Fallout comes to Johannesburg, Organosphere Prieview
Now I quite highly suspect a vast majority of our readers are familiar with the Fallout game series. Considering, behind music, gaming is one of our most covered topics. Less so might be as familiar with Johannesburg. Our demographics are rather spread all over the world after all. I, however, know it quite well and happen to live only about 30 or so minutes from the CBD. So you can imagine my excitement at the discovery of an upcoming indie game, set within the very heart of a post-apocalyptic Johannesburg. Or Johazardusburg as the game fictionalises it. Organosphere has been 5 or so years in development and aims to come out fully at the end of this year to early next year. with all updates and DLC to be free for all early access supporters.
I started following the game a few months ago, and the alpha released about a few weeks back. Since I installed it about 1GB worth of updates have already been released, and possibly even more by the time you read this. So as with any Alpha treat everything as likely to change as the game grows.
Storywise you appear to be a scientist, who wakes up in a lab with amnesia. A series of tutorial queues guide you into the game as you find your way out. You then emerge in the middle of a deserted and derelict version of Johannesburg. Mostly overrun with nature and giant bugs. Like any post-apocalyptic setting, you must scavenge and craft what you find to survive. All the While the wildlife and random groups of raiders are out to kill you. The catch here is the fact that everything in Organosphere is a parody of ‘Joburg’ culture.
Local food items litter the supplies you can find and many copywrite infringement safe parodies of local products litter the landscape. The landscape itself a good, although slightly scaled down and not 100% accurate. Many landmarks of the Johannesburg skyline are easyrecognisable. The iconic Ponte Tower seems to be looming over you no matter where you are. Much like the real Ponte.
Alright now that I’m done gushing at my hometown being a major plot point rather than just an odd obscure reference. As well as seeing a growth in South Africa’s gaming content beyond Evan Greenwood’s obsession with all things manly and overly phallic. Let’s look at the actual game.
The visuals are pretty, and not overly glitchy. Though I did find the initial starting point a bit too dark. I get that you want to be scary, but I actually need to walk to where the monsters are. Not spending 15 minutes blocked by a table I cant see. The character model is a bit bland and less refined as the environment. Although the environment looks good, it can feel a bit empty at times. Clearly, the spookiness of the usually overpopulated town being completely void of life is an intentional thing, but maybe a bit of non-hostile wildlife to add some dynamic could help. One other thing that will probably only bug me and go unnoticed by everyone else is many of the wrecked cars lying around the environment have their steering wheels on the wrong side.
Similarly, the audio is a mixed bag. Again I love the local nod of the constant sound of Hadada ibis being as annoying virtually as in real life. But again there are also times where everything feels too empty, and a bit more ambience. The soundtrack is possibly the part I was most let down by. So far it consists of one techno come dubstep style riff, that gets heavier or softer as you go in and out of combat. A game so heavily based around Joburg I’d like to see some futuristic take on Kwaito or even some Sophiatown Jazz. (Maybe with some more steam sales they can bring in a low budget Spoek Mathambo 😛 -Ed).
But to be fair as stated above this is all based on the first alpha. And that of a small indie production team. Early access is always unfinished and rough, and shouldn’t be judged too harshly. The developers are quite active on Facebook, and happily welcome any feedback from players to try to improve the game. I fully expect we will see much polish coming to Organosphere in the coming weeks. I mean look how much games like Subnautica change over their developments. All in all while not perfect I’m fully behind Organosphere and encourage you to at least check it out. You can see them on Facebook, Twitter, Steam, and their website.
P.S. If see some form of mutant Parktown Prawn as Organosphere’s equivalent of Deathclaws I will be at least a little bit sad.