An Exclusive Survival-Horror Look: PixelMate's Beyond Despair
Russian Indie Developer PixelMate not only gave me the opportunity to interview them, but to also join the closed alpha testing of their upcoming title, Beyond Despair, a multiplayer FPS survival-horror game.
Scheduled for release on Steam Early Access in January 2017, Beyond Despair is already shaping up to be something quite special. I managed to play the game for about an hour and here is my experience.
Disclaimer: Beyond Despair is currently in an alpha stage of development. This article is NOT based on a fully developed and complete product.
Freedom to Explore
I enter the world of Beyond Despair with PixelMate team member Nick Romanov on voice chat through their Discord channel. Nick explains the game's controls to me, along with how the world works and its dangers. After brief introductions, I decided to head out to explore and see what I could find.
Note: Nick remained on chat, allowing me to ask any questions I had about the game and to fill me in on any details I needed.
In front of me was a railway track and some train cars. I decide to head to my right and see what the darkness held for me.
Within seconds I found myself in the middle of one of the world's many anomalies, which dealt a small amount of damage to me. The anomaly was the least of my problems, however, because in front of me, rapidly getting closer, was a pack of dog-like creatures. Growling and snarling, they inched closer as they saw their next meal just meters in front of them.
I swung my only weapon of defense (a stick) at the creatures, but I knew fighting would only lead to a very quick death. So, I began to run in the opposite direction. Ahead of me, various anomalies, some just like the one I walked into, others capable of electrocuting anything that stepped into them, opened up in front of me.
I managed to escape the dogs, partially in thanks to the anomalies slowing them down, but as I stopped to regain my breath and composure, I saw a humanoid being walking in the distance. At first, I thought it was another player, but then I remembered Nick told me we were the only ones on that server.
As I took a closer look, the man looked at me, his eyes glowing orange and anything but friendly. I decide to not take any more risks and ran before I provoked the man into possibly attacking me. I had not even thought about the direction I was heading in and it wasn't long before I found myself lost on the coast of the island.
Eventually, I found an area that looked like it could be climbed, and as I began to make my way up the mountain, looking for areas I could jump up to, I made a single misstep and fell to my death.
After a few seconds, I found myself back where I originally entered the world. I'd had my freedom, it was time to follow Nick's directions.
A Guided Tour Through a Harrowing World
Nick told me to follow the railway track to the left and I headed in that direction, avoiding any anomalies along the way. It wasn't long before I could see an old abandoned railway station in the distance. The inside of the station was full of old trains and its interior pitch black, except for a few lights scatter throughout.
I had a feeling I probably wasn't alone and proceeded with caution. I reached the end of the station and an opening to my right gave me the impression it was the exit. As I approach the exit, a strange, almost human voice could be heard.
A man with orange eyes, just like the one I had bumped into earlier, charged toward me from around the corner. I swung my stick at him, hitting him until he dropped, but not without taking a few whacks myself. I steeled myself for more of them and sure enough, there was another just at the exit.
I dispatched him quickly and began to make my way out of the station. Nick explained that they are "Madmen" humans who have had their minds altered by the catastrophe that struck the island. They are aggressive, but only if you get too close to them.
I wasn't sorry to leave the train station behind as I crossed a bridge to a ruined village. Nothing but a few walls remained of the village that once proudly stood there. I took a moment to take in the sights before moving on. Eventually, I came to a fork in the road.
I remembered Nick telling me to turn right after the village and continued through a thick forest. As I journeyed through I could see something strange in the distance. It was too far away for me to make out what it was but I wanted to know and began heading directly in its direction.
I reached the end of the woodland and stood at the edge of a cliff looking onto an absolutely amazing sight. There before me stood this huge area, full of unnaturally giant mushrooms. I hadn't seen anything quite like it and the only comparison would be my days playing Morrowind.
I was no longer somewhere that could be considered earthly; I was now in a world that was completely alien to me. I was excited but unnerved at the same time. I began making my way through the giant mushroom field, getting closer to the object I could see back as far as the forest.
Eventually, it came into view and there, high up in the air, was a massive airship. I stood there for a few moments in absolute awe, looking upon this massive field of huge mushrooms with the airship floating above. It was a truly amazing sight.
It was there that I decided to call it a day. I thanked Nick for the opportunity and he returned gratitude for playing the game. We said our goodbyes and I left the world of Beyond Despair to ponder and process everything I had experienced overnight.
My Thoughts on Beyond Despair
Beyond Despair may only be in a very early stage of development, but already it is shaping up to be something very special and magical. The atmosphere is simply brilliant, it's creepy and really does send shivers down your spine. The enemies are all well designed and strike fear into you when you see them.
The world is big and has plenty of wonderful sights for the player to experience. Those that I have mentioned above, are but only a few of the many mind-blowing sights that the game will have to show. There really is a huge amount of imagination gone into its design.
The developers plan on implementing a deeply detailed plot for players to follow, should they want to. That alone is something never before done in a multiplayer FPS game, at least to the point where the player can interact with it.
As I mentioned in my Top 5 Unreal Engine 4 Indie FPS Games to Keep on Your Radar, Beyond Despair has quite a S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl vibe to it. Despite that being the case, it is a different game to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series and one that I have am very excited about.
As someone who generally doesn't have any interest in multiplayer games, I have to admit I am already enamoured with Beyond Despair. It may just be the game that changes how I feel about multiplayer titles.
Image Source: All images were provided by Nick Romanov of PixelMate.