This article was originally published in February of 2017 and may not reflect the current state of Wild Eight in Early Access.
I'm stranded in the frozen wilds of Alaska, and there's not much to eat. There are deer, but they run faster than me. There are rabbits, but they also run faster than me. There are wolves, but they both run faster than me and want to eat me themselves. There are mushrooms, and while they don't run faster than me—they don't run faster than anything—I've been poisoned by them before. Luckily, I stumbled over a dead human body and proceeded to cook and eat it. Perhaps cannibalism is a bit distasteful, but the dead human body was my own so it didn't really feel like a crime.
When you die in The Wild Eight, a top-down Early Access survival game you can play solo or multiplayer, your body slumps to the ground and everything you're carrying pops out of you like it's on a spring. That means when you respawn, you can find the location of your corpse and collect your carefully gathered items: an axe, a torch, a generator, a can of food. You can also collect your own dead meat, cook it up in a campfire, and chow down. I've done this a number of times already, and it's beginning to feel like a pretty sound survival strategy. Die, be reborn, then eat myself in order to live.
The Wild Eight begins like most survival games do: with the chopping of trees (deep sigh) and mining of rocks. Initially, this is done with fists, but after you've gathered some wood and stone you can craft a workbench, then by gathering more wood and stone you can craft items like axes, torches, and so on. A campfire (more wood and stone) can keep you warm, and you'll need it in the frozen world you're stranded in. It's also handy for cooking your own dead body.
Finally, someone's ranked the experience of chopping down trees in different survival games. The verdict? It's always bad.
After pitching a tent and crafting a couple tools—including a stick, which required five logs—I headed out to investigate the tail section of the plane crash that got me in this mess. Before I talk about the wolf, I'm just going to rewind a second: crafting a single stick takes five logs. Everyone got that? Okay.
I'd been chasing rabbits and deer around, but had been unable to kill them with my axe, since swinging my axe makes me stop running and allows them to scamper away. One lovely detail of The Wild Eight is that not only can you see your own footprints in the snow, but those of woodland creatures. So, you can actually track animals until you find them, and follow them if they get away. They're all getting away from me at this point, but hopefully I'll be able to craft a bow or traps at some point.
The wolf required no tracking. He came right at me and, even as I hit him with my axe, he made fast work of me. After respawning, I managed to reach a small building, but by that time my heath was draining from poison mushrooms I chowed on and I died again, noting with dismay that my axe wound up on the roof where I wouldn't be able to retrieve it. At least the wolf didn't get me that time.
After respawning and crafting a new axe, I fought the wolf, getting in a few more licks before he chewed me to death. I noticed that the wolf's health hadn't been restored to full, so I came up with a strategy, much like my brilliant Eat My Own Dead Body To Fuel My Living Body strategy. When I died, I'd respawn and rush over to fight the wolf. He'd kill me, but I'd get a few punches in. Little by little, life after life, I finally wore him down until I triumphed, if you can call repeatedly being killed by a wolf a triumph.
Then I ate my dead body again, even though I had some wolf meat. Maybe I'm acquiring a taste for auto-cannibalism.
I think The Wild Eight is looking pretty nice so far, even though I'm faring badly and dying very often. I love the art style, the world looks great, and I like that the eight survivors you can choose from at the beginning have different stats and specialties: some get bonuses in combat, others in crafting and harvesting, some gain XP quicker. I'm curious to see how multiplayer is, either with friends or strangers, so maybe I'll check that out in the near future.
I feel like starvation currently happens a bit too quickly—I've complained about this before about survival games in general—and as I said, some of the crafting requirements are a little silly. Again, The Wild Eight isn't alone when it comes to having to gather a huge amount of wood to make something out of wood. And it's in Early Access, after all, so there's time to tweak the formula.
Protip: be careful when sleeping. Time passes quickly and your health can drain before you know it, and while you're choosing what stats you want to upgrade you could suddenly die and all your stuff could go flying everywhere. Even your own meat.