To Buy, Or Not To Buy, That Is The Question...

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To Buy, Or Not To Buy, That Is The Question...


I've played the demo a long long time ago, possibly some time early last year, and decided to revisit because frankly the game didn't have much at that stage, and I wasn't overly impressed by the demo, although I did like the general concept and gameplay, just there wasn't enough there to entice me in.

Now, I'm a big survival buff. I love survival games, Unreal World being one of my favorites and a game I consider to be the best in the series of survival games. However Neoscavenger was a more modern take on it. It reminded me of Wasteland/Fallout, but with improved elements.

What I didn't like was the impression that the game world in Neo was relatively small, and the creature content extremely limited to simply bandit/dogmen, and the interaction/looting wasn't that overly impressive.

After catching up on the blog posts, I can see a lot of stuff has been added. New looting/scavenging mechanics and crafting, along with a city I believe, quests and that...

So what I want to know is, how in-depth has the gameplay gotten? Is the world of Neoscavenger big/bigger? Is there much to do? Has it become linear with the quests or is it open-ended? Has it become more pure survival or is it simply a scavenging simulator? Essentially I'm asking for an honest non-biased review of the game because the demo left a bad impression (not too bad though).

Buy. That is the only logical answer. Evidence: The game is only going to get BETTER. Dan is working day and night to improve the game and give us what we want to see in the game (withing reason, and as long as it flows with his vision of the game). I bought it for $10, and I only wish I could have payed 25! So anyways, BUY it. The money you pay to Dan will help him improve the game, and in the long run, satisfy your seemingly endless lust for survival games :D. Oh, and this is from personal experience(Non-biased)

Pretty much all of what the guy above me said that and the game has gotten bigger and the next update is going to have a BUNCH of new times including more guns, batterys, a new vehicle, and BOWS :D

Official Trained Dogman

To be honest, it's really hard to give you any advice mate, because of how vague you are on what you didn't liked in the demo and what do you want to see. But I'll try:

First off, try the current demo build, it is upgraded simultaneously with beta-build and shows all the basic mechanics (if you still have the old one try re-plying it first to see how much have changed).

how in-depth has the gameplay gotten? / Is there much to do?

Full game have main story, many (around 15 I guess) random encounters (depending on your game length, 1-4 will happen during each game-through) as well as 3 bigger, location based ones. During each gameplay one of those is randomly chosen to involve additional, deeper branch with possibility of special items and additional game-world lore, as well as a new gruesome way to die, to be discovered. The Detroit Mega-city can be entered now, and offers additional goal to work towards, if you wish, as well.

Has it become more pure survival or is it simply a scavenging simulator?

That honestly depends on what you think survival game and scavenging simulation are. You have to scavenge and mechanics are as item-driven as before, so of course the game (as it's name suggests :D) have a lot of scavenging involved.

However, keeping track of nourishment/hydration levels as well as outside and body temperature are present (you can freeze to death running around in your undies). You need to tend your wounds and boil your water before drinking to avoid cholera. You can get poisoned by eating unknown mushrooms or berries. Those are purely survival elements. Is it enough for you? As I said before, try out new demo - all those mechanics are present for you to test.

Is the world of Neoscavenger big/bigger? Is there much to do? Has it become linear with the quests or is it open-ended?

This is a main problem you have to consider when deciding if buy the game or not: while you will find a lot more in it than year ago, the game is still not finished - most of the map have nothing special on it (just random generated tiles) and story ends abruptly after you enter the city (so no "end game" technically, other than death). City itself, said to house many millions of people, have only two facilities inside. However, you can still play "How long will I survive" game almost to endless extent.

If you observe this site a little, especially the "News" section, you will find that Dan works on/adds new stuff all the time and reports/comments on his works on almost daily basis. And that promises that new stuff will show up eventually (some new items and re-done combat system coming our way right now). But then, an understanding is needed that there is just so much one man can do.
This is a game-making model in which, if you like what you see and where it is going, by buying unfinished game you support the very creation process.

In my opinion it is completely worth those $10, if only to see how this game grows and evolves. After some playing and knowing NS better, I am really unhappy because I did not buy $25 version from the start. However this is a unfinished game with steep learning curve, so test it first to avoid disappointment. Thanks to Dan, the demo is up-to-date with basic features so, if you want to wait a little before buying or don't like something, return in 2-3 months and test a new build - maybe it'll be more to your liking then.

Hope that helps.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Well, as the developer, I'm hardly unbiased. However, I'm a terrible salesman, for what that's worth :)

Depending on when you last checked-in, the game may have evolved quite a bit since your last visit. Compared with March 2012's launch version, the latest build (0.971) has:

  • Revamped combat system - Previously, one would stand in adjoining hexes and trade blows until someone dies. Now, there is a broader vocabulary of moves with which to conduct a battle (such as tackling, parrying, tripping, kicking, threatening, etc.). Battles have their own UI now, and include multiple combatants, instead of one per hex.
  • Wound system - Along with the battle upgrades, creatures now have more complex wound simulation. Instead of the old "barely scratched->mortally wounded" scale, wounds are now per-body part, and can be a mix of cut and blunt damage. Treatment of wounds involves addressing bleeding, pain, and infection, each of which can severely hamper a creature if unattended.
  • Crafting overhaul - Crafting now has its own UI, and uses a property-based system, rather than name-based system. That means that one ingredient can be substituted for another, if the properties are similar enough. This way, players are better able to exercise creativity when crafting (e.g. use a torch to light a fire instead of a lighter, or plastic bags to make a splint, instead of just rags).
  • Save games - Early versions of NEO Scavenger had no save functionality. Now, one gets a single save slot. It is deleted, though, when the player dies (i.e. permadeath).
  • Bigger fonts/resolutions - One can now play the game with bigger resolutions and fonts, which some find easier on the eyes.
  • More encounters - There are a handful of new places to discover and navigate, similar to the cryo facility or Hatter encounters in complexity. There are several dozen random mini-encounters as well.
  • The DMC - Detroit is now accessible, and has a couple places to visit for food and healthcare.
  • Soundtrack - The game has quite a few music tracks contributed by Josh Culler, which periodically play during the game.
  • Campsites - Each hex now supports one or more campsites, which offer varying amounts of shelter, concealment, comfort, and room to stash stuff. Campsites also offer a means to stay out of sight from wandering creatures, provided the campsite has a concealment benefit (e.g. forests).
  • Travel metagame - The hex map now has hiding, covering tracks, spying, and running, which offer a few new tools for avoiding (or following) creatures.

As for some of your specific questions:

How big is NEO Scavenger's game world?

This hasn't changed. NEO Scavenger's boundaries are Michigan's lower peninsula, and will likely remain that way. I'd like to have a greater world, but realistically, Michigan is a tall order to populate. So I'm sticking with that. The demo is still limited in area to a subsection of Michigan. If NEO Scavenger is successful enough to fund a sequel, I'd like to explore other areas, though.

How many creatures are there?

Previously, it was just dogmen, bandits, looters, and raiders. Three new creatures have been added since then, and there are a couple others I'd like to try if time permits. Creatures now have regional homes, so what you find will vary based on where you are. Creatures also have some new behaviors since last March, including pack behavior, looting, and morale.

How much NPC interaction is there?

Creatures are still pretty thin, interaction-wise. One can game their morale a bit, and sometimes scare off would-be attackers. And the upcoming build will have surrender options in combat. But actual conversation is limited to encounters like the Hatter one, and there are only a few like that at the moment.

How much looting interaction is there?

I don't think this has changed much, if at all, since you last visited. Looting is still about scavenging ruins using tools on-hand. A few changes were added to make accidents less wildly fatal, but it's still a matter of balancing loot vs. safety vs. attracting creatures. I'm not planning any changes here, though I'll admit it isn't the perfect system.

Is NEO Scavenger linear?

No. This is actually something I'm striving to avoid. There may be events and encounters that work well in certain orders, but I don't want to railroad players down a certain path. NEO Scavenger is intended to be enjoyed at whatever pace, and in whatever order players want. I'm trying to build story elements in such a way that the player is uncovering clues and history with each quest. Ideally, any order of discovery should be viable, though some paths may close based on player actions.

Is it pure survival or scavenging simulator?

I'm not sure, actually. I like to think one has to work to survive (avoiding/mitigating creatures, managing resources, tending wounds, and using tools to get by), but scavenging is a big part of it (especially repurposing junk into useful stuff). One thing I can say is that the game probably won't have any homesteading system, as it tends to be more nomadic in nature. So there probably won't be much farming, running a store, or other permanent establishments. It'd be cool to have, but more than I can manage at the moment.

The demo is fairly up-to-date with the new features and such. As said before, the demo has a limited area, and few encounters. However, you'll get an idea for how the core mechanics have evolved. Then, based on that assessment, I'd ask myself whether I would be satisfied with those same mechanics plus more encounters, items, and a few other bits of content (like combat moves, or creatures). At this point, I'm mostly working on adding content like that.

If you feel an important system is missing for your enjoyment, it might be better to wait. My biggest remaining priority is to start filling in more story stuff, items, and other content, so new system development may not happen until a sequel.

That said, there are some types of content which can have big impacts on existing systems. E.g. if I add friendly creatures, they would change the way map travel feels, since they could affect how hostiles move. Or new combat moves, like the surrender moves I'm working on, could change the way combat gets resolved.

Hopefully, that helps answer some of your questions. Again, the demo is the best place to make an informed judgement. The main thing it lacks vs. the beta is complete map access, extra items/encounters, save games, soundtrack, the DMC, and junk market. And going forward, the content gap is the main thing that will grow wider between the two.

Good luck!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Cheers for the feedback all, and thanks Dan for personally answering some of my questions.

I shall bite the bullet and get myself a copy :)