Stranded Deep Alpha Build 0.01. I can test to that. It is indeed the very first build of the latest survival game, brought to you by 2 guys from Brisbane, Australia, Ben and Sam and their studio BEAM. Their website states that after 2 years, the game is ready to see the light of day. At least in Early Access. There are bugs a plenty. Sand sharks, disappearing rafts, I did see a flying shark at one point, he was chasing me, through the air. But this is the first build, build 0.01, I would actually be appalled If I didn’t see bugs and glitches at this point. But this is not what I want to talk about, I want to talk about my first few hours as Tom Hanks in Castaway Simulator 2015.
The opening scene is very familiar, it’s almost exactly like the scene in The Forest. You are in a plane and the plane crashes, you are the sole survivor, now go! Well, with a small exception that in Forest, you had a child with you, in Stranded Deep, you have a Martini with you. I’m almost certain it was shaken. The plane crashes, you have to swim to the surface, life raft is waiting, climb in and the game starts.
For an Early Access game, it looks beautiful, light and water effects are amazing, shadows follow the sun and when it gets dark, the moonlight bounces of the sea and lights the area. All the things look like they should and the underwater world is creepy with old wrecks and constant present of the shark kind. Gorgeous game for a 300+ megabytes download.
Let there be night
Crafting system, in my opinion, is the meat of Stranded Deep. Its physics based, so you don’t carry 700 items in your inventory, you have only 8 slots to start with, not sure if there are backpacks in the game, haven’t found one yet, but those 8 slots fill up real fast, so you have to pile up items and hope that something comes out of it, there are no guides, books or tutorials in game to show you the ropes, so all the crafting is trial and error. The good thing is, the crafting makes sense, actual sense, to craft a Crude ax, you don’t need a fin of a shark or a golden shard of a mermaid to make it, you need what you would actually use to make it: One rock, one stick and one lashing or rope. You can find all these on an island. The tricky part is to make more intricate items due to there being no guides at all. Sure, you can find guides on the interwebs, but that’s cheating! I like this, it’s more immersive when I have to figure out what to do.
Have ax, will travel
Exploring is done by your trusty liferaft from the plane. You can drag the raft closer to your base so the sea doesn’t claim it. If this somehow still happens, don’t worry, you can make a raft from sticks, not going to tell you how, I’m evil like that. There are plenty of islands to explore, every time you land on a new island, you can see new places to explore in the horizon, all are practically the same, but it’s early, lets forgive that for now. Underwater exploring is a very intense experience, you have a few things to worry about then. First is the air, you don’t have a magical lung that will keep you underwater for hours, no, you can stay there for less than a minute, there is also darkness to deal with and for people who don’t like sharks, there is always a nice surprise of Tiger Shark waiting for you when you get out. The presence of a shark is indicated by a music, like Jaws. Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, on the other hand its intense when you know the thing is somewhere near, but then again, surprise attack could be even more intense.
I have 4 hours played. It’s not much, but just enough to make a first impression. I have done all the things that a starting player will do in the first hours. I have build a small hut, eaten cooked crabs, died to a shark, almost drowned while hunting the underwater treasure of a lantern or a machete and I really like this game. It has a metric ton of potential, first hotfix was implemented today, only few days after the first build was released, so the devs are on the ball from the get go. Bugs are there like in any Early Access game. I don’t hunt bugs for my articles, I report them when I see them, what I’m looking for in these Early Access impressions, is potential. Potential to be something great. Potential to give something new to the genre. This game has both.