Platform: Windows, Steam
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Horror, FPS, Action, MMO
Players: Multiplayer 1-
Written by Whistler 4th July 2014
Lately the survival MMO hybrid genre has seen steady surge of popularity with titles like Rust, Stomping Lands and Day Z (which was once a mod of Arma 2 and is now underway with its own standalone transformation) rising in popularity. Of course with every genre’s sudden spike in popularity comes wave after wave of developers stepping up to the ring to see if they can claw out some territory and rise victorious within the flooded genre.
One such developer that goes by the name of Phosphor Games has stepped up to the arena with their weapon of choice, Nether.
From what I could gather, Nether spent a good half of a year in Steam’s Early Access phase where it took a lot of criticism (both fair and unfair); so after its release in early June this year has it pulled through, has the trials of early access done it any good and most importantly, how does Nether shape up now?
Honestly Nether has had my opinions going back and forth since I first picked it up on release, there’s a lot of potential and plenty of creative ideas but this survival horror hybrid has its fair share of hiccups all over the spectrum.
Personally I feel Phosphor Games’ project was not quite ready to take off the early access wheels, the game feels very much like it’s somewhere in the late beta/gamma stages and still needs plenty of work done like fixing balance issues, perhaps tuning down to difficulty for new comers, some optimizations, stabilizations and a proper tutorial would be nice too; however at the same time Nether is still a pretty enjoyable package assuming you’re willing to give it some leeway for the time being.
Personally I really like this concept as it allows players to reconvene somewhere easy to distinguish, allows for them to stop and start playing somewhere that won’t get them killed, and creates an area for players to naturally develop cooperation by meeting in these no-
Likewise for having places to sell and buy loot, while you can’t just directly buy a gun and some ammo, you can buy supplies and trade spoils of your hunts like a handful of spines for a handgun or some blood and bones for ammo. This along with the game’s levelling up system allows for steady progression once you’ve figured out the basics. As mentioned you start with very little, however with every kill and every minute you stay alive you will slowly rank up those experience points allowing you to increase your stamina, gain new abilities and carry more loot so you can better handle yourself in a fight rather than swing for dear life every time.
You see being able to level up and gain new feats just feels like a perfect way to hook players and provide a very organic growth. The longer you stay alive the more familiar you’ll be to the point you can bravely set foot outside the safe zone without crouching everywhere in fear that the lowliest of enemies might kill you, the only problem is getting there.
Starting out with no prior knowledge will likely see you dead in seconds, several times I might add, with no clear working tutorial (at least last I checked) you’re forced to wing it for a fair while till you figure things out which really does harm the experience especially since seeing as this is an survival horror MMO means you’re easy prey for players who have already got to ropes with the system.
While it’s largely a mechanic survival MMO’s have never bothered to change, I feel Nether needs to ease players in rather than dumping them into the game with no knowledge of what they’re supposed to do. I mean hell, my first experience was dropping into the safe zone to find it’s under attack (I’ll get into that next) and dying several times as I had no clue what was going on which had me almost insta-
Nether implements a clever system to shake things up where safe zones are randomly attacked, the Nether protection devices fail turning the safe zones into death traps where hordes of never ending hell beasts will hunt any players down until the devices are repaired. At first I hated this as safe zones became hell hole where experienced players would take great pleasure in grieving me and others for easy experience and loot but at the same time when the concept works and everyone works together, it creates some natural and epic cooperation where the tension rises every passing moment you try to find the devices to repair.
While other survival MMOs and especially survival horror’s that utilize the post apocalypse theme tend to just have a rather bland world that just serves as something to walk on, Nether instead sports an interesting backdrop similar to that seen in the STALKER and Metro series with overgrown plant life and long forgotten ruins. The immersion created does occasionally get broken by clipping, the occasional objects that have no physical presence or invisible walls and especially the frame rate drops in certain areas, but overall I really love the world the devs have created with this game.
There are issues that need to be cleared up though; besides what was already mentioned, while it’s great that Nether offers an experience for both combat enthusiasts and those prefering to immerse themselves into the world via sneaking; enemies have a nasty habit of noticing the player from miles away, get stuck in walls or even clip through them. While there’s merchants and such that allow you buy/trade items, sadly looting in the open isn’t as good, while in Day Z you could find so many items naturally lying around, in Nether you find random glowing objects like cars or dumpsters which hold random items that are usually useless and barely worth anything.
While others have dismissed this title due to fanboyism or a couple of bugs, I personally recommend this title so long as you’re a bit more forgiving of glitches or willing to wait till the game gets ironed out a bit more.
I mean really the only two things I wished for would have been a proper introduction into the game when I started and a PVE server so I no longer get angry because Mic Douchebag didn’t just ruing my fun.
Nether still as a ways to go, but if you’re looking for a survival horror MMO experience and not sure what to pick then I’d recommend it so long as they touch up some points and add more content.
Very atmospheric and varied world,
Good survival elements,
Daunting for newcomers,
No proper tutorial or introduction,
Bug and glitches still to be ironed out.
Nether goes back and forth but settles on a 7 out of 10 for now.