Nether is a first person survival horror game that is currently still in Beta mode on Steam. Initially released as an early access game last October the developers, Phosphor Games Studio, have been working hard to listen to the feedback from all of the players and as such tweak the game to make the experience better as well as working hard to remove as many bugs and glitches that you will inevitably find in such an expansive and open world game such as this.
There have a been a few open world survival horror games released in recent memory, the best and perhaps most well known of these is the Arma 2 Mod Day Z, and just like Day Z Nether places you into a post apocalyptic world with many other online gamers with the primary aim of just surviving. The twist in this game is that the city is populated by creatures known as Nethers, these were once humans humans that populated the world but following an event, known as ‘the cull’, they are now blood thirsty creatures of varying shapes and sizes that can teleport themselves anywhere. Nowhere feels particularly safe, even the highest rooftop is just a quick teleport away for one of these creatures.
Running on the Unreal 3 engine Nether has a great look to it, in my first steps of learning what the game is I was taken aback by just how good the lighting effects were, the sun shines brilliantly through boards over windows and over the roof tops, the streets themselves have been overgrown and it is a truly convincing world that looks like it has been like this for a long time. The game engine certainly makes the experience immersive and, if your PC can run it on max settings, you are in for a real visual treat, which for this genre of game usually isn’t quite up to this level of detail.
On to the gameplay and at first I found it frustrating, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one, there is little in the game itself that explains what you are really meant to do and the first couple of hours I was just wondering round trying to interact with various shops and buildings, so I moved on to the forums, where the community really has grown with this game. So many people have taken to this game and are keen to aid the developers in pointing out slight problems and areas that they would like to see improved and from what I have seen Phosphor Games have tried as hard as they can to implement as many changes as they can.
I discovered that I should really follow the initial tutorial and after doing so it really helped me understand the game better. Basically this game can be quite unforgiving, the Nethers that you will encounter can be difficult on their own but if two or more are surrounding you then you really have no hope. This is after all a survival horror game, weapons, ammo and even food and are incredibly scarce, you will not be running and gunning everything you see, if you do you will soon be starting over again. And in this game getting killed means that everything you have collected, all weapons, ammo and supplies you have found on your way will be gone, back to be discovered in the wasteland.
A recent addition to the game has been the introduction of tribes/clans that you can join, which means that certain areas of the city can now be controlled by tribes. Initially this game saw you either be friendly to other gamers or kill them on sight, now you have the added dynamic of being a part of a tribe and deciding who you should side with, after all it makes sense that if you want to live longer you should really work together, but sometimes it can be fun to go it on your own, Nether gives you these choices and I feel implements them well.
The overriding feeling you will get when playing Nether is that you never fully feel safe. The Nether can teleport behind you at any moment and whilst they have poor vision their hearing is their asset, run and they will hear you, fire a gun and it is likely more will come, patience is something you will need to have if you are to survive long enough to really enjoy this game, and that in itself is something that sets this game apart from many available out there now.
Nether is still in the Beta mode, there has been no indication when this game will be released as a full retail game, except for the word ‘soon’. If you are thinking of trying this game out then I would say go for it, but be aware that it is work in progress and is a little rough around the edges, as I have said patience is key to enjoying this game, it isn’t something you can just jump in and out of, there is great potential here and I truly hope Phosphor Games can deliver on a game that so far is so good!