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SCUM – Early Access Preview: Why am I playing this game?

Early Access games are really exciting to sink your teeth into with the promise of new and exciting adventures, hard-fought battles and a sense of accomplishment.

But, these games can often be fairly trash from the outset and make you wish you had spent your time and money elsewhere. Like on that bottle of Vodka to get blackout drunk so you don’t have to remember the terrible game you just sunk ten hours in to for no reason. SCUM hits somewhere in the middle and after thirty hours, I don’t know WHY I’m still playing this game.

Developer: Gamepires
Genre(s): Action Adventure, Survival, Multiplayer
Platform(s): Steam PC
Release: Currently Early access

From the moment I dropped on the “island”, I had a sense of anxiety. Not something that’s very common for playing a game, but something about knowing you have no starting weapons and no food makes me extremely edgy. Well-founded, it seems.

I walk, then run to the nearest town I can find, though the “map” is of little help to tell me where I should be going. I just assume its the orange splotches. Finally, I reach my first town, unsure of what to expect. I run face-first into a “puppet”. That’s what we call zombies these days, apparently.

The puppet swings at me and misses. So, I start to run it around in circles, making decisive blows when I see an opportunity like a boxer getting in solid left and rights. Then, I hear a shot and all of a sudden, I’m dead. Welcome to SCUM: a frustrating experience that will make you question why you bothered with the download, but then get sucked in and have zero idea why you’re enjoying a game that is all about nothing.

This is the Seinfeld of video games.

WHAT IS SCUM?

This is the question I have been asking myself over and over, “What is SCUM?” The official blurb from the developer: “SCUM is an open-world survival game with unprecedented levels of character customization, control, and progression. Knowledge and skill are your ultimate weapons for long-term survival.”

Basically, it’s another in a long line of zombie fighting survival games. Shock horror. You’re a convict who has been tossed onto a region of land with a bunch of other convicts to survive for ratings on a TV show,  scrounge weapons, food and other items to survive in the face of zombies, other players wanting to gank your ass, starvation, dehydration and giant mechs that want to kill you for going in to restricted areas.

YES, MECHS. No, you can’t control them. Yes, apparently you can kill them. No, they DON’T DROP ANY LOOT, unlike the zombies you kill. You would expect they would drop some awesome chaingun or something, but nah mate. Zero stuff drops from it even though they’re so damn hard to kill.

WHATS THE PURPOSE THOUGH?

What do you mean? That’s all there is to this game, for now. Survive.

Okay fine, let’s go deeper in. First up, when you build your convict, there is an amazing amount of stats and stuff you can change much like an old RPG system. But, none of it will tell you what it ACTUALLY means. You will already be overwhelmed by choices. And, holy crap, my eyes are already hurting. Why is this so VERY complicated?

Not to mention the game has an extremely in-depth and mostly useless micromanagement system whereby you have to meticulously look after your Tamagotchi. Ensuring you’re taking in the right amount of *yawns* calories and sugars and water and I might go take a nap.

This isn’t going to be for everyone, so if you ignore these you should be MOSTLY fine, other than maybe reduced maximum health and stamina.

Currently, there are plans to implement missions and side quests to pad out the game as well as introducing vehicles. But, this currently doesn’t have a full timelined roadmap. So, you could be waiting a long, LONG time.

A survival loot simulator with the real threat coming from other players and not the actual environment… Again, why am I playing this game?

This is the Seinfeld of video games.

PLAYING THE GAME

Straight off the bat, there are a number of factors you need to get used to, such as defecation (hold down tab and select the icon) that you will need to get used to. Stamina drains from running, jumping, punching and climbing. The more you exert yourself, the more stamina that drains. Once you reach zero stamina, you slow to a walk because you done tuckered yourself out.

There is an interesting crafting system included so you can be like a caveman and make stone knives, spears, stone-tipped spears, bags, clothing and varies cooked meals. But, none of that really matters because items are extremely hard to find. Making a knife, spear and bag are easy though, so that’s nice I guess.

Not that I have really gotten much of the crafting done and been able to really explore it. You have to *yawn* go and find bags or make them and *yawn* oh this is so much effort just to craft some ammunition for my AK-47 and… Oh, I’m dead again.

APPARENTLY, THERE IS MULTIPLAYER

I say “apparently” as I have yet to actually get in to play the multiplayer. At the time of writing, I have played for thirty-five hours, died more times than I can remember and not found the way to play multiplayer. Not for a lack of trying, I tried for four hours the other day, reading and trying to join PVP but I couldn’t get anywhere near the zone before… Oh, I’m dead again. Great.

THE GAME HAS ISSUES, BUT NOT EARLY ACCESS ISSUES

This game is, in the present state, a large sandbox filled with puppets and other players. It feels more like a resume rather than an early access game thanks to the lack of quests/missions and vehicles. It takes far too long to get anywhere on the map, having to run for what seems like hours. The controls aren’t as straightforward as they should be and it took me a long time to learn HOW TO DEFECATE. That’s not even a joke. I thought I would never have to say that.

There is really very little to do in the game right now, and that makes this feel more like a bad Alpha than an Early Access game. Over time, this will change and the game will evolve. But right now, I can’t tell you to go out and buy the game.

It really feels like a bunch of game devs got together and polished up a Game Jam game, chucked it up on stream and their mates went, “Yeah mate, bloody sick. Everyone’s gonna want this game.” The sad reality is that there is currently zero hook. So as much as the thirty-five hours I have sunk in, what was the ACTUAL point?

Night time is pretty much death waiting to happen. It usually lasts three hours but visibility is at an all-time low during this period. The weather effects are nice, but sadly it’s more of the same with almost zero visibility. Also, there is currently a SEVERE memory leak, meaning that if you play for longer than an hour, your frames will drop dramatically.

Players have already scouted, learned and camped the good loot zones. Nothing is worse for a new player than jumping on into a fresh minty game, only to be constantly smashed by “geared” players over and over again. The players already on the servers have all the good loot camped and it is near impossible to gear up. Not only that, some players are hunting in packs, tracking down players reviving and slaughtering them. I know this from first-hand experience.

And anyway, what’s the deal with those zombie survival games?

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Al Caynes

Cheshire is an avid TCG, CCG and boardgame player, having played games like MTG for over 20 years. Loves to stream and create content for all of you, the people.

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