Gamers, more or less, fall into one of two categories. There are those who want to kick back and enjoy a relaxing or gratifying experience. And then there are the ones who – consciously or not – absolutely enjoy stressing themselves out and getting nothing out of it. Given I have spent a shameful number of hours playing DotA 2, I know just which camp I’m in. So, when I saw Remnants – a survival horror sandbox game – I knew I had to give it a shot. In my last review of Airport CEO I took on a game that is stressful by proxy, but this time I face the beast head-on. In this Remnants review, I take you through how I stressed myself having “fun” with a new game.
Remnants Review: What Is Remnants?
Remnants is an interesting game (that’s available on steam!), but luckily it is not hard to describe. In the simplest terms, Remnants is a survival game where you fight starvation, radiation, dehydration, and crazy mutant people while also fending off up to 29 more players with questionable motives.
If you are looking for a parallel, this game will resonate really well with legacy Rust players. It is also similar to the early days of DayZ. There are a lot of these craft-fight-build survival games. So, in this Remnants review, I’m going to assume you have seen at least any 1 of these titles in action.
Gameplay: A Different Take On Survival Games
It’s important to note that Remnants is still in early access. In this Remnants review I’ll try to make a distinction about what I don’t like about the game and what is just not complete yet.
With that out of the way, starting a Remnants game is easy. You simply join any of many publicly hosted servers or you host your own. You’ll land in the game (to no one’s surprise) naked with only a torch, a big rock, and bandages. You start at the bottom and eventually gather resources and craft your way up to become a raid boss.
That’s if you manage it, anyway. So far, it’s all that standard formula. However, as you progress you start to realize how the game mechanics make this survival title fundamentally different. First of all, for a stressful experience, Remnants gives you a fairly easy time. The game is surprisingly slow-paced – and that’s not a bad thing. Days are long and give you ample time to make progress. But so are nights. Nights are really dark and long. There is no make-believe here, if you haven’t done your job during the day you might just starve or freeze to death.
For a game in early access, Remnants had a lot of good ideas that made me reconsider the Survival formula. For instance, 30 people in a single map is great but not ground breaking. However, 30 people is not many people at all given just how tremendous these “maps” are. The feeling of isolation is maintained throughout the game and chance encounters are significant. More sand, bigger sandbox!
Survival mechanics in Remnants are also to be commended. Starvation, dehydration, cold, and radiation are the hazards you have to be aware of at all times. Unlike in similar titles, however, your character in Remnants does not have the metabolism of a hyperactive 15-year-old bodybuilder. Much like in real life, you’ll generally need to eat a few times a day. That leaves you with more time to enjoy and less time to frantically run around looking for resources. I had to plan for writing this Remnants review as much as I had to for my second night in the game.
Crafting is also an enjoyable experience (although it is still lacking in content). It was to me, at least. Crafting anything takes some time. I’m talking a few minutes if you want to craft some 20-odd arrows. However, you can be moving around in this time at no penalty. Planning ahead is key, whether defending against biohazards, NPCs, or other players.
Although the world is big, it is undeniably barren. It is not that hard to get lost when the entire landscape keeps repeating over and over. Rocks, trees, meadows, and hills may pass you by with no distinctive features to set them apart. Of course, the game is still in early access but the maps are too large to reasonably think that a single developer will be able to sufficiently populate every map to a satisfactory level.
What is also less than satisfactory at the moment is the AI. It is absolutely brutal. But it’s not just because I suck at the game, they’re seriously one-dimensional. Here is a quick guide: if you a crazy guy with a crowbar/pipe thing, run for a solid 5 minutes. If you see a Bioshock Big Daddy-looking thing, disconnect from the server.
There are also a lot of rough edges here and there. The UI was a struggle to work with, lots of server issues, crashes, and game-breaking bugs. Again, the game is not yet complete but that’s not what my brain tells me when I’m just trying to enjoy the game.
To bring this Remnants review toa close, Remnants feels big and deliberate. The game does not rush you, but in the end, you do exactly what it wants you to. The slow pace of the game lets you think about survival in a more strategic way than you are probably used to.
However, the game sorely needs a breath of life. Whether it be through better AI and NPCs or through better maps. The game is far from finished, and it seems it sets itself up for a grand scope.
Simply put, Remnants is the foundation for an excellent survival game without the building – yet.