You take a moment to listen to your surroundings. Off in the distance, you hear the soft patter of your prey's footsteps. As you approach you catch a whiff of your quarry just ahead. You catch sight of your dinner, slowly you get closer and closer. Just as your prey spots you, you take off running. Just as the unfortunate creature turns to make its escape, you pounce. A struggle ensues, but the inevitable happens. You bring down the creature and enjoy a warm fresh meal. Moments like this abound in Feral, a game created as a graduation project by a team of 7 students at Supinfo International University in Paris, France.
Feral is a primeval first-person survival game. You take on the role of a large feline creature whose main goals are; Hunt, eat, drink, survive. The game is best played with an Xbox controller as the control scheme is set up to be played that way. By holding the left bumper, you enter a “sonar” mode. While in this mode, other creatures will give off pulses you can track on screen. Use this to locate nearby prey. As you get closer you'll notice footprints and droppings. By clicking the right bumper you'll take a whiff and be pointed in the direction that creature went. You crouch with the B button, when approaching your prey, you must crouch and use trees and foliage as cover to slowly get withing range of your prey. When there is no more cover you use the right trigger to start running and the X button or the left trigger to pounce. The coolest moments of Feral come when you time your pounce just right initiating a slow motion pounce onto unsuspecting prey. Once latched onto your dinner, you must mash the X button to bring them down and finish the kill. The HUD of the game features a hunger bar, thirst bar, and a health bar. There's also an indicator for when to feed your babies, but we'll touch on that later.
The world you inhabit is ripe with character. The flora and fauna have a very extraterrestrial feel. Leaves are a deep red, flowers are bright blue. Tree trunks twist and turn at all angles. Some plants even fold in on themselves as you pass by. The other creatures that inhabit the world have an almost dayglo appearance. The best word I can think of that describes the overall texture is “juicy”. Through my time with the demo they have available, I came across a handful of potential prey as well as a few fellow predators. Your main source of food comes from a dark blue antelope type creature with long red horns and a fluffy white tail. Upon closer inspection, the creature has large scales on it's back as opposed to short fur. There are 3 other creatures I encountered. A bulbous red frog that travels in small groups and spits at you whenever you get close, blinding you. The other predator you have to look out for is a large lizard with a big sail on it's back. I encountered 2 types of this monster, a dark blue one, and a bright red one. You really have to look out for these creatures as they will actively attack you. You've got to look out for these lizards as they will show up on your sonar when you stop and listen. So if you're desperate for food, be careful not to run headlong into one of these dangerous monsters. The final creature is by far my favorite. It's a prairie dog type creature that is found poking out of the ground. Like most of the others, it is dark blue, but with nasty looking fangs. When spotted by the creatures, they will let out a shriek that will chill you to your core before retreating back underground. They are ever vigilant so taking down these nightmare dogs is tricky. The designers really outdid themselves in Feral. The world is truly a sight to behold, believable, yet surreal. The art and design are clearly the standouts of the game.
The game itself is only available as a demo, an incomplete version with its share of bugs. The biggest bug causing the game to crash every once in a while. There are other features in the game that aren't fully fleshed out. Scattered around the world are caves you can enter. In these caves is a menu for an upgrade system, with lots of upgrades for anything from increased attack speed to increased stamina for running longer distances. But the game resets whenever you leave the cave. In the cave is also where your babies are waiting to be fed. So when the game is complete you can't just worry about your hunger, but the hunger of your cubs as well. Row, the name of the team creating Feral are working on completing and improving the game. You can download the demo here. You can also help improve the game by leaving comments on their site. Feral and the team, in general, have real potential. I hope to be in contact with them soon and get the scoop on their plans moving forward. Keep an eye for a complete version of Feral hopefully coming soon.
By Sam Kemp