After Action Report: Near Death

Crashlanded near a deserted station in the Arctic, alone, you must find a way to get back to civilisation. Or the next inhabited station, at least. That’s what Near Death (official site, Steam) puts you into.

As I’m writig these lines, the temperature creeps upwards to 35 degrees Celsius so the premise of having some cold around me sounds great. Well, not so much if the cold drops below -100 degrees and more, not to mention windchill, and you’re pretty much freezing to a popsicle if you stand outside for more than one minute at a time. The cold is your enemy and it’s not easy to escape it. Sutro Station is deserted, been so for a while, and many windows are broken. You need to fix the windows before you can warm up with a portable heater - which requires fuel - and resources are scarce enough to make you think hard on which window you really want to repair.

Your sidekick in the game are your friends on the next arctic station which you can contact via teletypers that are found around the station. They will tell you all the ways they can’t get you out of your predicament and are probably a blast at parties.

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The Good

This is a survival game without food/water bars to keep you on your toes. The jury is still out on whether that means Near Death is really a survival game, but the constant pressure from having to stay warm more tha makes up for that. Your warmth is the only gauge you really need to worry about and oh god you will. The design of the station makes it easily believable that it has been abandoned years ago, with windows broken, walls missing and resources being scarce. There are ways to make some permanent shelter without needing to use your portable heater, but you really have to work for them.

The Bad

When I played this game, I played it on the hardest difficulty available. It felt challenging, but not unfair. I got the achievement for it and felt good for myself. And then the devs went and released two more difficulties with their achievements, effectively ruining my 100% achievement rating of the game. I felt cheated, and still do.

The Unexpected

When you get to certain part of the game, you will find a rest and recreation room with several amenities for the crew that would be stationed here. One of them is a pool table that you can interact with. That really made my day.