Early Access: The Culling

gets his hands dirty with this Hunger Games-esque title

Image: Xaviant

Image: Xaviant

Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: 4 March 2016
Developer: Xaviant

Honestly, I’ve been waiting for this game for a long time. Not to be a hipster but many many moons ago (long before The Hunger Games was even a thing) I read and enjoyed (though make of that what you will) Battle Royale. A class of young adults taken to an island and told to kill each other until only one remains for plot reasons that I think were fairly vague.

With the rise of both The Hunger Games series and the Early Access Survival Genre a game that was basically Battle Royale seemed to me like a very obvious conclusion. For a while it was a very popular game type in Minecraft and yet still no dedicated game existed. Until now that is.

The Culling makes no real pretence (in this stage of its Early Access at least) to much of a plot. You are a contestant in a blood sport broadcast live on the internet to millions! You have twenty minutes to explore, craft and fight. Last man standing is the victor.

Dropped into the arena surrounded by sticks and stones that can be used to break bones; once you’ve crafted them into a spear, that is. You’re encouraged to explore and hunt looking for powerful weapons and armour in buildings before you hunt down other players. The crafting is simple, rub object A against object B and super nano bots called ‘nanites’ will make Object C. Nanites are gained from killing others, exploring areas and caches that leave you temporarily vulnerable.

There is a large selection of weapons from those that you can craft to those that you can randomly find all the way up to  calling in a care package that contains a set loadout. Everything you do, however, has risk. Calling in some armour, a bow and a nice sword? Well that means you’ve got to stay in the same area for quite some time and those drones make a lot of noise and give off a lot of smoke so everyone in the area is going to be gunning for your location. Whilst not something I really used, traps are an option and I imagine effective setup can easily incapacitate a more gung-ho opponent.

The ‘best’ part of the game is the interaction with other players. The deals and alliances, the betrayal and murder. The steam forums are already full of stories of “The guy who was my servant until the last moment where he killed me and took my stuff” and the like. And if the developers have any sense they’ll likely try and implement more features to encourage this kind of behaviour.

Interestingly the costume items that you win at the end of each game (higher score, better stuff) seems to be linked to the Steam Marketplace meaning that you can customise your character easily or even potentially turn a profit.

The Culling has all the basics down. It’s perfectly functional, has lots of interesting features and enough stuff to keep play styles diverse and interesting. Honestly a more cynical developer could easily release it in its current state at a significantly higher price that it’s currently at and it would likely be regarded as an alright game. For that reason it’s easy to recommend The Culling, though it’s probably better if you can convince some friends to get it with you.

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