Nuts launch date trailer introduces a big mystery: Why do these squirrels have TNT?

My dad spent a not-inconsiderable number of hours waging war against the local squirrel population over control of his bird feeders. He fought bravely, and resolutely, and ultimately he lost: After an incident involving an angry squirrel who got loose in the back of his truck, he decided the whole thing wasn't worth the hassle. Detente was achieved: The squirrels were permitted to go about their business more or less unmolested, and somehow life went on pretty much as it always had.

All of this came to mind today with the announcement that Nuts, the "adventure in squirrel surveillance" that was revealed at the 2020 Guerrilla Collective showcase, will be out on Steam and on February 4.

As a rookie field researcher working deep in the Melmoth Forest, you'll spend your days placing cameras and your nights studying footage as you track the movements and behaviors of the area's squirrels: Their movement patterns, their hiding places, and whatever else it is that squirrels get up to when they think there's no one watching. The developers promise an "an intimate, immersive story with full voice acting," featuring "bold visuals and foley sound effects that envelop you in a vibrant forest."

It all looks and sound quite tranquil, reminiscent of Firewatch in some ways, and yet I'm pretty sure there's more going here than meets the eye. For one thing, there's an almost throwaway comment in the announcement suggesting that the squirrels are behaving "strangely." The launch date trailer released today goes to some unexpected places, too: Why would a squirrel stash dynamite and matches?

That's a fair question.

I have no idea where this is all headed, but that kind of bait-and-switch was at the heart of Firewatch too, and even if it didn't quite pay off in the end it made for a thrilling summertime adventure. I don't expect Nuts to have have the emotional intensity or heft of Firewatch (TNT-equipped squirrels, really?) but it's certainly captured my curiosity. I want to know what those little rodents are getting up to.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.