Sunday, 24 April 2016

Indie Gaming: Sir, You Are Being Hunted

Picture from the official Big Robot website
An experiment gone wrong has cast you into a hostile archipelago, crawling with robotic hunters keen to shuffle you off your mortal coil. Sir, You are being hunted!

The game is essentially a survival story, you must locate the missing pieces of your experiment and return them to the standing stones on the central island of the archipelago (there are five islands in total). The entire game world is procedurally generated from a selection of different templates (Rural, Fens, Industrial etc.) and populated by buildings, wildlife and of course robots.

Procedurally generated village names!
The robots are varied in their type, but reflect British rural hunting parties. The main robot you'll likely see is the shotgun-toting Hunter, and as time passes you'll notice others including hounds and horse-riders. The amount of each enemy type is fully customisable in the games settings when you create a map, which is great if you're finding particular enemy types a frustrating.

A shop! Full of junk...
As you pass houses, rubbish bins, barrels and so on, you can loot them for items. Most of the stuff you find will be junk or of dubious usage, but occasionally you'll find things which are very helpful indeed. This being a survival game, you need to eat or drink from time to time in order to maintain your health, and can even hunt for wild game if you have the weaponry, and the ability to cook your food.

The procedurally generated locations are a mix of ruined hamlets, churches and such, and provides an eerie backdrop to your search. It seems all the other humans were long since hunted, and so you feel very much alone as you hide amongst the fields, bushes and long grasses to avoid detection.

Letters give a little flavour to the game
Detection itself is dependant on sound and vision, with the hunters able to spot you from a good distance when the sun is high, necessitating a lot of crawling in the foliage in order to reduce their view distances, with a helpful indicator in the user interface showing in approximate terms how exposed you are.

As of writing this, I am a long way off being able to beat the game, but I am very interested to explore it's charming, rugged landscapes. One of my particular struggles was trying to carry the often hefty mysterious devices back to the standing stones. The inventory is the classic "tetris" style, so shuffling things around is often required. As you would expect, often the most useful or crucial items take up the most space.
Dark satanic mills
Avoiding the enemies is key too, since the amount of ammunition and weaponry is limited - at least for you. It is much better to preserve your bullets and instead find a way to sneak around the islands. Of course if you want an easier start, the character options allow you to select "Officer", which grants you a rifle and a revolver, but those bullets get used very quickly if you intend to shoot your way through.
Sir, I have been hunted.
I know I have many secrets yet to find out about this fun little game, and look forward to delving further into it.

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