It strikes me as unusual that so many survival games are solitary misadventures. It allows for greater focus on simply not dying, I guess; but the stakes are so much higher when more than one person is at risk. Adding more people into the mix offers the potential for exploring how relationships develop under stress, or how people fall into the roles of followers and leaders. And there’s something compelling about seeing loose groups of people coming together to overcome ridiculous odds.
That’s why I’m really rather excited about Before, despite only knowing a tiny bit about it. It’s a prehistoric survival game focusing on a struggling tribe of humans. And there are mammoths! I do love a good woolly mammoth. It almost ran the risk of not being anything more than an interesting concept, but Facepunch Studios, developer of Rust and Garry’s Mod, liked it so much the brought creator Bill Lowe into the fold.
Before pits a prehistoric tribe against merciless nature. Foraging for food, maintaining shelter, fending off predators – it’s a daily struggle for these rather adorable looking folk. And one has to think of the children, too! Wee babies are notoriously shit at surviving wolf attacks. As are big babies, like myself.
Surviving doesn’t just mean cheating death, though. A tribe that feeds itself and protects itself from the wilderness can grow, and this is where Before sounds properly intriguing. The tribe can settle and start taking the first footsteps into civilisation. How they interact with the world around them changes, and then hierarchies form alongside religions and new rituals.
Facepunch’s Garry Newman became a bit enamoured with the project, and when it looked like Lowe would have to can it because he didn’t have the time or money, Newman hired him and told him he could pick a team.
It’s being developed on Unity, and a playable alpha is in the works.