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Pamela

Pamela - Early Access Impressions

System Shock and Bioshock meet every survival game ever in the new Early Access horror title from Nvyve Studios.

  • Text: Ford James

Most non-linear survival games opt for ravaged cities or desolate wastelands. Not P.A.M.E.L.A. (or Pamela as we're going to call it from now on). Set in the futuristic utopian city of Eden, the player-character is a 'Sleeper', awoken from cryosleep after the population is infected with an unknown disease that makes them hostile, throwing the idealistic city into disarray.

Eden has six main areas you can respawn from, but only three are currently available. You start in the medical bays, where there isn't much of a hostile threat, provided you don't trigger the 'security' by failing to hack a locked container.

Most hostile enemies are human in appearance, but move with an unnerving stagger and make the traditional gargle we've come to know and love from most zombie survival games. They're creepy from afar, but when you get up close and personal, they'll drop like a sack of potatoes after a dozen hits or so. Your first encounter will appear before you even know there's an enemy, as the game kindly tells you what button to press to throw a few right and left hooks before you turn the corner. After that, they're dotted about the place and never seem to be too grouped together, so it's easy to take your time and only fight one enemy at a time.

PamelaPamela

While the game is fairly open world after the first 15 minutes or so, it doesn't sacrifice the story. There's over 100 voice recordings dotted about from Pamela that explain her story and the background of Eden, but it doesn't explain exactly what's happened to cause the majority of the population to be infected with this disfiguring disease that makes them so unpredictable and hostile. They're not the only enemy either; robots and drones patrol the city, some actively hostile while some will put you to sleep and transport you to the rehabilitation area where you'll have to find your way out of, avoiding more drones and hostiles as you explore.

If there's one thing Pamela does well, it's how the atmosphere constantly has you on the edge of your seat. This isn't a laid back, casual survival game; you have to be aware, listening out for shuffling footsteps and muffled moans, or the hum of a patrolling robot with their ominous blue lights. You can't just dash around corners like a whirling dervish, every step you take has to be methodical and careful.

Since the game is set in a city, there's little in the way of vast, open areas. This means that while it's open world, it feels very claustrophobic and once you've explored a little and got your bearings, you can start working out the optimal route from landmark to landmark. Don't always take the fastest route though; it's a survival game after all, so looting all you can find and consuming enough food and drink to stay alive is of utmost importance.

PamelaPamela

The same goes for setting up a base. While looting, you'll find various building components that can be placed together to make your standard survival game-esque den. Just having four walls and a door isn't enough though, as the infected hostiles and robots can easily get in and find you. You'll need to find the right materials to give your base power, to then create a shield around your newfound home. In the game's current state it's not particularly worth it though, as the world is reset every time you die; permadeath is mandatory and there's nothing you can do about it (you do keep your XP and the stuff you've unlocked on the skill tree, but nothing else). Especially since the building components take up a huge amount of space in your limited inventory, you're better off role-playing a nomad in the city of Eden until the game is in a more evolved state.

When you do get confronted by a robot or infected, combat isn't particularly captivating. Guns and weapons don't seem easy to come across so early on at least, most of your fighting will be done with your fists. Spacebar and a direction will allow you to dodge in different directions, but as long as you block when necessary and don't let your stamina bar run out, it's pretty easy to beat most enemies without taking too much damage. Thankfully, if you're sneaky, it's possible to avoid most enemies, although they're often guarding some decent loot so depending on your current status, the odds may favour engaging in combat.

Pamela attempts to mix up the survival genre by adding a strong horror vibe and opting for the city of Eden, but in its current state that doesn't really do it any favours. Sluggish controls and numerous bugs means it's more of a chore to play than anything, even though the world does look gorgeous; the way the light breaks through the environment and casts shadows helps the tense atmosphere tenfold. There's a lot of promise here, but there's a long way to go until the game offers up something truly worth investing your time in.

Pamela
Pamela
Pamela
Pamela