The Culling is currently in early access and it has a ton of people playing it – the fact that over 12,000 people have left a Steam review is more than enough proof of that. Time for a preview.
What we know
The Culling is a bit like the classic Japanese movie Battle Royale or (for the more Hollywood-inclined) The Hunger Games, but without the teen angle attached. Each battle takes place inside an arena, which gets smaller (on account of poison gas closing in) when time starts to run out near the end of the match.
It’s not a straight up action game though, because survival isn’t just achieved through battle. You’ll also have to scavenge and craft items and weapons – and you have the option to set traps as well. Aside from a practice mode, it’s an online-only game that doesn’t have a story campaign, focusing instead on 16-player matches that end when only one (team) is left standing. Matches can take up to 20 minutes, but can also be over very quickly is players are careless or mismatched in their ability.
Combat is a mix of melee and long distance – with most matches heavily leaning towards the former with about two dozen weapons available for your head-bashing needs. If you’re lucky enough to be able to hide for a bit, then you can also set traps such as mines or tripwires – luring an enemy into these is extremely rewarding.
At the start of each match you can choose 3 perks for your character, which helps differentiate players in the game. Other ways of gaining an edge are due to The Culling’s nature of a game show – items are dropped into the arena, and random events can take place as well. Exploring can uncover extra weapons or items, but might also lead to an ambush or trap.
What we saw
We played the current build versions of The Culling in June and July of 2016, and tried our hand at both solo play as well as playing with teams of two. Our time was divided equally between the two.
What we thought
The Culling takes a novel approach to the traditional deathmatch formula, mixing it with something that’s been popularized by movies like Battle Royale and The Hunger Games. It’s in early access so a lot might still change, but your enjoyment really hinges on what you’re hoping to get out of the game. If it’s a survival game with an emphasis on crafting that you’re after, then you might be frustrated by other players not cooperating. If it’s a first person brawler you want, then the combat feels a bit unrefined. The Culling’s main strength is in the sum of its parts, because together all these components make for something quite unique and worth keeping an eye on.