Cannibalism, crafting, and extreme bodily functions in survival game Scum

Scum is an Early Access open world survival game, so you probably know the general drill: spawn on an island with essentially nothing, run around gathering resources to craft stuff, loot houses for gear, watch out for zombies and other players, and keep yourself fed, hydrated, and healthy.

The simulation running beneath it is an extensive one, however. As Tyler noted in his preview back in April, Scum has a heck of a lot of meters that allow you to track the status of your character to an extreme degree, everything from your heartbeat to your vitamin and mineral intake, what's in your stomach and what's passing through your digestive track, and even how many teeth you have.

With all that simulation comes a lot of gross stuff: if a game is tracking the amount and type of food passing through your intestines, you can probably guess it doesn't simply disappear when it leaves your body. It's not all disgusting: there's some pretty cool stuff I've also come across playing it this week. I'll try to alternate between the gross stuff and the cool stuff I've seen below.

Yessir, you can really chop a body up, yep

Let's start with gross! Above is a video of me killing a zombie with an axe, then doing other things to it with an axe. A lot of other things. You can, uh... you can really chop up a human body in Scum, for sure, so if you've been looking for that in a game then maybe this is the game for you. Torso and limbs can be turned into steaks, fat, and bones, and there's also hands and feet and guts and a head. I won't tell you what to do with all that meat when you're done carving it up, but you can use your imagination.

(Note: the part where the second zombie tries to avenge his chopped-up pal: that's not the game freezing, that's my recording program freezing.)

Maybe all this dismembering is coming too quickly for me on the heels of the gruesome Graveyard Keeper, but I think I might be ready for a nice, wholesome game where you don't dissect and eat people.

Some crafting recipes allow for substitutes

Sometimes in crafting games, recipes can kind of suck when you have an item that feels like it would logically satisfy a recipe but won't, simply because the recipe cannot be strayed from. In Scum, I was pleased to discover that sometimes you can substitute certain components and still craft the item you want.

If a component is swappable, it'll have little arrows below it in the crafting menu that let you page through alternative items. Does the recipe call for rope, but you don't have it? Wire or cable will work, and so will sewing thread. The amount you need may be different depending on the component you use, but at least there's an alternative, just like when you bake a cake in real life and substitute apple sauce for sugar and get a not-very-good cake.

You can hurl

The first time I barfed in Scum was from standing in the woods eating mushroom after mushroom until I spewed it all back up. That felt fair. The second time, which you can see above, was after I'd eaten two human steaks and washed it down with a large bottle of lime soda. It wasn't the uncooked human flesh that caused me to barf, it was from overfilling my stomach with the drink. Gotta keep an eye on those meters.

(Note: it was unintentional, but that gif actually loops really well.)

Dressing in layers is pretty damn cool

This one isn't a gif so don't expect it to move

The early hours of a fresh spawn in a survival game are a challenge for a lot of reasons, but especially because even if you're lucky enough to find a lot of loot, chances are you can't carry it all with you. So it's nice that if you come across a sweater with a pocket, and you're already wearing a shirt with a pocket, you can just put that sweater on over that shirt and have two pockets. Find a jacket? Throw that baby on over them both. You are now a pocket monster.

This can have adverse effects: apparently, if you get wet, all that clothing will weigh more and slow you down.

You poop

Maybe pooping isn't gross. We all do it. It's normal and natural. And here it's a bit more realistic looking than, say, in Ark, where a dungball the size of a grapefruit just appears near your butt and falls to the floor—though in both games you poop right through your pants. I'm not sure we really needed jiggle physics on the turd, but we've got 'em. Thanks.

Unlike in Ark, however, I couldn't pick up my poop afterward. I'll leave it to you to decide if that's a good or bad thing.

In singleplayer mode, there's a free camera

I like when games have photo modes, or any sort of feature where you can move the camera around apart from your character and take pictures. I found this out accidentally, but if you press F10, you'll be able to fly the camera away from your character to take some shots. I noticed that when activating it while in first-person mode my character doesn't have a head, but in third-person his head is there. (It doesn't appear to work in multiplayer, probably because people would use it to look around corners and such.)

You may have sudden, explosive diarrhea

Here's a tip. If you consume human flesh, unrefrigerated milk, cream, half a bag of sugar, some olives, an entire bottle of wine, and some antibiotics you found, take a peek at your status meters. They may have some important, urgent information for you.

I was attempting to take a cooking pot outside to see if I could fill it with water, and my guy just hunched over and began spraying poo everywhere. Yeah, it's gross. Just be thankful gifs don't make noise.

You might occasionally spot a robot visiting you

I'm not entirely sure if this is a human spectator watching or just a little mood-setter to remind you you're really participating in a brutal game show, but a robot occasionally pops in to monitor you. Considering that in the hours I've spent playing multiplayer Scum I've never seen another player (the map is 144 square kilometers and it hadn't entered Early Access yet so populations were low), it's nice to remember you're not alone. I'm not sure if you can shoot it, or what happens if you do: I've only seen it twice, and I was unarmed both times.

Zombies got some moves

Hey, I ran out of gross stuff (your character also urinates, but that's not terribly gross and I forgot to record it anyway) so let's finish with more cool stuff.

I'm not sure what you look for in a zombie experience, but I kinda prefer the sort where I can handle a single zed without too much trouble while a swarm is almost certain death. I've had kind of a mixed experience so far: sometimes zombies go down without much of a fight, other times they beat me within an inch of my life. So I tend to try to avoid them unless I'm, you know. Hungry.

It's nice that you can eventually outrun them if you've got enough stamina, though this zombie in particular was incredibly spry, leaping over rocks and bushes like he was having a great old time chasing me. I was wearing the clothes I'd taken off another zombie, so maybe he thought I was his pal.

There are things much deadlier than zombies

I'd forgotten this was in the trailer, so it was a complete surprise. On a rainy evening I spotted a building behind some tall fencing, and after squeezing through a gap I found myself face-to-grill with something much more dangerous than a zombie. I was so stunned I just stood there staring, and a moment later I was dead. It definitely didn't help that my framerate took a massive dump at the key moment, but I'm pretty sure I'd have been dead either way.

Now, at least, I have a goal in Scum: destroy one of those mechs, or maybe drive it myself. Hopefully it's got a toilet in there. Scum enters Early Access on Steam today. So far, I'm having a cool but gross time with it.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.