Survival is a genre of video games that I recently stated was ‘easy to replicate’ and of course as soon as I said that The Culling came out of the shadows and shot a blowdart at my arse saying “You’re Wrong”. The Culling is an Early Access FPS-Survival-Battle-Royale where you play on your own (or with a mate) to attempt to kill all other players on the map or cowering and being the last one alive. It’s pretty much The Hunger Games: The Video-game. However, the subtle attention to detail in the gameplay aspect makes sure the game stands on its own two feet to be something different and deliver a memorable, enjoyable experience
One of the ways it’s separates itself is actually entering the arena. After a laggy dark screen (remember, Early Access) you spawn in a random location instead of the traditional middle from the films. A positive is you don’t have to worry about someone picking up a pistol and capping your knees as you run away. In contrast, a negative is that your buddy more than often a blue spec on your screen rather than an outline and so far away that you need a hobbit, a wizard and 13 dwarves to make it.
The crafting system relies on a F.U.N.C currency (and the materials for the item of course) to actually be make objects you can use. F.U.N.C is collected from finding former contestants around the place and hovering your hand over for five seconds or doing actions in the game, like finding F.U.N.C barrel (seen pic above) or setting off a gas canister and getting the out of there before your lungs get full with a crippling poison. There’s also loot crates dotted around the place -hey an accidental rhyme!- but for the highest tier weapons you need to have special items (like an explosive) or quite a large amount of F.U.N.C to open them. The final way to get items is to save up your F.U.N.C for an airdrop which gives you a good set of items with a theme to them for instance, a hunter kit would get a bow, arrows, meds and the potential to be more godly than Katniss Everdeen. I find these systems of item collecting balanced, and that will be a key theme throughout this review, its well thought out so there’s no real overpowered express way to win and it really comes down to the luck of the draw and how to use the result to your advantage. This is a common thing that others in this Battle-Royale genre get wrong like H1Z1 where you drop in (what you think is) the middle of nowhere only to find every nook and cranny has been scavenged and you’re a few seconds away from opening the bathroom door in which the Russian-speaking shotgun welder resides on the toilet.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some moments where you find yourself still hitting trees with a rock and suddenly a guy in riot gear is throwing dynamite at you like a max powered tennis ball machine. However, I am willing to look past those experiences as most of the time the game works as a steady ramp of difficulty throughout the match that you keep up with. Some of my favourite moments in the game is where your standing in the middle thinking you’re the dogs bollocks when suddenly Chris Kyle takes out your friend with a Sniper and Braveheart blinds you with pepper spray and impales you with a survival spear. There are other ways to gain small advantages like perks, recycle machines, health stations but none of them make it so you’re going to be able to blitzkrieg every enemy you come by. Furthermore, if anything is slightly unbalanced the regular updates really means it wont be for a while so it means you can’t leave your tribal skills at the door.
Visually, the game is actually above average due to the Unreal 4 Engine it runs on. I mean, it doesn’t feel like I am ACTUALLY traversing a jungle or ACTUALLY opening every loot locker I see but it’s still got enough eye candy for immersion, well , enough to focus on sniping the guy hitting the tree with a rock. There’s no real soundtrack for the game besides the main menu music but the audio design is pretty impressive to, a major key to any Player vs Player game is sound as hearing them first means you have chance you climb on top of a building and react the Battle of Somme. In this case, the audio is pretty ‘balanced’ meaning you can anticipate a blitzkrieg from an enemy relatively quickly which gives you a bit of leeway to flee.
If you are looking for a narrative, then wait till the next station. This is a survival game and typically the best you get from these games is that you are a <insert character> and you have to kill the other <Insert other characters> before they kill you. I mean The Culling basically sets this up just insert contestants and you’ve got it. However, it is Early Access so something still might be added but I wouldn’t expect a BAFTA winning tale.
To conclude, the gameplay , although a copy of the hunger games (if that bothers you), is solid and regularly updated to make sure it stays fun and refreshing. It’s even better when you play with a mate but solo play is still possible if you fancy trying to be Bear Grylls.
May the F.U.N.C Be in your favour,