Following the success of Fallout 3, I was surprised we didn’t immediately get many more post-apocalyptic survival games from all manners of developers, similar to the Word War II game craze of the early 2000s. Actually more than surprised, I was disappointed. There was a lot of potential in that genre, and the best way to squeeze it for everything it was worth would have been a greater amount of titles inspired by the king of the concept.
But then again, had that craze come to pass, we would surely have had to endure more games like Wasteland Survivor.
Wasteland Survivor is an RPG-lite style game that sees you and a party of fellow apocalyptic survivors traversing the wasteland, while scrounging supplies, using those supplies to avoid dying, trading supplies for more supplies, and occasionally fighting enemies with, and for, supplies.
If you’re a hoarder with a fondness for the barter system, this might actually sound enjoyable, but for anyone else I can assure you it is not. The unbearable amount of plain text tutorials at the beginning of Wasteland Survivor may give you the impression that its gameplay is deep. In reality all you’re doing is wandering around aimlessly through generic locations, in the hopes of finding items that will allow you to wander aimlessly just a little bit longer before succumbing to death. You’ll occasionally find a new survivor to recruit, someone to trade with or a trap that has to be disabled, but otherwise the overview outlined above is the entire Wasteland Survivor experience.
Well, I suppose there is the combat system, but good Lord, is it a mess! It basically has you navigating a grid-based battlefield while balancing action points between different types of attacks, and moving around between squares. It’s a familiar system, but it’s completely ruined here by enemies who are almost universally better equipped then you are (my first battle was me with an ax versus someone with a sniper rifle, with predictable results), and a general feeling of dissatisfaction throughout. Even in a fair fight, you’re offered absolutely nothing in terms of strategy, and instead are asked to get into firing range, so that you can quickly discover you don’t have enough experience points in firearms to hit even 3 out of 10 shots on your enemy. Unfortunately, the best way to get more experience is to participate in these battles, which is quite redundant considering you won’t be living long enough to level up most of the time anyway.
But all of these shortcomings pale in comparison to the game’s graphics. Consisting of a few basic symbols and shapes (your main character is a circle, for instance) and a pallet of about three colors, the visual effects on display here are not only less appealing than browsing through Clipart, but actively contribute to the unsatisfying nature of the gameplay by offering no real visual cues to 99 percent of your actions. I can’t speak with certainty exactly how much of the game’s bizarre retail price of $1.02 developer Dioka is using to recoup visual costs, but I feel fairly confident it’s not both cents.
Now I am aware that some games intentionally offer a toned down visual experience in order to accentuate and enhance certain other aspects of the game. This is called minimalism. Wasteland Survivor‘s visuals are certainly not a case of minimalism. They’re closer to non-existent.
Even if Wasteland Survivor offered world-class visuals and innovative gameplay, it would all be undone by a host of bugs too large to fully list here. The highlight is no doubt the error message that follows the many instances of the game crashing, that reads: “Unfortunately Wasteland Survivor has stopped working.”
Unfortunately? Don’t be so hard on yourself Wasteland Survivor! I can assure you that crash was the best thing that happened during our brief time together.
So how does Wasteland Survivor score? Well, I can award it 0.5 points for not having in-app purchases, which is always a nice change of pace. I’d also like to award it an additional 0.5 points for offering the most realistic version of the apocalypse ever seen by providing an in-game world devoid of hope, life, entertainment and people with no purpose beyond merely existing, even if they no longer know the reason why they bother to do that.
But don’t take my word for it. Just ask wasteland king Lord Humongous what he thinks of Wasteland Survivor:
No, no, no, no, no, no
Besides encouraging you to research new synonyms for the word boring, Wasteland Survivor offers nothing of merit.