Deep Survival Game ‘Neo Scavenger’ Releases On Mobile

Blue Bottle Games

I’ve been having a great time exploring the resurgence of the Roguelike survival game over the past few years. While some of these games, like The Long Dark, captivate you in a beautiful world and provide a grounded, meditative, survival experience, other are like Neo Scavenger. Eschewing graphical beauty, Neo Scavenger feels like it could have been made in the early days of PC gaming. It utilizes a simplistic hex based map, and textual prompts to deliver the story.

That’s not to say it’s any worse for it. Simple graphics and text allow the developers to create a sprawling world into which you struggle to survive. In the game, you awaken in a strange facility with no memory, wearing only a hospital gown. You’re available actions are determined by the situation and the different skills you have. For example, if you have a hacking skill, then you can try to access the computer console in the room. And with the mechanic skill, you make sense of the automated doors, etc.

Another thing that made the game interesting to me was the sheer volume of scavengable items and the myriad of ways you can use them. A quick example from my first game happened after walking around with bare feet and dealing with the blisters that ensued. I was so excited when I saw the icon of a shoe in the items I scavenged. I put it on my character only to realize that it wasn’t a pair of shoes, but one single shoe, for one foot. While it’s a tiny touch, I think it is the only game I’ve played where you have to deal with finding footwear for each foot. It’s a little touch, but speaks to the oppressive depth and realism that is built into the item system.

The text based gameplay that allows for a great amount of flavor also trickles down to the combat system. The combat is turn-based and you give your character orders on every turn, but the result of your actions and your opponent's response is all delivered through text. What is fun is that you never really feel like a hero, since the text descriptions of your actions usually have you flailing about and stumbling as you fight. It helps to heighten the idea that you are just another nobody trying to survive.

While The Long Dark keeps the world grounded with no items or enemies that aren’t commonly found in the wilderness, Neo Scavenger favors a rich post-apocalyptic world that you must unravel through the old newspapers and survivors you come across. Beyond the feral animals and other scavengers, there are supernatural horrors that are waiting to destroy you if you ever get too confident.

Though the game has been out since 2014, it has just been released on iOS and Android. A demo is available for free in the app store, but you must pay $9.99 to unlock the full game. If anything, this is exciting since deep strategic experiences are hard to come by in the mobile world. This is a killer title that can join the very short list deep strategy games you can play on the go. The mobile port is solid, though the biggest hindrance is that the interface and controls of the game itself feel like they were crafted deep in gamings past. It will take a few minutes to understand how to take general actions in the game, touch controls don’t really make this worse, but they don’t make it any better either. For me, the clanky controls are worth it if it let’s me take such a great survival sim on the go.

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