I find myself checking the Steam store page nearly every day for something to stand out to me, it seems in the last few years Steam has opened the floodgates to its quality control, saturating the ‘New Releases’ page with shovelware. This has perhaps had something to do with the widely adopted Early Access module, which, regardless of what people think of it in principle, has rarely provided a positive outcome, with only a handful of titles actually coming out the other end fully completed and not abandoned.
It was whilst I browsed the ‘Popular New Releases’ page, that I noticed Shadows of Kurgansk, an Early Access survival game from Yadon Studio, after some digging, I found that this game is actually strikingly similar to an Android title named ‘The Abandoned’ (though after a conversation with the developers I have been told that this is not a straight port of the mobile version) – immediately I was worried, having seen an increasing number of mobile titles slide their way onto the storefront (I’m looking at you Dead Effect) and, whilst these games may prove popular on our handheld devices, they far too often carry with them the ‘feel’ of a mobile game, as well as dreaded micro transactions more often than not.
However, it seems that Yardon Studio have released a fairly polished product, so much so that I wasn’t aware of its mobile roots or its Early Access until after I had played. At first glance you immediately notice the art style, not too dissimilar to the Borderlands or The Long Dark, I’m normally not a fan of this cell shaded look, and very few games manage to pull it off without giving off an overly cartoonish feel (Hurtworld is a fine example of this), but Shadows of Kurgansk benefits greatly from this art style, it adds to the atmosphere with its washed out mixture of green and orange and I can’t help but feel that if this game was taking a more realistic look of say Rust or Day Z, that it would just look like another run of the mill survival game that we see so much of in the current market.
One thing that always deters me from these survival games are the lack of story, The Long Dark is currently the only survival game I’ve seen that is at least attempting to made a worthwhile story rather than just plonking you in the middle of the map, smacking you on the bottom and sending you on your way. Shadows of Kurgansk has a story, of sorts, nothing groundbreaking but enough that you can get a feel of the gameplay mechanics and the overarching backstory that the devs are going for. The atmosphere reminds me greatly of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series and kudos to the developers for nailing that isolated, almost decrepit feeling of old Eastern Europe, it really is something, and many developers have tried and failed to pull this off.
The real crux of the game is its Survival mode, it’s a fairly standard affair, you can craft items such as weapons or fires or structures, and you need to fend off what are essentially zombies, though aside from these enemies there are some interesting quirks such as ghosts, and fans of Doctor Who may particularly enjoy one of the more creative enemy types in this game, but I won’t spoil it. The crafting system is well implemented, without being spectacular, enemies aren’t overpowered and will drop in a few hits, not before taking a chunk out of you however, luckily as with every survival game you can kill and cook the local fauna and harvest the local vegetation to restore your health. Oh you’ve got a hunger meter as well of course, which is hardly noticeable in all honesty. The survival mode is fun in all honesty, does it do anything particularly new? Not really, those who have frequented games like Rust or Hurtworld will feel right at home here, sadly, the game features no multiplayer, with no plans to implement it in the future.
So the big question, is this game worth spending £10.99 on? Personally, I don’t think so, once you get past the eye-catching visuals and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. like atmosphere, this is really just another run of the mill survival game, and whilst this is very similar to the aforementioned Android game that received good reviews on the Google Play Store, it’s not offering anything that you wouldn’t find in a similar game of the genre.
There is clearly some work still to be done on this game and as such I will be keeping an eye on its progress and will be revisiting it once it is further along in development, Yardon Studio have a lot of features planned for the future, and it will be interesting to see how these are implemented over time. The Long Dark is still the reigning king of survival games for me, and Shadows of Kurgansk needs to do a lot of improving in its development before it can really stand out in the market.
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