Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Compelling opening anecdote to this review of video game Stranded: Alien Dawn

It's a review by Christopher Livingston for a base management/survival sim, but really a terrific short story starting with this:

Meet Jack, one of the colonists marooned on a strange planet in survival colony builder Stranded: Alien Dawn. In the gif above Jack is having a full-on meltdown in my base, punching and kicking a chair in extreme rage and frustration. I can't stop him. I can't control him. All I can do is wait it out. It's a sad sight, but what's even sadder is that once Jack calms down he's going to walk outside, gather some wood, and repair the same chair he just punched and kicked to splinters.

It's humiliating to break something in a fit of dumb rage and then have to do the labor required to repair it—I know this from experience—but there's no other option. That's because Jack is the only survivor left in my game. In fact, he's the only human left on the entire planet.

There's some good news, though. Believe it or not, this lonely marooned man beating up a chair is actually a success story instead of a disaster. My other survivors didn't die horribly from accidents or alien attacks or starvation brought on by my typical survival game negligence. They were rescued and left the planet safely. Now there's just Jack, who's waiting for his own rescue, but it's been almost a full year since the wait began. The base is falling apart. Jack is falling apart. I'm honestly not sure he's going to make it.