Tedium, terror, and cool-ass rocket boots in new survival game Osiris: New Dawn

Resource gathering and crafting is pretty dull, but there's some excitement to be found in the local wildlife.

Don't you hate it when you're out for a jog on an alien planet, trying out your cool-ass astronaut rocket boots, and then some giant terrifying alien crab runs up behind you and scares you so badly you instantly fill your space-pants? Welcome to Osiris: New Dawn, an Early Access survival game that challenges you to craft an off-world colony while dodging huge alien bugs.

I was curious to try it after hearing the developer hated survival games—a feeling I've begun to mirror over the past couple years of playing tons of them—but my first impressions are that Osiris feels very much like a lot of survival games that are already out there. You begin with a couple crates of supplies: a little food, some water, a rifle and pistol, and a tiny inflatable habitat, then begin scouring the surface of the alien planet looking for crafting resources. Iron, aluminum, plutonium, lead, and so on. You know the drill: find the right rock, hit it with a hammer, pick up the pieces, make something out of them.

Before you can be mean to boulders, however, you have to get to them, and that means a lot of running. I recently whined about how I hate sprint meters in open world games: I just don't see why we're given these massive worlds to explore yet are then saddled with a system that makes exploring as slow and annoying as possible.

Osiris, unfortunately, doubles-down on this. Your sprint meter is actually an oxygen meter that slowly depletes as you run. It's a decently-sized meter, letting you sprint for a long while before it drains, but replenishing it after a sprint takes ages, and if you ever let it run down to zero it can't be refilled unless you're in your habitat—which is tricky since when you're out of oxygen you can barely even walk. Luckily, this is offset by your sweet rocket boots, which gives you a fun way to scoot around the surface in short bursts, and your oxygen can refill even while you're floating.

There's another hitch. For the first several hours of Osiris, I was completely unable to find plutonium, which is an ingredient required for the very first item you craft, and the item you need to craft everything else: a forge. Spending two hours looking for one specific rock isn't much fun, especially since that rock is the key to opening up every other crafting opportunity in the game. You can, when starting a singleplayer game, crank the resources slider up to max, which gives you a better chance of finding the things you're looking for, but there's still a heck of a lot of running and searching what is a pretty yet very barren world.

You can also repair the things you build, as I had to do after my habitat became damaged. Repairing consists of pointing a multitool at the wall and activating it over and over while watching the health meter of the item slowly creep back up. You're not exactly Matt Damon from The Martian, as you can see above.

One thing Osiris does a great job with are the aliens, because they are completely terrifying. I posted last week about encountering an enormous sandworm, and how I was completely stupefied by the sight of it. I couldn't shoot, move, or react in any meaningful way at all. I just stood there watching as it devoured me.

Here's the gif again, which shows my complete lack of initiative to avoid passing through an alien worm's digestive system. Gotta tip your cap to a game that can present something so astounding it completely switches your brain off.

The are also alien crabs scuttling around, some quite large ones, and while they're fairly easy to avoid if you don't want a fight they're also incredibly dogged in their efforts to kill you if you get too close. Running into them at nighttime is completely horrifying, and they never seem to give up chasing you. Wound them, however, and they often back off and circle around—it's nice when enemies show a little sense and self-preservation.

Besides rocks and monsters, there are also large portions of the map that are completely barren of anything. No aliens, no resources, no nothing. I know this because I ran out into a sea of sand and spent ages hunting around—so long, in fact, I had absolutely no desire to run all the way back to my home base. Thankfully, Osiris allows you to kill yourself and respawn back in your dome. Here's me ending my life rather than spend another 10 minutes backtracking.

I've tried playing multiplayer a few times as well, hoping to find more of an engaging colonization experience with other players, but there aren't a lot of servers yet, and the times I joined I was only getting between 5-10 fps. I did see a few other players and their habitats, but in its current state I just wasn't finding multiplayer workable.

Right now my feelings about Osiris are mixed: I love the monsters, the game looks beautiful as heck, the music and sound are both excellent, and jetting around on my heels like Iron Man is fun. I'm finding the resource gathering and crafting pretty dull at the moment, however, and while they can be broken up by some scary alien encounters, the endless search for rocks to pound is a bit tedious.


The first PC game Chris owned was Choplifter in 1982, and since then our staff writer has played at least three other games. He has a love/hate relationship with Early Access survival games and an odd fascination with the lives of NPCs.
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