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So what is subsistence? Well, it is described as a sandbox PvE open-world survival game. It is published and developed by ColdGames and is available on steam early access, as a first-person shooter and can be played either solo or co-op. Your character spawns in a large contained area which includes lakes, streams and mountains and appears to be based in Canada. There is no storyline as to why you are there or quests to complete or even really an end game. It is all about survival. On top of the aggressive wildlife of bears, cougars and wolves with moose adding further threat during the rutting season, there are AI hunters that you have to compete against once your base has the BCU (Base Control Unit) installed.
When setting up a game there are various options which include turning the hunters off (highly recommended for new players) or toning down the hunter’s aggression along with settings for the time of year to begin the game and how many in-game days make an in-game month. All of these settings are straightforward so it is very easy to set up a single-player game. On the downside, the Co-op feature is not easy at all and does need work and technical knowhow to get a reliable game where all can join started. This quite often involves having to use third party programs such as Hamachi or Team View. As this game is early access the Devs should fix this in time. Another issue is with the game timing. The default is two days equal a month so 24 days is a full year, this can be increased significantly, however, this creates more problems. In the default setting 24 days being all four seasons does not give the player a chance to get a base built, food stored, warmth and clothing sorted before the cold lean months set in. If you extend the number of days per month your character still runs out of food at the default rate, not a slower rate so you are constantly hungry, hunting or foraging. Again this should be balanced by the Devs in the future. So when finally starting a game the first thing you notice is the graphics. This game only requires DX 9 and plays on cards manufactured 10 years ago. The graphics are stunning, water and foliage textures are fantastic surpassing a lot of current games that need higher spec machines. Frame rates are high even on low-end PC’s. The next thing is that the wildlife in the game hates you. Rabbits, chickens and deer will leave you alone and often run away whilst bears, wolves and cougars give you a one vocal warning and if you don’t leave fast enough they’ll have you for dinner.
Subsistence also splits dietary needs into protein, hydration and fruits+vegetables. Until you can begin farming and crafting weapons you pretty much live off tree grubs and water weeds with the added problem of all water need to be boiled. Hunger is a big issue and can take new attempts at games before you find an area which allows fairly easy harvesting leaving enough time to build. Other than chickens and rabbits all other animals take multiple hits with bow or gun to kill and ammunition is scarce at the beginning so fishing is the most reliable way of keeping protein up. Of course, fishing takes time and you can`t build your base whilst fishing. Nighttime can cause problems with temperature especially outside of the summer months so the need for fire building and fire-starting materials become essential early on. So far this would appear to be a very negative review on the contrary the problems encountered make the game more challenging and more rewarding when you succeed. Balancing does need to be done but again this is early access.
Now for the really good points. Firstly you do not deforest the neighbourhood to get wood. Depending on the type of tree you get a certain amount of wood per tree which respawns over time so there is never a shortage. There are random spawns of crates and bags that supply crafting materials, food, ammunition etc which can keep you going. Also, some crates are locked these contain much more advanced materials or even weapons and can be accessed once you build lock picks. The crafting menu is straight forward with the beauty of the player setting up a list of tasks to do eg make planks or walls whilst the character can still run around hunting and gathering more resources and the tasks complete in the background. This does save time. If you can find a good location and survive the first few days it does become easier however, in this game never expect an abundance of resources.
Sustenance is currently available on Steam as early access with the potential shown already in the current builds it is well worth the current price and will most likely cost a lot more when complete. So if you like hardcore survival games where everything is a struggle then this game is for you.