December PSNow – Stranded Deep (A Review)

A few months ago we decided that to stop us spending a fortune on new games, and to play things that we wouldn’t necessarily have bought, we’d get PSNow.

As we play through the games when they’re added, I’m going to give them a bit of a review and let you know what we thought of them.

The December PSNow additions are; Horizon: Zero Dawn (Complete Edition), Stranded Deep, Wreckfest, The Surge 2, Darksiders III and Broforce.

First, we decided to play Stranded Deep. We would have played Horizon: Zero Dawn, but that’s a bit of a sore subject. Before I get into Stranded Deep, I’ll explain the Horizon issue.

I bought Horizon: Zero Dawn when it came out. We’ve been playing it again recently to platinum it – after we’d done that we decide to get the DLC. I checked it wasn’t on sale (it wasn’t) and we went ahead and bought it. It’s a good DLC, that’s not the issue. The issue is that 2 days after we bought the Frozen Wilds DLC, the new PSNow games were announced and it included *drum roll* the complete edition of Horizon: Zero Dawn with the Frozen Wilds DLC *cue overdramatic scream into the air* I’m past it now, I’m over it. No, really, I am *sob*. So let’s get back to Stranded Deep.

Stranded Deep is a suntan simulator, I mean it’s a first-person survival sim. It starts with your character sat in a (private) jet which then goes down in the middle of the ocean, after a dramatic scene where a large hole is ripped in the side of the plane – maybe by gremlins, we don’t know – and crashes conveniently between a group of islands.

You start with a life raft and a few rations (which are hidden in the raft. – we didn’t find these for quite some time.) So when you drift up to your new island home, you have to find ways to survive. You can craft different items – which this, what looks like CEO of a company, miraculously knows how to make – in order to survive. Oh yeah, you also have a watch that tells you how healthy you are and what skills you have – are you listening Apple?

You kill crabs for your first island meal, and despite having all this in-depth survival knowledge, when getting meat from a crab you still say “Ew, gross!”. You soon discover you can drink water from coconuts to stave off thirst, but you can also eat coconuts, but if you eat or drink too many, bad things happen. Once you’ve got your makeshift shelter built – just a few sticks and leaves required for this – complete with fire pit, you go about your business and strip the island that you started on of all it’s natural resources all this while knowing that nothing will grow back – at least not in our lifetime. Once you’ve done this you then have to venture out into the ocean to discover new items.

Now, I must say that I tapped out before we got to this bit. I’m all for games that make you slog, but this is beyond me. So from this point, picture me, whiskey in one hand and a cigar in the other, giving helpful suggestions (Actually I was generally slouched in my pyjamas with an Irn-Bru and Kit Kat in hand, shouting the world “rock!” whenever one appeared on screen, but that’s by-the-by) watching a professional (Alex) master the art of survival.

As you cross the ocean, you soon realise that there are things beneath the waves that want to kill you – at this point we switched the animal AI to passive so they wouldn’t kill us – just like in real life. On the other islands, you can find all sorts of bits and pieces from scrap wood and corrugated metal, to engine parts? and a whole host of creatures to murder for your survival – unless they kill you first, that is – especially the damn spiky purple starfish of death. Just be careful when leaving your island because it’s very easy to get lost and end up rowing in circles for a few days before eventually giving up and reloading the save you took 3 days ago because you forgot to save it before leaving the island like a numpty.

As you continue, you’ll find shipwrecks which you can scavenge for more stuff for your collection. We also found a knackered plane that you can fix – isn’t that really helpful and totally non-coincidental?

Alex has restarted I don’t know how many times after dying from drowning, dehydration, a broken leg, poison, but luckily not dysentery. But she’s on a roll and making some progress now; she’s even managed to build a Sims-like hovel in the centre of one of the islands.

We’ll continue to play – probably until Alex gets the platinum – so it will have a lot of hours put into it. So if nothing else it’s suitable for playing to pass the time.

As I said, I’m not overly enamoured with it because I don’t have the attention span for these kinds of games that I used to, but Alex is enjoying it as she loves a good slog, although she’s not really playing it to win and get off the island rather more like a Sims-like game.

One thing I will say is that I can’t help but admire the detail that’s gone into some of the effects and creatures. I mean the turtle alone deserves an honourable mention.

Personally, I’d give it a 3 out of 5, it has some good points, it’s stunning to look at, and the idea is executed really well, it’s just not for me. I’ve never Googled things for a game as often as I have for this. It doesn’t give you much prompting on what to do after the very basic tutorial when first reaching the island. The music is good, although it does go from sounding like The Last of Us to Vampyr to A Series of Unfortunate Events (the Jim Carrey version.) But, if you like a good slog, then this is probably a game for you, but there are also probably better games out there that do the same thing.

I’m not sure what the next game is that I’ll play. Though, hopefully, I’ll actually be able to play this one.

As an addition to all this, I’m also going to be trying to get back into streaming on Twitch. My profile is linked on the home page of this blog, so feel free to follow. I’m aiming to stream on a Saturday morning (GMT) so hopefully you can join me.

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