At its worst Survive can feel like a chore – especially slogging through endless tutorials in its opening hours – but once you click into the rhythm things get a lot better. At its best, Survive can feel like a zombie-infested Harvest Moon: keeping well stocked for harsh times, maintaining your farm, getting food cooked and water boiled, all whilst upgrading your base into the best verision of itself it can be. All of these systems make for an engaging, addictive little loop, hampered only by Survive’s sometimes miserly progression and some odd choices for micro transactions. $10 for an extra save slot is just… gross.
The sharp presentation of MGS is alive and well in Survive, and whilst it’s not nearly as over the top or snazzy as it once was, it still oozes more style than most games can ever hope to achieve. Cutscenes are fun, if a little bloated, thanks in a large part to a character creator that churns out good looking leads that don’t suffer from the same jankiness other recent titles have output.
From detailed, clean character models to an incredibly easy to read world, Survive makes sure to promote only the most important visual information. The map does feel a little lifeless and under-designed at times because of this however, and it comes across as a fairly lacklustre open world in an age where they’re becoming more wonderfully crafted than ever, but I still appreciated the straight-to-the-point nature of Survive’s design. Textures are muddied and dull upon closer inspection, however, and the world is conveniently shrouded by a fog-o-war, both of which I find far less easy to forgive.
The music behind each scene is great, though fades during most gameplay and never makes as much of a splash as the Phantom Pain’s killer soundtrack. Sound effects however are as over-the-top and as punchy as they’ve ever been, and I absolutely cannot get enough of them. It’s like they’re ripped straight out of a 90s anime, and with each button press, punch or menu select you’re transported to another world where everything is really, really exaggerated. I absolutely love them.
The fantastic engine and gameplay from MGS5 was too good to stay confined in one game – especially one so bogged down by corporate upheaval and a controversial ‘end’ – so I’m glad to see its systems put to good use here. Even after Survive’s 30-odd hour campaign I don’t think we’ve seen enough of this overly polished, smart, fun foundation, and I hope that, despite the backlash of Survive’s direction, we see Konami continue to iterate on the MGS franchise. It’s far too good a ship to go down with its captain.
- 1 2