Another open sandbox themed game is available to PC and Mac users with the recent release of Better Late Than Dead. Upon hearing the title of the game, I figured it would be some sort of apocalyptic/zombie themed game. However, that is only slightly the case. The game is based on a character (who actually asks himself “Who am I?”) that has been abandoned on an island and must find a way to survive/get off said island. Along the way, there are a number of secrets about the island and why the character has been left their that the user must discover on their own.
The game opens with a few images of how the character got there. The main character was on a boat within a coffin when he is thrown off the boat where he eventually floats to the shore of the island where he must find out how to survive. I kinda expected to be playing as Tom Hanks and be hanging out with Wilson on the beach.
As the main character you’re dropped off on the shore of a deserted island with a backpack that is coincidentally empty. You must search the island for different supplies such as food, a water source, fire, weapons, and other various objects that you can craft into other useful items. This initially was quite frustrating because with the lack of context, it is confusing as to what your purpose is on this island. Not to mention, you start off with nothing and need to quickly find a quick way to quench your thirst and find food.
According to reviews, in each new game you may spawn differently allowing for the character to find items at different times. When I was initially dropped off, I had a coconut, a bottle of water, and a melon fruit. Apparently some scenarios people started with or found a knife and or a lighter (I wish I was that guy). Along with having to fend for yourself on food and water, the player must find shelter and defend themselves against weather and animals. Despite being what looks like a tropical island, there are misplaced brown bears, deers, and alligators on the island that provide a food source as well as clues to the mystery of the island that you have been stranded on.
As you progress through the game, you will find more clues, a number of body bags, abandoned structures, and other discoveries that potentially should help solve the mystery of the island and ideally get you off said island. I’ve logged nearly an hour and I’ve only managed to figure out how to make a fire, some shelter, and get food and water. Hunting is a bit tricky with the third-person interface and the animals are few and far between right now. While I assume the mystery will continue to be solved, I get the feeling that the game may be a lot of walking and finding tidbits of information while playing Man vs. Wild.
The game is a lot more sophisticated than Minecraft, but it’s also no Grand Theft Auto. The graphics are actually pretty good for a sandbox game on a low budget and it seems like there will be a variety of items that you will be able to acquire and craft. The island and game itself are quite eerie and while exploring you truly feel lost. There actually ends up being multiple islands that you can explore with a large variety of things your character can do. Along with having a number of taks to do on the island, you can utilize a large number of supplies there in a number of ways. The game has a unique crafting feature that allows the user to pick up objects on the island and combine them with other objects to create another new object (for example a long stick and some fire you can make a torch or a stick and a knife makes a spear). By exploring the island, you enable yourself to not only find new landscapes, but to also create other opportunities for new gadgets.
The game lacks a map feature, which although you are lost, there is no way that you can determine where you have and have not been. While the creator did do a good job in making sure it wasn’t a cakewalk of a game, it’s not exactly a game you can just pick up and do a ton with. It takes time to figure out your purpose and what you can and can’t do in the game so you should expect to invest some time into the game.
Overall, I initially was skeptical of what to expect from the game. I thought that the game would be no different than any other survival type game, and that there would be a lack of things to do on the island. However, the island’s mystery and the vastness of the sandbox island allows for a large number of possibilities and an infinite number of possibilities. While I am sure there is a definite end to the game, it also seems to be possible to just explore the island and test out different strategies and tool crafting.
Better Late Than Dead was developed by Odin Game Studio and published by Merge Games and Excalibur. It is currently available on the Steam Store.