The Abandoned Review
The Abandoned is an intense survival horror game that plunges you into its vast wasteland environment full of zombies and carnivorous beasts, forcing you to make tough decisions that affect not only your potential for rescue but your sanity. It’s survival of the fittest, you’re at the bottom of the food chain and every night you get a little crazier. Doesn’t that sound cool? It’s like Day Z meets Dead Island on your phone.
The Abandoned is a survival horror game with classic Western RPG elements sprinkled in for a little flavor. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the game refuses to stomp on your neck while you’re gasping for air, the developers at Yadon Studios were definitely more focused on how much a player would be willing to take of their world as opposed to creating a manageable game.
The story of The Abandoned is simple. You play as a character that has survived a horrific helicopter crash over a forbidden and dangerous area referred to as The Zone. Zombies, wolves, reality distorting anomalies and other more sinister creatures known as “Nightbreeds” roam the wasteland waiting for an opportunity to get a mouthful of generic protagonist and it’s up to you to stop them. The game has little to no more story outside of this initial premise as the story mode consists of 36 main quests and 33 side quests, many of which focus on your character trying to find ways out of The Zone. The game has no teeth in its narrative which is a real shame considering the world they’ve created is interesting but not rich.
The game is beautiful. It uses a cell-shaded graphics design to make the creatures and environments really pop. The environment is not particularly diverse as most of it is grassy hills and mountain regions but it is large and has a distinctly threatening atmosphere at night. The game’s mechanics are even intuitive in and of themselves as combat and motion are seamless. In order to stay alive during your time in The Zone you have to get stronger day by day, accruing XP based on your actions that you can use to upgrade Blandy McNoSoul. One anxiety inducing portion of the game is the day/night cycle. The tension is palpable as not only do you go insane at night but the Nightbreeds come out to play. This makes you accountable for every step you take and works as an effective way to terrify the player. Collect all the sticks you can. Their surprisingly annoying to find.
This leads me to what keeps the game from being fun. It’s an endless grind for materials to survive from day to day that never feels satisfying. Despite the fact that you can build stronger and better things the longer you survive, the game does not have an interesting progression whatsoever. Build one thing so you can build another. Build 4 things to build one thing. It takes 4 campfires to collect enough tar to make a bonfire?! Added onto that is the fact that having to monitor your satiety, health, sanity and stamina feels less like an interesting survival mechanic and more like a full time job that pays you in kicks to the junk. Sometimes you have to use the materials you just collected to complete a mission to survive, making all that backtracking and scrounging a pointless slog. The only positive to that scenario is that the developers were aware of how difficult the game becomes, allowing players to reload from checkpoints with all of their materials. Even with that in mind, all of this together is a cocktail of frustration that I’m sure has cost some poor survivalist a phone or two. Is it flawed? Yes. Is it well made? Without a doubt.