You wake up in the middle of the night, stranded on an island somewhere with no memory of how you came to be there. You get up and glance around to get your bearings, and find a digital counter strapped to your left wrist displaying the number 99. You look down, and a piece of paper is at your feet, resting on a rock. So, what does it say? “The only way out is through The Other 99″.
And so begins the titular game developed by Burning Arrow. The main drive here is survival. You have to scavenge weapons, food, and drink, even going so far as to drink from swamp water at the cost of your health. While looking for a way to escape, you also have to tangle with a good chunk of the “Other 99”, people dragged into the same situation as you and mostly driven to kill out of the assumption that they can leave once they’re the last one standing (seemingly supported by the wrist displays counting down for each death). Furthermore, there is an air of mystery, as along the way you can even explore, solve the occasional clever puzzle, disable surveillance cameras, and find secret collectibles and clues that hint at something much greater. So it’s almost as if these scenarios happened for quite a while. In the matter of fact, the whole thing winds up feeling almost like an early episode of the hit TV series Lost, and with the power of Unreal Engine 4 backing the environments and character movement combined with the ambient noises all around, the entire experience can feel near-realistic.
Unfortunately, due to still being an Early Access title, there are still plenty of issues plaguing the current game version. For starters, the default control scheme when you’re using a controller is weird when trying to do combat, as lock-on is mapped to right trigger while blocking goes to left trigger, with no way to change the controls for that configuration. On that note, the above complication is half of what’s wrong with combat, the other half being that swinging in any direction with the looking controls is awkward and pointless once you get the hang of the system and can cheese your enemies. Additionally, the A.I only has three settings: run away in fear, attack you, and do nothing (which is currently mapped to only 1 NPC at this time), without any sort of way to interact with characters thus missing an opportunity for depth.
Lastly, the game is still lacking in key features (such as crafting, which has its own tab in the menu interface but does nothing) and important content (such as the plot hook of who’s in command of the whole mess as well as hinting at a whole area currently fenced off), and the tension of the countdown even goes away seemingly for the purpose of leading up to a 69 reference. Lastly, the implementation of stealth is somewhat clunky, as stealth killing is awkward to do thanks to the above-mentioned combat controls as well as potentially game-breaking if you happen to make an attempt in the wrong spot of the world.
“The Other 99” feels like it’s almost the perfect type of mystery/survival experience one can have, but it still needs a bit of work before it can leave Early Access in a proper state, which Burning Arrow seems to thankfully be aware of. If this game gets plenty of support, which it definitely deserves, this has the potential to be a huge indie success.
+ Gorgeous environment
+ Plenty of open-world exploration and secrets
+ Good puzzles
+ Immersive experience
– Confusing combat system
– Stealth only half-works
– Lackluster AI
– You can’t customize the controlls
– The game is still lacking features and content
Sound and Music: 5/5
Replay Value: 3/5
Burning Arrow’s first-person action-survival/adventure game”The Other 99″ feels like it’s almost the perfect type of mystery/survival experience one can have, but it still needs a bit of work before it can leave Early Access proper state. Nevertheless, the game is still very much worthy of a try for those who likes action-survival games.
Title: The Other 99
Developer: Burning Arrow
Release Date: TBA – Early Access
Spent Time: 4+ hours
Average Grade: N/A – Early Access
ESRB Rating: N/A – Early Access
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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