Survival games are as common as garbage these days, and to be fair, many of them are just that. Pamela is a Sci-Fi survival, horror game by NVYVE Studios. The game is still in early access but a lot of content is already available. As the title says, the game could turn out to be one of the better survival games, but in it’s current state there are quite a few irritating mechanics that make it hard to recommend.
Pamela is a sci-fi, survival game set in the utopian city of Eden. The player character wakes up after spending decades or possibly centuries in a cryo-chamber. Awakened by the AI, Pamela who watches or at least was supposed to watch over the city. With no normal citizens left, Pamela is forced to rely on the player character’s help to re-establish control over the floating city of Eden and restore order. Pamela is a really well-voiced character. She may be an AI but she shows a lot of emotion, making her sound more human than most people.
Let’s start off with the good bits. Pamela has some neat base-building elements. You can build impenetrable shields, cultivate crops using seeds and fertilizers, and employ wireless generators to power up whatever you build. All this can be be taken apart, stored and then re-deployed as per need. However as of now, you don’t actually get to build a proper base to do all this stuff. And to be honest, setting them up in the middle of nowhere doesn’t serve much of a purpose.
The survival aspect of the game is two-fold. Firstly, there are three main parameters that you need to keep an eye on- health, energy, hunger and thirst. Energy is replenished by cells, while health, hunger and thirst are kept in check by food and drinks. The game is kind of unbalanced here. There are literally dozens of items lying around in the environment that replenish health and thirst, but food for restoring health is too rare, even for a survival game. The energy primarily acts as ammo for weapons, such as the crossbow which is fairly easy to find.
There’s also a crafting section but most of the stuff you can craft is either easily available or not of much use, e.g, the hydroponics for planting seeds, shield pylons or an electric generator.
Secondly, there are no checkpoints in the game. Pamela follows a Dark Souls like re-spawn system. By default, if you die, you re-awaken at the very point where you first started the game. However, the game-world won’t be reset. The items you had in your inventory will be exactly at the place where you got knocked out. To enable more convenient re-spawn points, you need to find or build small nitrogen reserves called ion cells, and insert them into the cryo-pod where you want to be resurrected the next time.
If there’s anything about Pamela that perfectly suits the genre and the setting, it’s the atmosphere. The areas the player get to explore are deserted, with an eerie silence and remnants of a society long gone (or perished). There are malformed corpses here and there that are enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine. The soundtrack also does wonders here. A slow tune with a touch of melancholy, it suits the atmosphere extremely well.
The excellent atmosphere is however marred by a really annoying navigation system. You may have a sweet little scanner that scans your surroundings for collectibles and enemies, but ultimately the map is god-awful which makes it really tedious to actually figure out where you are and where you need to or want to go. The enemy AI is horrible and in my limited playtime, the enemies were severely lacking in variety.
Pamela doesn’t hold your hand and you are supposed to figure things out for yourself. That makes this game suitable only for die-hard fans of the genre. The developers have promised a lot more content and of course a story driven campaign as well, but I fear that even at the time of release, some of the more bothersome issues will still be present. Till they are taken care of, I find it hard to recommend Pamela to the majority of gamers.