The survival genre has exploded in the PC market with many developers releasing games that require players to survive a harsh climate. Rarely do these titles ever experiment with the formula in an interesting way, especially when multiplayer is involved. Enter developer Outpost Games Inc.’s SOS, a survival game dressed in the trappings of a reality show. Think Survivor, only in this show people are gunned down or mauled to death by mutants.
Players create their own reality show contestant and are then tasked with retrieving one of three relics hidden away on a mysterious island. The problem is there are 16 contestants in total so only three people can make it off the island safely. What follows is a surprisingly compelling social experiment where users bargain, backstab, and bludgeon their way to victory. However, while it was a lot of fun running around the island, SOS has a few problems that are already creeping to the surface. Yet, this game is certainly worth taking a look at, especially if you have friends to play it with.
(Author’s Note: This is an Early Access preview of SOS and may not be representative of the final product.)
At its core, SOS is a game of negotiation and deception. Players are able to form teams (allies) with random users on the island by simply giving them a high five. This not only gives users strength in numbers but can serve as a way to easily acquire important gear like medical supplies or firearms. However, you can have more than three people in a team, which can lead to some awkward moments where you have to decide who gets the final relic. It’s a lot of fun and it sells the reality show concept of eccentric personalities making deals with people to further their own agenda.
The survival mechanics have also, thank the reality TV gods, been toned down. You won’t have to contest with a hunger or thirst meter. Instead, the mechanics are focused on treating any infection you’ll get from the angry mutants roaming the island or simply recovering health. It’s just enough to make the gameplay more engaging, but not to the point where it overshadows the rest of the title. Drop rates for items also feel fairly balanced, with guns and ammo not being readily available from the start. Overall, SOS has a very strong foundation, but it requires refinement and some quality of life additions.
One of biggest issues with SOS is the game is very reliant on all the players having a mic. There is no text chat, so users have to speak to one another. While most people won’t have an issue with this, it does make for an awkward experience if you don’t have a mic or feel like talking. I understand communication in this title is key, but having secondary options, such as a more robust emote wheel, would be useful.
Aiming with guns could also use some tweaking since the game lacks an aim down sights mechanic. Weapons don’t feel really accurate and since ammo is extremely scarce this can lead to some awkward moments. Gun battles are not as thrilling as it would appear since most people just fire wildly at once another. It would also be nice to have a bit more weight behind the weapons you use. Right now, using the hatchet or knife comes down to just flailing wildly while aiming in the vague direction/body part of your opponent.
Finally, I am hopeful that SOS will introduce more maps before the final launch. Right now all players have to explore is a singular tropical island. Currently, this level hasn’t grown stale, but I can see it becoming very tedious to keep playing the same location. Given the reality show setting, there is a myriad of other areas that could serve as alternate locations.
Where SOS really shines is in the reality TV show trappings it’s covered almost every aspect of the game with. From the opening cinematic that feels ripped right out of a real show, to the game having an opening moment where the players can introduce themselves. It all works and allows SOS to feel completely different from other survival based games. There are a plethora of different additions and alterations that Outpost Games Inc. could inject into this survival formula. We are really looking forward to seeing where SOS goes with this and hope that it continues to lean into the cheesy, ridiculous nature of it all.
As it stands, SOS is a fun game for those who don’t mind vocally interacting with others. While you can play in pairs – which is honestly ideal – there is enough fun to be had as a solo player. However, the game does have some room to grow as parts are refined and balanced. I’d keep an eye out for this game as it progresses, especially if you are looking for something a bit different.