Launching on to Steam Early Access this week was multiplayer survival game, SCUM. Developed by Gamepires and Published by Devolver Digital, the game takes a hardcore simulation approach to the survival genre, forcing players to deal with NPCs, other players, and even their own bodily functions. The game is also breaking sales records, with Devolver proudly announcing that SCUM is their biggest launch ever. That’s a big claim coming from a publisher who has previously put out amazingly successful game franchises such as Hotline Miami, Serious Sam, and Shadow Warrior. We also know that SCUM sold 250,000 units in less than 24 hours thanks to the developers Twitter feed.
And SCUM is already our biggest launch ever. Congrats to @Gamepires!
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) August 29, 2018
After spending some time with SCUM, I totally understand its appeal and the success that it’s seeing. SCUM taps into that hardcore survival crowd and then ramps every dial up to 11. The game is still in Early Access and there are plenty of ways for the game to improve and expand. Although even in its current state, SCUM manages to reach a level of mechanical depth that eclipses the games that came before it. From monitoring your digestive system and tracking your nutrient intake, to calculating your own momentum and stopping speed based on velocity and weight . Yea, SCUM actually goes into that level of insane depth.
Learning the complexities of SCUM’s systems will take time, so this isn’t a game for the feint of heart. Although the game certainly would appeal to a more dedicated audience. All of your standard survival mechanics exist here as well, such as the ability to loot, craft, equip, and shoot your way to victory. A vast open world full of natural resources is available for you to explore. And you’ll need to play smart and hard to survive against the elements, other players, and zombies.
A game like SCUM lives or dies by its playerbase. Whilst the game can be played solo, it’s the experience of running into other players, teaming up, and getting into spear fights that really takes the game to another level. Thankfully that playerbase is currently flourishing and even as an Australian I found multiple official SCUM servers with very low ping and full of players. That’s a rarity, sometimes even for AAA games. You can chat in game as well with the chat functionality based on distance, so eavesdropping on unsuspecting players is a totally viable options. Base-building exists in a rudimentary state although this is one element that will be fleshed out further during Early Access development.
Inventory management is a big part of the game. Searching your surroundings for loot and crafting equipment based on the natural resources around you will play a very important role. Monitoring your status icons is also a big deal, as it is in many survival games. Although it’s in these status metres that SCUM manages to go so much further than any other game in the genre. Your typical survival game may have a hunger metre that would require you to eat every so often. Although SCUM actually tracks your intake of food from the stomach, to the intestines, and through to the bladder and colon. You will need to defecate on a regular basis, depending on how much you ate of course. And your character can get fatter or thinner depending on your eating habits. Sometimes SCUM feels like it goes too far and can be very daunting in its approach to complex simulation, although there is clearly a crowd ready and eager for that level of management.
The game’s Steam page itself has 11 videos helping you to get a grasp of the game’s complex mechanics. From character creation, to combat, to inertia, to fame, to how quickly layers of clothing dry on and off the body. SCUM feels like one of those games that will be a constant learning experience, where you can be hundreds of hours in and still discovering new things. What’s even more exciting or daunting (depending on your perspective) is how much further the game has to go. The basic systems may be in place although there is so much more yet to come. The game is Early Access in a literal sense, with features on the horizon yet to be implemented. For those who want a feature complete game, SCUM won’t be right for you. Although jumping in early will give you the advantage of learning the mechanics as they slowly add them to the game.
SCUM is a decently polished experience, at least up to the standard of similar games. For those wondering about the technical side of player movement, combat, or lag issues, I’d say everything holds up amicably. There’s a huge world to explore and a lot of fellow players to explore it with. The real question is whether or not you can push past the initially frightening and intimidating mechanics to enjoy the game for what it is.