Available On: PC
Developer: NVYVE Studios
Publisher: NVYVE Studios
Genre: First-person Survival
Official Site: Pamelagame.com
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Where To Buy: Steam
When I first heard of P.A.M.E.L.A., I was excited by the prospect of it sounding like Bioshock meeting Dead Space for a lovely horror, story-driven experience. A first-person shooter set in a survival-horror space scene? That’s right up my alley! Unfortunately, the only word in that description that truly describes is experience is “survival”, while the rest simply fade away.
P.A.M.E.L.A. is an early access game on Steam from developer NVYVE. You play as a person who wakes up in a containment pod and is thrust into a scientific facility filled with all the makings of a functional society, from medical facilities to military schooling to a shopping mall. But instead of being filled with color and life, this station is dark and fairly empty, only filled with computer messages, bodies kept in a sort of stasis, deranged enemies, and most importantly, audio diaries from an AI named P.A.M.E.L.A.
Overall, the gameplay requires the player to explore the facility in an open world scenario where you collect whatever you can out of either containers you scan or the remains of deformed enemies you defeat. Using these collected materials, you can set traps, expand your arsenal and inventory, upgrade your outfit, and finally, the pinnacle focus of the game, keep yourself alive. Since it is primarily a survival game, P.A.M.E.L.A. requires players to constantly monitor their vitals, including hunger, thirst, and stamina. Not doing so leads you to a much more difficult experience, and inevitably, death. Upon death, the game allows you to upgrade your abilities in order to better survive your next run.
In all honesty, I don’t understand the appeal of survival based games that equate gameplay to making sure you don’t starve to death. My first run in P.A.M.E.L.A. lasted around a half an hour before my stamina decided to stop regenerating as I got into combat. Adding this into my dying of thirst, and it made for a fairly quick playthrough. My second playthrough lasted a few hours, as I began to learn what things I had to collect and which I could ignore. Each time I spawned, I found a way to last longer in the world. This would be great if there were things to do in Eden, the world you wake up in, but unfortunately, as it’s in early access, there’s basically nothing to accomplish outside of not dying.
The game has a pretty stellar vibe to it, and the Unity engine helps make the game’s environments ascetically pleasing for the most part. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much for the character models, as every enemy you fight is a variation of three or four different identical characters. The combat also feels fairly boring and tedious. If you boiled down an Elder Scrolls game’s combat to its core of punching and backing up when things attack, you’d have an accurate description of the fights in P.A.M.E.L.A. While the game gives you the option to use weapons, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to actually use any of them, despite them being attached to my character. This means that I was basically playing Mike Tyson through the entire game, punching people in the face until their death, which gets increasingly boring without experience upgrades or objectives to work towards.
I did enjoy that the environment that P.A.M.E.L.A.‘s early access gives the player a chance to explore is filled with several interconnected floors that each feel relevant to the society created. Each floor I explored looked different enough for me to not feel lost, and though many of the shops and rooms held nothing of value, I understood why they would be in this facility. But the game’s major strength is finding the P.A.M.E.L.A. audio logs. Since there are no other objectives to accomplish (and I genuinely mean none), the audio logs begin to give the sole connection to another character in the game, and what a wonderfully interesting character she is. The voice of the AI comes in the form of a younger female who is trying to relate to the world she finds herself and her experience was one that I was truly interested in learning more about.
Being in early access, I’d be amiss if I didn’t point out that there are a collection of bugs and some fairly game breaking glitches. Numerous enemies I fought had a fairly terrible game-AI and would run into obstacles indefinitely or let me hit them over barriers. Upon death, certain bodies will bug out and seize into the environment. Even my inventory interface had a weird zoom effect that prevented me from viewing my survival stats, which meant I had to guess what the alerts were trying to tell me.
In relation to other survival games like Ark. Survival Evolved, I enjoyed the direction that P.A.M.E.L.A was going in streamlining the survival process, even if it isn’t done in a very presentable manner. I understand the concept of early access, but even still, this game feels like it’s missing all the elements that could make it enjoyable. With a lack of story, objectives, comfortable combat, and technical prowess, P.A.M.E.L.A. has not won me over to be a supporter of survival games. It still definitely needs quite a bit of work.
- Gameplay: Boring and repetitive with no clear objectives
- Graphics: Interesting environments, but poor character models
- Sound: Eerie silence mixed with occasions of fair combat music, repetitive voice lines from characters
- Presentation: Definitely a work in progress towards a potentially okay game
- Streamlined survival elements
- A potential for a cool character in P.A.M.E.L.A.
- Upgrades that make the game easier upon death
- Poor gameplay and fight elements
- No real story or objectives
- Technical bugs, sometimes game-breaking