Game: The Tribe
Format: PC exclusive
Release Date: 28th July, 2016 (early access)
Publisher: Stas Shostak
Review by Neil
In the interests of transparency, I was offered a key to review this game, so it’s not one I purchased in any way. It’s also one I didn’t know about until I’d been offered the key, but I figured it looked interesting and I do enjoy reviewing little indie games. Now, my first attempt to review it didn’t go very well. I had no options to change resolution and the game decided to put it on my “secondary” monitor (which Windows has listed as the primary for some reason, because Windows is stupid). But I do have two PC’s, so I decided to try it out on my main PC, and this time I got the options menu to set graphics, which monitor the game is on and resolution. Apparently this option was added in a recent patch, and I tried to play the game prior to that… so I wasn’t going insane!
Now, with that out of the way, you should know that this is a Hardcore Runner style game. What does that mean? Well, Hardcore means it’s pretty damn easy to die and doing so means you have to restart the entire game. A runner means whatever you control (usually 1 character) is just constantly moving and you have to dodge whatever obstacles the game decides to throw at you. The Tribe is procedurally generated, so you won’t get the same experience every time you play. This means that all you can really “learn” to do is how to recognise the various hazards the game throws at you and thus how to deal with them.
Admittedly, dealing with them usually means learning the most effective way to dodge, but at least there is something that you can learn. Controls are simple, you have 5 hotkeys at the top but these only start to activate as your shaman levels up. Your shaman levels by covering distance without your tribesman dying, and without your actual shaman dying. As long as you have at least 1 tribesman left (and you start with 50), your shaman will be replaced if they do happen to die.
Left click on the mouse makes your tribe split up 1 position (I think you can get up to 5 groups/positions max, or at least I haven’t needed more than that) and right click makes them merge together again. You use this method of “movement” to avoid hazards and try to hit bushes to gather food. Once you get the spear power up, which is your second power up and hot-key no 2, you can also hunt deer for food. Hot key 3, gives you torches for running at night (you get this choice when you finish a level), while hot-key 4 sacrifices some of your tribesmen for food. Canniablizim is a thing, folks! Hot-key 5 is your final ability and this sacrifices some food and some of your shaman’s levels to gain more tribe members.
Now, I’m going to be honest, this is a game that requires a lot of skill and it’s very clear that I don’t have much skill in the past hour that I’ve played it. The developers aren’t engligh, and thus there are a few grammatical errors. However, if you like rogue-like and/or hardcore games, this thing is pretty damn fun! I’m planning to put a few more hours into it and see if I can finish it. The tutorial will teach you the basics, but otherwise you have to rely on a mix of trial-and-error plus tooltips on the loading screen to learn about the various hazards you need to avoid. This game also has seriously low system requirements, so pretty much anyone can run it.
Right now, it’s still in early access and seems to be getting regular updates. It costs a measley £3.99 on steam, and I would’ve totally given it a try for that price had I seen it. So, do I recommend it? Well, it depends. If you like balls-to-the-wall hard games that require luck and skill, then I totally recommend it after an hour of play. If you don’t like that kind of game, then I advise staying away from it.
All in all, I think this game is going to be one of the little indie games that gathers a cult following once it’s finally released. As stated, this is an early access review, and I will update it if necessary once the game is fully released.