I adore survival games: hooked since the first time Indie Games like Minecraft left me in the bottom of a mud pit with nothing but a wooden shovel and a handful of dirt to fend off Skeleton-Riding Spiders, lurking with hungry eyes in the murk of the night. There’s something gripping about the way games in this genre force you to start with nothing and figure out things for yourself. Your gradual rise from beating two rocks together to becoming a god amongst your domain is engaging in a fundamental way… One that should be especially hard to screw up.
This is the sticking point of Johannes Tscholl’s Shipwreck: it succeeds in core survival mechanics, but is one of those games that fail spectacularly in one particular area, thereby ruining the whole experience. Surely you’ve played a game where everything aligns perfectly but something still just puts you off, right? I mean, how many of us picked up Street Fighter 4, for example, and had fun with it, but couldn’t get over the ugly art style? In a similar vein, Shipwreck sees you gathering materials to survive, placing you at constant odds between your expanding hunger or thirst and the great distance between precious resources. This is all fine and good, but all these elements collapse once you understand how -of all things- walking works.
I feel that, since walking is one of the first actions video games attempted to replicate, it should be perfected to an exact and easy to replicate science by now. Apparently, this isn’t the case, as Shipwreck becomes one of the most boring experiences you’ll ever play. The walking is mind-numbingly slow, and though it uses tile-based movement, there is no method to skip the walking animation or move to an area you don’t have vision of. This means that not only do you move at the speed of death, but when exploring, you have to double tap where you want to walk every three tiles. So, if you thought it’s one of those games you can just put aside for a bit and wait for it to do its thing, it seems you didn’t account for the fact that, despite our character being in a life-and-death situation, he couldn’t be in less of a hurry.
That’s all there is to say, really. I usually like to go a bit more in-depth with games, as if I were trying to comprehensively recommend or warn of the title in question, but this point is the beginning and the end of my criticism, as well as all of my positive notes that I planned to mention, which slowly snuffed out as I navigated through the title. Even though I’m giving the game a 2, I feel like it could be an easy 3.5 or 4 if the creator just fixed this one issue. Until then, save your dollars for kindling.
Is it Hardcore?
Insanely slow and boring survival game with Populous-esque graphics.