is a member of one of the rarest genres in the entire games industry - and it’s not a bad entry into it either. It’s a survival game. Not one in the sense of fending off waves of enemies, but in terms of man versus the environment. It puts you on a desert island and sees how long you can survive.
There are other survival games which are better known, such as Deus
and the Lost in Blue
series, but the genre is still horribly undernourished for those of us that actually like the idea of being stuck away from civilisation for an extended period. It gets even worse when you realise that Robinson’s Requiem
is near unplayable and that the Lost in Blue
games always decay into block-puzzles half-way through.
All that’s left is Stranded 2
– and even that isn’t perfect.
starts off very strongly, putting you on a fairly small island and challenging you to survive long enough to escape. You have to collect rocks and twigs to make axes to chop firewood and collect palm leaves for shelter. The first stages of the game keep you always on the brink of starvation. The tech tree is tied to your inner monologue, so you can’t build everything from the start – you’ll spend a lot of time collecting coconuts before it ‘occurs to you’ that you might be able to farm the land.
The result of all this is that you get a real sense of accomplishment and become very attached to your shelter. You develop routines for patrolling the land and calculate the optimum route for gathering resources before the end of the day. As you get more comfortable you start to require less rest and can carry more items with you, allowing you to explore more of the land. You go from feeling like a shivering weakling to being a conqueror of nature, but Stranded 2
keeps finding ways to put you back in your place, introducing new obstacles just when you think you've got the upper hand.
You wouldn’t believe how scared I was when I started exploring and came across my first lion. I almost threw my mouse at it.
Unfortunately Stranded 2
starts to fall apart shortly after the first level. Eventually your character decides to escape the island on a raft. You shipwreck on another island, this time with people on it. Then you have to start doing things with magic portals, collecting mushrooms and dealing with four or five lions at once. It loses the plot, basically.
’s main problem is that it doesn’t end when it should do, instead prolonging the experience and taking it further from its initial appeal. It’s a shame really, because the start of the game is incredibly addictive and interesting. The game as a whole isn’t really worth bothering with because it ventures into ideas and mechanics that are better explored elsewhere, but the first level is definitely something I’d recommend taking a look at if you fancy yourself as a virtual Ray Mears.