Developer: NVYVE Studios
Publisher: NVYVE Studios
Genre: First-Person Survival Exploration
Available on: PC
Version Tested: PC
Official Site: https://nvyvestudios.com/games/pamela/
Release Date: June 18th, 2020
I recently played The Forest with a few friends of mine and honestly, that game is one of my favorite survival games out there. It has a lot to love in its exploration, base building, and survival mechanics. I didn’t have a lot I could’ve wished to see from it. That game gave me a bit more of an interest in trying some survival games more recently, and I came across P.A.M.E.L.A., a hardcore survival and exploration game. It looked like a unique and interesting concept and immediately caught my attention. With that in mind, I decided to tackle P.A.M.E.L.A. and see whether it would come close to The Forest.
P.A.M.E.L.A.’s Great Outlook but Poor Execution
P.A.M.E.L.A.’s story puts you in the shoes of a sleeper, a man awoken from cryosleep by P.A.M.E.L.A., Eden’s AI. You’re in a utopia, but nothing about this utopia is sunshine and rainbows. Everything’s been trashed and torn apart, with very few signs of life left. Alongside the AI, you must work to find a cure for an affliction the residents have been put under. This is by far one of the game’s strongest aspects. The premise is one seldom explored and makes for a unique idea. Moving through a sea of horrors and diseased people in a beautiful utopia is something you wouldn’t expect. It doesn’t exactly reward you with the game’s really poor ending, but it’s still a solid premise.
A lot of the way the game approaches its world-building relies on data logs and excerpts from P.A.M.E.L.A. herself before the utopia’s collapse. There’s a lot of things to listen to and read, but much of it isn’t entirely relevant. It might serve to interest some people, but more are likely going to tune out partway through. There’s roughly 150 audio logs, so a lot of just isn’t relevant. On the bright side, some of it does hint at what could’ve caused the utopia’s collapse later on. For the other 130 or so logs though, it feels like the team is trying to build more backstory than is necessary.
Graphics and Exploration
The game’s graphics are alright, offering visuals that are good enough but nothing special. Looking over the land of Eden from high up is interesting, as this utopia has some good landscapes. The individual graphics though are something you’d expect from the Unity engine, for better or worse. There could’ve been more work done here, but it works for its intended purpose. The biggest issue comes in the lighting, which is much darker than is really necessary. I get that it’s a game meant to be dark for horror, but it’s so dark that I’m stuck with a focused flashlight which can be hard on the eyes. Without a brightness option, the design choice was confusing.
P.A.M.E.L.A. does have a lot of areas to explore. Exploring these areas though quickly begins to feel like a chore, which is bad for an exploration game like this. There’s a lot of areas where the sections are copy-pasted, which ruins the sense of wonder. What’s the point of searching through new areas if they look the same as others with very minor differences? You might answer that with the necessity of supplies, but the fact that they respawn makes it pointless. The only upside I see is that you see the lore, but that has its problems.
Abysmal Combat and Optimization in P.A.M.E.L.A.
Despite what I’ve been saying here, these issues pale in comparison to P.A.M.E.L.A.‘s combat. I mean it when I say that this is easily some of the most clunky, unrefined combat I’ve seen in a while. Melee combat is incredibly inconsistent, meaning a lot of punches that should register just won’t. As well, their punches will miss when they shouldn’t and hit when they shouldn’t. The number of times I died and had to come back just to die again because melee was that inconsistent is countless. Then, when you finally have a ranged weapon, the aiming system is strange. The cursor isn’t at the center of your screen like every other shooter. None of this makes any sense. You’d expect these issues to be fixed after Early Access.
And last but certainly least, there’s the optimization and polish. My hardware is above what the minimum specs for P.A.M.E.L.A. are, and I still struggle to run the game at a consistent framerate. Not only that, but crashes are frequent. Every death or two the game will crash, and I’ll have to load for another lengthy amount of time to get back in. It’s a constant loop and it gets tiresome very quickly. As far as polish goes, that isn’t much better. AI will constantly get stuck and walk into walls, taking the immersion further away than it already was. Even the animations are buggy. There was a point where I learned the developer hadn’t coded in the ability to walk in water so I was walking on top of it. Admittedly, that’s something I’ve never seen before so it was baffling and humorous.
Verdict: P.A.M.E.L.A. is a game that, on the surface, looks incredibly intriguing. The visuals seem solid from the trailers, and the premise is a unique and interesting one that’s explored very little in media. Once you step one foot onto this glowing utopia though, the game begins to crack and everything falls apart. One has to wonder what was going on during the Early Access phase, seeing as this game could’ve easily used another few months in the oven. If you’re craving a survival game, P.A.M.E.L.A. isn’t the utopia you’re looking for.
- Great premise
- Decent graphics
- Unenjoyable exploration
- Bad ending
- Poor lighting
- Pointless world building
- Frustrating combat
- Terrible optimization