EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Johnathan Irwin
previewed on PC
Dangers of Early Access
Early Access, we meet again. Another tempting look at yet another title that may or may not pan out in the future. I have to make it clear, I don't hate Early Access games. It's a great way for players to get to play something they want early, but the tradeoff is that it's a -huge- gamble in over 80% of those cases. I've been burned a fair number of times in the last couple years, but there have been some cases where the EA games have either pulled through, or are still in development yet fun to play for me. Black Mesa, DayZ, The Forest, H1Z1: King of the Kill, these are a handful of EA titles that are still fun for me despite not being anywhere close to being fully launched titles yet. Then we have some darker games that have gone through EA. Nether was a mess and was released a mess. Landmark is shutting down next month after being a huge money sink for the devs and fans alike. Early Access is definitely dangerous territory; sometimes you may be better off staying on an island rather than swimming out to sea.
Speaking of islands, we now swing around to The Other 99: a single player first person survival experience that pits the player against 99 other people trapped on an isolated island with no sign of civilization in sight. The only way off the island is to be either the last one standing or to find the means to repair the only boat seen on the island. There are no allies, there are only hunters and the hunted. In the current state of the game there is no sense of urgency, no dire conflicts, it's mostly just exploring and throwing haymakers or beating people down with melee weapons on some of the dumbest AI I've ever seen. It's not much to look at although the lighting effects whenever lightning flashes is superb. The island feels restrained and small and I'm not entirely convinced that it's possible to kill the other 99 occupants yet as I've yet to find any more after the 84 mark. It's a major work in progress, and the last patch was November 16th of last year. Off the bat, that's a lot of negatives to talk about but they're so blatant that the positives are hard to find.
There is one thing about The Other 99 that I absolutely love, however. The sound quality is absolutely on point, the constant ongoing rainfall is beauty to my ears. The rolling thunder, with occasional loud clashes from close lightning strikes sound authentic and are not on a constant loop that sounds too similar to the last. What little music there is adds a layer of eerie ambiance which would actually work very well if the AI wasn't so lacking. I feel most of the time and effort put into The Other 99 so far has been in the audio department. Even the voice acting, though limited, is rather well done. I do feel like I'm dealing with some genuine psychos. That is, until they start moving.
The Other 99
The Other 99 is an odd concept to me. What is essentially a battle royale scenario, but with a single player focus, is in and of itself odd. But what's really mind-boggling is the focus on sound over gameplay. The sound, as mentioned, is fantastic. The gameplay is in dire need of help. There needs to be more detail and interesting locations added to the island, the AI needs to be tweaked to at least feel like a threat, and the story desperately needs to be more fleshed out. The vague details of this prison island are not enough to keep me interested, the surveillance camera gaze of a 'big brother' sort is hardly noticed, and without more implication of an outside force keeping them on the island it just falls short currently.
It pains us to say this, but we don't see how this game will mesh. At the current stage of development the game should be much farther ahead than it is.