Nether (PC) Review

By Kyle Henderson 29.06.2014

Review for Nether on PC

Following in the footsteps of DayZ and its many copycats comes Nether, a game that looks very similar on the surface and is, well... very similar at its core, too. Its current early access state does it no favours but Cubed3 endures to bring readers this review.

Open-world survival games suffer from one of the most disappointing problems in game design - very exciting premises that either don't translate well to an actual game or are just too difficult to properly realise. Nether suffers from both aspects and, to make matters worse, it has got to be among the most unfinished early access games available on Steam.

It's a real shame because that premise is so irresistible: surviving in a world that really doesn't want anyone to survive is extremely satisfying. Other people should be helping, too, in theory, adding a sense of community and brother (or sister)-hood against a cruel environment. This experience is in there and it does occasionally show its face but, unfortunately, not anywhere near often enough.

Screenshot for Nether on PC

The biggest problem, though, is those other players. The amount of grieving that goes on in Nether is just ridiculous. Other players will, 90% of the time, take any opportunity to kill every other person they see, rather than band together and help. This is probably a product of the game's design, with rewards for killing others (looting their bodies) being far higher than actually working together. This is something that will hopefully change for the better as more group activities are added in, and there needs to be reasons to unite against evil on the most basic level, too.

That evil is one of Nether's better qualities; the Nether themselves. A variety of mutated...things roam the ruined streets and wasteland of a Chicago analogue. Even the smallest can do some serious damage, especially early on in the life of the main character. Having to restart from scratch upon every death means that encountering any Nether is a tense experience, but killing them is the main way to gain experience and level, and often a safe zone defence event will pop up, requiring players to rid an area of mutants before it can be safe again.

Other missions include playing courier to mannequin-esque NPCs on opposite ends of the map and group missions (that can be done solo if feeling particularly reckless) to clear Nether out of a given area. There's certainly not enough content to keep even the most patient person interested past the first few hours but this should be another thing that will be improved over time.

Screenshot for Nether on PC

Combat is functional but uninspiring. Each character starts off with nothing but a hunting knife, sufficient to win a fight against a lesser Nether but not without losing a large chunk of health. Other weapons can be scavenged across the city or crafted in one of the safe zones, using scrap from scavenging. Gunplay, unfortunately, suffers from some fairly-off hit detection but getting used to it isn't too tricky. There is a small selection of firearms to choose from, all of them basic and nothing of any real inspiration: handguns, assault rifles and snipers - the standard arsenal.

The one thing that Phosphor Games have absolutely nailed on first attempt is the city itself. It's clear that most of the development time spent on this game so far must have been devoted to designing the city. It looks amazing, simply put. A huge draw distance enables gamers to stand on one of the many long avenues of the city's grid-based road system and see destruction for miles: realistically run-down buildings, cars driven into walls and lamp posts, hints everywhere of humanity's last gasp against whatever catastrophe befell them. Rarely are copy-pasted rooms and buildings noticeable and each one seems to suggest some ambient story of, often failed, survival.

Screenshot for Nether on PC

Unfortunately, the game's technical quality isn't in line with the great work done realising the city. Bugs and glitches abound, rarely does 10 minutes in Nether pass without some game or immersion breaking problem cropping up. The player model is able to clip through pretty much every non-important asset on the map: sofas, bookshelves, and sometimes even cars are literally no obstacle as the player strolls straight through them. Starting the game up is also often a problem as the game is very fond of hanging for minutes on the server selection screen and often completely crashes. Upon actually getting into a server and the game loading up, there's no guarantee of it being functional, and many times the game will load into a debug state, allowing nothing but the ability to fly around the map. Again, these are all problems that should be ironed out as development continues as it is expected that early access games are going to be buggy and it's tough to get too mad at Phosphor, unless it doesn't put in the effort to fix it.

Survival should feel like a constant struggle in games like this, and Phosphor Games have created a game in which it certainly is, although usually not for the right reasons. There's a good seed lying amongst all the broken English NPC dialogue and myriad bugs, so it has to be hoped that Phosphor can do the work to let it flourish.

Screenshot for Nether on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

It's not easy to score a game like Nether. Its half-finished state inevitably means that most of what it has to offer is not up to scratch…yet. A tentative four it is then, in the hope that Phosphor will put in the work and allow its game to reach its full potential. Until that point only the most dedicated survivalists should bother.

Developer

Phosphor

Publisher

Nether Productions

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Sandy Wilson

There are 1 members online at the moment.