EndCiv Preview: Rebuilding Humanity After the Apocalypse

Since I’m a huge fan of everything post-apocalyptic, I immediately accepted the offer to play a very early alpha stage of EndCiv, a survival/rebuilding post-apocalyptic game created by indie German studio Crowbox. You can’t say no to the opportunity of keeping alive a couple of survivors after an unknown catastrophic event, in a world where resources are mostly scrap metal and plastic bottles, dogs are flooding the lands and threaten to go crazy any moment and toilets are replaced by a hole dug in the ground, just meters away from your camp. And sometimes, even the hole is missing!

So I gladly started my EndCiv adventure, thinking about repopulating Earth (which was going to be difficult since I only had 2 male survivors), planning the design of my future base… I was confident. Just several minutes later, both my people were dead, after just a few days in the wild, killed by the lack of drinking water. And I hadn’t even managed to build them a bed!

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For the next try, I was ready: I built a few barrels to gather rain waiter, I built some crates for storage (because those scary dogs eat your cans of food if you don’t store them properly!) and I even managed to welcome two more survivors to my upcoming bustling city in the wastelands – or whatever you wish to call those barren lands. I even started building a shack but my guys were really unlucky: there was no rain for several days and eventually they all died because, well… there was no water! Oh, that drove me crazy!

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You will eventually build your base up and even get energy via solar panels! Eventually…

EndCiv is ruthless. EndCiv is not a game to take lightly and definitely not one to play it nice with you just to keep you happy. No, EndCiv is a real challenge and it throws the survival at you instantly. And that’s exactly what I loved about it – the fact that it makes you work for every achievement. No, you won’t have three houses built after a few minutes of playtime, nor you will already have a mini-farm up and running. Do you have enough resources to build a barrel? Now that will make you happy! Do you have enough to build a bed? Now that will make you even happier. Nothing’s easy and it’s exactly this what makes you enjoy every moment of play time.

Of course, I played an early Alpha stage and “early Alpha” means that there’s not really a ton of content in the game and you base your impression mostly on potential and the very few little things that you’re getting. In this build, there are just a few things that you can actually build or do, controlling your survivors seems a bit difficult and un-intuitive, while the difficulty level is a bit too much. I understand that water is vital, but there’s really no point in even trying if I only have two bottles of water for two survivors and absolutely no means to collect extra (yup, during one playthrough I did scavenge all the resources on a huge area, trying to survive until the next rain and still didn’t manage to do it, even though I did find a few extra bottles…)

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The guys are slow when it comes to building stuff, but things have to be done
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You’ll feel like Matt Damon on Mars, only being able to grow Potatoes at the moment…

But the atmosphere is great so far in the game and all those dogs (which, for now, seem to always be peaceful) are extremely scary and I was waiting for the moment when they went rabid. It never happened and I don’t really know if it will ever happen in this build, but certainly things will get better in the future. So will crafting and all those other amazing things that can be done to turn this game into an epic success… and I am sure it will happen.

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Nature’s calling… but at least he’s got more options than just a hole in the dirt!

EndCiv is now on Steam Greenlight and will most likely get greenlit very soon and then we’ll have the early access stage released to the public and I anticipate this one to be a huge success. But at the moment, with the current state of the game, there’s not a ton that you can do. Hopefully the devs will be injecting some extra content very soon and give us more crafting options, more items to play with and more fun times in the post-apocalypse. Right now, EndCiv is just the skeleton and it needs a lot of meat on those bones to remain memorable and to keep us playing for weeks. The good thing is that the skeleton itself is pretty much amazing and it shows a lot of promise and, judging from the start that the game has made, it will be pretty awesome.

Does that sound like a fair deal? Well... you can't be too picky!
Does that sound like a fair deal? Well… you can’t be too picky!

It’s really awesome as it is right now in it’s early Alpha, even though I can’t keep my survivors alive for long enough to get to the later stages of the game (apparently, other survivors will come and make your life even more miserable and you’ll have the chance to fight them!) But I plan to keep on playing and keep an eye for the game’s release on Steam. I certainly gave it my vote on Steam Greenlight and you should do the same. Just trust me on this – EndCiv’s going to be EPIC!

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture Review

In the 5-6 hours it took me to unravel the mysteries within Chinese Room’s Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, I found myself experiencing an abundance of feelings. Confusion, wonder, despair and pity all overwhelmed me as despite it’s seemingly simple premise, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture’s story turned out to be deceivingly intricate.

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture is set in an abandoned, post-apocalyptic rendition of fictional Yaughton Valley in Shropshire (England). The player must explore the valley, interacting with phones and radios in the area in order to uncover the nitty-gritty details of the apocalyptic event. Alongside the various means of telecommunications the player may interact with for guidance and information, there are also fascinating orbs of light that accompany and loosely lead the player throughout the game. Occasionally, these orbs trigger various visions of once residents of the valley. Although some visions are initiated naturally, others must be activated. This is done by tilting the controller in order to tune the frequency of the orb, in a sense. When done correctly, surroundings will darken as if night has fallen and the the recollection of past events will play out. Using a combination of the past events visualized and the information from radios and phones, the player must piece together a timeline of events, in order to try to unveil the primary cause of the disappearance of an entire valley.

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Unsettling Setting

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture’s setting is a key aspect to maintaining interest and intensity throughout a evidently slow-paced playthrough. The peaceful and tranquil setting can become almost uncomfortable at times in contrast with the dark and sinister plot of the game. I mean, come on, the 1980’s village setting is eerie enough in itself, let alone with no trace of life anywhere. The setting is equally brilliant for toying with the players ideas of what could have happened. Everything seems untouched, cigarettes sit in ashtrays as if left mid smoke, picnics left prepped upon hilltops, there is no real trail of destruction. This consequently will truly lead the player into questioning the reasoning behind the apocalyptic occurrence.

Finally, there is the matter of how aesthetically pleasing the setting is generally speaking, With lack of human existence, Yaughton Valley appears so pure and naturally rich. Accompanied by an outstanding and extremely haunting soundtrack by composer Jessica Curry, the ambiance of the setting is almost melancholy despite it’s apparent beauty.  The setting as a whole is so well developed by Chinese Room and just adds an important level of depth and emotion to Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture.

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Getting In On The Gossip

Throughout playing Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, the player will encounter apparitions of light – as mentioned prior, in the form of a select few former residents of the valley. These characters include a parishioner at war with himself, a couple – both of which being scientists, an owner of a holiday camp on the valley outskirts, a farmer and also a pushy mother that is renowned for almost watching over the Valley residents. Not only will the player indulge in these stories for their significance in ultimately piecing together what happened, but also for investigating how each story intertwines with the next, gradually developing a more vivid idea of the timeline of events leading up the apocalypse and the many personal questions looming over the residents. The fun in this is derived from the lack of structure to the assortment of information provided. The structure must be the players own. I’d have a notebook ready if I were you.

The characters within Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture are well developed and casted and in being so are easy to revel in. As mentioned briefly before, the complex and riveting stories of the characters within the game are vitally important due to the generally slow-paced style in which the game plays out. There is no combat or particularly fast movement within the gameplay. However, the intensity of the story compensates wonderfully. As you rush between visions and feeds of information, it becomes easy to forget the whole ideal of finding answers as you almost become lost in the soap opera unfolding between the characters you meet.

Towards the end of the game, the player will feel inclined to a great feeling of satisfaction. Their theories on what could have happened are revealed to be correct or not alongside the many loose ends of the stories throughout are tied. They can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Emotionally Ensnared 

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture is a game orientated around making the player ‘feel’. To say it accomplishes just that is an understatement. To compare a game that had me feeling how this game made me feel, I could only use Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us. This is mainly because it is the only game that has left me feeling so empty upon it concluding. Despite Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture’s finale, as I watched the credits roll to the hymnal music, I felt uncertain despite having all my questions answered, feeling the only way I could fill the void the game had left within me would be by playing a second time.

Alongside the ending there is the span of emotions the residents’ stories and radio installments will make the player feel. As they come to terms with the relationships between the characters, they will be overcome with feelings ranging from pity to anger to happiness. It is all really overwhelming to be quite honest.

Overall, throughout the player’s journey through Yaughton Valley, it is apparent there is a prominent feeling of fear as the player will no doubt question how they play and proceed throughout the game as if they were living the events occurring within the game for themselves.

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All In All  

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture does well to exhibit that a game does not require intense, hands-on combat, a dangerous and unpredictable setting or even ‘living’ characters in order to be a wonderfully emotional and memorable game. Developers masterfully ensure players have guidance if required via the orbs of light, but can also explore the post-apocalyptic setting to their own leisure if they wish. With its primary focus being enlightenment of the unknown, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture is quite a frightening and uncomfortable game. The setting, Yaughton Valley in which most residents live in each others pockets, aware of one another’s business is perfect for making the game more believable and all the more creepy in being so.

Despite the profound sense of emptiness I felt upon finishing this game, I would still recommend it to anyone that loves a game with the ability to not only test you mentally, but to also truly make you feel.