The Culling: Review

Written by: Jon Castillo

Games | Mar 12, 2016

Battle Royale esport Hunger Games The Culling

After watching the Japanese film, "Battle Royale," released on 2000, I thought, "Damn, this could make an awesome game." Eight years later, the "Hunger Games" became a thing. I still felt it was an awesome videogame concept.

Both "Battle Royale" and "Hunger Games" were seen as sports. So, it's only natural that a videogame of a sport about regular people forced to kill each other on an island should happen. A game that is raw, primal, and violent.

"The Culling" takes on the survival arena approach. You, the player, a regular person, not a gladiator of some sort, are kept in a box, and released somewhere in the middle of an island, with no food, items, or weapons whatsoever. You have to scour the terrain and empty buildings for any supply you may get. And somewhere out there, there are other people - player characters, doing the same, and the first thing they will do when meeting another player, is to use their makeshift cudgels and smash you with them.

That's the amazing part of it. It starts out quiet. The tension is already high, and you need to equip yourself as best as possible for a long melee series. You can scrape for resources on trees to get a branch, which provides a temporary club, which can also be used to turn into a blowgun. Other weapons include tasers, steel pipes, pickaxe, sledgehammers, the list goes on. There is no lack of creative violence in the game. Anything goes in here.

The island is vast enough. The trees are high and the grass is tall enough to provide cover. The lake is rich and swimmable, providing decent hiding locations. Sometimes you may stumble upon a cool weapon, which turns out to be a trap, cleverly laid out by another player. Nothing is to be trusted here.

Your first objective in the game is find weapons stashed inside buildings or in the containers scattered around, or make weapons from natural resources you may find lying around. It's a race amongst players to get the best possible gear before the killing begins.

Hunted players remain dead through the duration of the round; their corpse will remain on the battlefield, as a reminder that this could have been you. Their items are yours to claim. And this adds a valuable strategy to this in certain situations. Would you pursue your dying enemy before they heal up, or do you open a container before someone else does? Do you flee as far away as possible or do you try to grab the loot?

Combat is amazing. You can block some attacks. There is a "shove" move that will break enemy guard, allowing you to pummel them as much as possible before they regain their composure.

As if the "Hunger Games" reference couldn't spike up, there are drop-off points for drones that will come flying to your aid, carrying items. The setback is, other players will see the drone, and know exactly where you are, and yes, they will most likely attack your location and grab the loot for themselves.

Looking up in the sky, the current leaderboard is shown, letting you know how many players are still active. I honestly can't remember how many players can fit on a map, I think it was six or eight, which is a fine number to keep tension up on a vast area. My hope on the full game, would be a map that is so huge, we can have up to 12 players on it.

"The Culling" is available at Steam right now as an Early Access and will remain so for one year. The full game is expected to be released in 2017 with new environmental hazards, more character skins to choose from, new weapons, traps, and items, team communication, more maps, character customization, game modes, and so on, everything that boils down into building a cool meta game experience.

About the author: Jon Castillo

Jonathan is hiding from a lynch mob after messing with the wrong basketball team. His favorite song is "Boys do Fall in Love" by Robin Gibb.

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