A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mist Survival is a downloadable survival simulation game for Windows PCs. The gameplay takes place after a virus turns most of the population into frightening, mindless monsters. The game's in Early Access, which means it's still in development and as such, could lack or change its features over time. It could also mean that players could interact with technical issues until these are ironed out closer to the game's final released version. Players hunt animals for meat while fighting infected humans and bandits with knives, guns, and bows in bloody combat. Among other things, players can scavenge pain killers and alcohol. During “mist events,” players are hunted by infected humans and the game contains sudden scares and sequences of utter darkness.
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What's it about?
MIST SURVIVAL is a survival sim that lets players loose in a rural, post-apocalyptic area with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Safe places are few in this pandemic-shattered world, and the few folks still living must scavenge their way back to some form of civilization. Players alternate between gathering raw materials and crafting them into useful items, such as weapons, clothing, furniture, medicine, and food. After that, the idea is to construct an impenetrable stronghold for protection against the monsters (human and otherwise) that roam the countryside. In addition to crafting and resource gathering, players can hunt, farm, mine, and forge. Players with a Good Samaritan streak can also rescue survivors from bandit camps, thus gaining allies in the fight for survival.
Is it any good?
Survival sims are big these days, and competition among them is fierce, but this unfinished sim plays less like a game and more like a proof-of-concept with its weak story and bland world. Expectations in Mist Survival are set low by a short intro describing an end-of-the world scenario you've heard a million times before. After the intro, you're set down in a bland woodland landscape with no specific mission other than to survive. During the day you gather things -- canned goods, stones, sticks, bits of metal -- and craft them into things that can protect, heal, or nourish you. When darkness falls, you hide. Admittedly, hiding all night can be boring (even though the game's on a sped-up day/night cycle) but the Infected roam at night, and confronting them directly is a quick way to die.
Despite the possibility of death, tension is generally low here, which is strange for a survival sim. During the day, Infected are easy to avoid, and while a sudden bear appearance or bandit camp can get your heart beating, those too can be easily avoided. The most thrilling moments—in fact, the best part of the game—is when the mist comes rolling in. The Infected hunt in the mist, so when it comes and you're far from your shelter, it's truly frightening. The problem is that there just isn't enough of that feeling. In fact, the overwhelming feeling is boredom. Endless cycles of gathering and crafting and simple interactions with other characters quickly becomes monotonous. Exploration doesn't help, since all you'll find are more empty buildings and burned out cars. Worst of all are the load times. It takes ages just to start the game, and load times make dying even more punishing than it already is. Ultimately, what Mist Survival has to offer right now is a set of basic mechanics that lack finesse, surprises, and narrative context. Until that's fixed in the final retail version of the game, Mist Survival currently stands as a half-baked experience that proves the (paraphrased) saying, “man (and survival sims) don't live by bread alone.”
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the perils of buying Early Access games. Do your kids understand they're buying an unfinished - and thus technically-challenged or unsatisfying product? How willing are you and your kids to pay for other products that are still under construction?
Do your kids like interacting with developers and seeing their suggestions incorporated into unfinished video games?
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