game is known as Game Island, Game Island Studios, or Game Island S.A., depending on how they choose to address themselves that day. They were initially making four games simultaneously before tabling the other titles in favor of pushing forward on this one. I'm pretty sure it will play like another spin on the "What if we took Division 2 and Dying Light 2 (read: pretty) and added food and a crafting hammer, and now it's survival" trope. But we shall see!
Post Demo: Everything about that experience was unenjoyable for me. Did anyone else find something about...something weird? I don't know if it was the movement, the camera movement, or what.

At least one random person experienced the same thing!

Overall, it felt like a slick-looking pseudo-exploration game done up in 50 Shades of Dying Light 2: similar UI elements, crafting setup, excessive looting, etc. Just instead of apocalyptic disarray and zombies, it was endless shades of green and mutated critters. However, I'd take combat in Dying Light 1 and 2 versus Serum, which mainly consisted of poking things with a spear while staring at their giant HP bars.
Overall: A 'meh' either way from me; I'd watch your time played if you purchase it in the future.

Game: Winter Survival
Pre-Demo: This will be the third (I think) time that I've given this title a chance to pull me in -and that counts from way back in the day when it was still called Winter Survival Simulator. The previous demo versions made me wonder why the 'simulator' part was ever taken off since it played like a "paint by numbers" experience. Or I guess that would be 'survival by numbers.' The most recent demo version, Winter Survival Prologue, languished at Mixed status for an array of reasons, and I'm interested to see if my issues with the title have been remedied- or it's just the same old- reliant on their sanity mechanic to carry the gameplay.
Post Demo: I would love to look at the internal dialogues/emails between the development team members. I guess I'm just curious because it seems like each time there's a demo- or prologue or whatever- of the game, it goes off into some entirely new path. I found this latest incarnation of the game to be...odd. What is the increased fixation on the (don't recall if it has a name in Winter Survival) usage of this 'Animus Pulse' ability? (Animus Pulse is the ability used in Assassin's Creed games to highlight features and items of interest.) The sheer density of the wolves, with their hypnotically jerky gait, made the gameplay feel like a heavy-handed push toward strife. I did find the direction they're going with the initial menu/onboarding to be a bit interesting- I've always been a fan of the stratification of difficulties in survival titles, and I thought the difficulty (or maybe scenario?) that included being sick at the outset was a cute move. I wonder what the specifics will be for the other options, as they didn't provide any detail in the demo menu screen.
Overall: It's wandered in and out of multiple genres since losing 'Simulator' in the title, but at least it's trying to become genre-specific.

Game: Pacific Drive
Pre-Demo: Surprisingly, I have nothing snarky to say about this title. I mean. I don't know if I believe the survival tag- it seems like it will just be the typical "Try not to die!" gameplay that we've clung to as early as Pac-Man and Super Mario. (Sh, not being snarky.) But the premise for the game seems a bit interesting. At the very least, I want to see if it's worth the "out of the gate at $27 bucks, complete with pre-order and a deluxe edition pre-order" -since lately, it's seemed like confidence has been paired with catastrophe.
Post Demo: I'm glad I got to go hands-on with this title! It's not my game style, and I more than likely won't be picking it up in the future- especially at that price point. But the car emphasis was a neat twist to otherwise standard exploration gameplay. For some reason, I felt some Remnants: From the Ashes vibes to the game- maybe the weird, disjointed nature of the transport through the portals and stuff? Fairly low-key gameplay loop as you cycle out into the world to explore/loot, back to the garage to recharge, repair, and customize -and then out again. My most enjoyable moment was endlessly jumping out of my car to loot or look at something, only to have it roll into me because I never put it in park.
(Or once it rolled away, I had to chase it down.)
Overall: For me, it's a little too much fixation on the vehicle; I far prefer the relevance and freedom of hand-built structures in other games. But I think it's worth checking out.

Game: Last Whisper Survival
Pre-Demo: I know, I know. Apoc zombie survival game, how unique and barely ever done or talked about or dreamed of! I figure it's like trying out hundreds of donuts for research. They are pretty much all the same in practice, but sometimes, they have neat quirks that surprise you.
(And then you retreat to plain old white powdered sugar because it is the best.)
Post Demo:
As the husband part of a husband-wife team that's hoping to make something eventually, I'm rooting for their success. As a gamer who jumped into the demo to check it out - I did not have a good time at all because so much of it was awkward and offputting. Mobs porting around, excessive loot with ODD placement, glitchy combat, etc.
Overall: I would not be able to put money into the title until I saw some aspects get overhauled- or maybe if there was a detailed (as in timing AND content) short-term actionable roadmap released?

Game: SoulMask
Pre-Demo: Honestly, no idea. There's a decided glut of game demos this Fest that are seemingly marked survival just because they have zombies- so it's nice to see something different. I'm not very big into the "shepherd and care for your little followers" type deal - MMOs with pets or companions have broken me deep inside when it comes to safeguarding broken NPCs- but overall, the images and footage look good. (Honestly, it seems like an open-world RPG/adventure, but who am I to argue with Steam tags, which are all-knowing??)
Post Demo: My wife has been spending a lot of time in UE5 and UE5 classes, and the entire time I was live streaming this, she was super bothered by how the game handled the foliage. It was pretty funny. Anyway! This may (eventually) be something for folks who enjoy Valheim and Conan Exiles - it has that kind of superficial MMO or RPG vibe to it, and there are some progression/point trees to strive toward. I mainly sprinted (endlessly) around, throwing myself off mountains for minimal damage and smacking tapirs with spears.
Overall: Maybe check it out and watch your time played? I know some reviewers were enamored with it.

While it's not survival, the only other game I managed to squeeze in last week was a stint in Ubisoft's Skull and Bones free gameplay weekend. What a fucking disappointment.


Pew, Pew indeed.