There’s been a big upsurge in survival-orientated games set in post-apocalyptic landscapes lately; The Last of Us, Rust and Day-Z all share a theme in common – it’s often better to avoid a fight to live another day. Technically you could go in guns blazing, but unless you want to end up as a wet smear on an otherwise bleak landscape it’s probably best not to. Barry Michael Collins, the creator of Ashen Rift: A Man and His Dog, is aiming to incorporate this theme into his game too, but he’s thrown a dog into the mix too.
A first person survival horror taking place in a twisted and unstable post-apocalyptic rural USA landscape, Ashen Rift follows “a man and his dog Bounder on their journey to get to the source of the Earths dire situation”. What is this situation? That’s what you’re on your way to find out; starting 25 miles out from the ‘Rift’, the rumoured cause of the creation of a mostly lifeless landscape, to try and sort this mess out. The problem is that you’re not going to get there without a fight.
Although you might, because the developer has created a system where you can approach a danger in your own way. He wants the player to examine their personalities and see if they can resist the temptation to surrender to their bloodlust. He wants to move away from “the trigger-happy standards” that normally come bundled with your average FPS. Ammo and guns will be scarce in this desolate world, so you’ll have to find another way to survive hostile encounters. If that means you’ll be stealthily avoiding them altogether then so be it.
The danger comes in the form of ‘Feeder’s’. These twisted monstrosities are the sill-live husks of what used to be men; their sole aim is to devour you and everything left in the world. You can attack them with ranged and melee attacks, but it’s the other ways you can deal with them that are more intriguing. You can dynamically change a given situation through a number of ways; be it deforming the terrain, throwing rocks to distract enemies or even forcing rocks to fall down onto unsuspecting enemies below. There are multiple ways to attack each situation, alongside multiple paths through the game.
Finally, there’s the dog. You can interact with Bounder through a circle menu, which gives you the ability to shout commands and alter his behaviour. He still has his own independent thoughts though; dynamically reacting to sights, sounds and smells that are engineered to get your attention.
Barry is obviously just one man, but he’s still managing to develop the game enough to give 5-6 hours of playtime. He says he’ll add more should he exceed his initial goal of $45,000. At the time of writing just $1,373 has been pledged, but with 33 days left there’s still a while to go yet.
Got a game going on or currently on Kickstarter/Steam Greenlight that you want me to take a look at? Just contact me and I’ll be glad to learn more.