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Preview: P.A.M.E.L.A. is an Extremely Slick, Atmospheric take on the Survival Genre

Screenshot: P.A.M.E.L.A.

P.A.M.E.L.A. released on Steam Early Access early last year, and despite early mixed reviews, has made several strides towards winning its intended audience. Now, I hadn’t played P.A.M.E.L.A. until the recently released June patch, which apparently fixed a lot of problems, so I haven’t had the same experience with P.A.M.E.L.A. as those who have been playing it since the beginning, but I have to say: P.A.M.E.L.A. is an extreme surprise.

Screenshot: P.A.M.E.L.A.

P.A.M.E.L.A. is an extremely stylish and atmospheric open world survival game. Unlike some of its peers, it has opted for a single player, narrative-driven experience, with mysteries to be found and solved, much like recently released Subnautica or The Forest.  Unlike these two games, you won’t be in an open environment, building habitats or shelters to survive—instead, you’re trapped in a utopia that has gone very bad.

Screenshot: P.A.M.E.L.A.

The whole thing starts with you waking up from cryo sleep. You discover shortly that you are on Eden, an island facility that once seemed to be the height of technology and luxury. It is now plagued by failing power systems, and the residents that weren’t killed off by the mysterious illness were transformed into murderous mutants that roam the darkened halls. Your only guidance is a mysterious, sentient AI named P.A.M.E.L.A.

Screenshot: P.A.M.E.L.A.

Solidly in the survival genre, P.A.M.E.L.A. tracks food, thirst, health, etc. and you must constantly scavenge to survive, especially early on. There is the ability to build simple things to help you out—like planters that give you a solid source of food—but P.A.M.E.L.A. is more about exploration and combat than building to survive, making it closer to “System Shock 2: The Survival Game” (or Bioshock, if you prefer) than it is to previously mentioned Subnautica or The Forest. In fact, P.A.M.E.L.A. could have completely eschewed its survival mechanics, because easily the best part of P.A.M.E.L.A. is exploring the fallen utopian city of Eden.

Screenshot: P.A.M.E.L.A.

Eden is gorgeous, despite the roving nasties, piles of bodies, and power outages ravaging the various facilities. It’s also full of obstacles of many varieties: locked doors requiring codes, unpowered areas, barricades, etc. Not only that, you will have to deal with roving security guards that still enforce detaining those who wish to hack open locked containers and are unsuccessful at avoiding detection. Civilization might have fallen, but these robots try to maintain order.

Screenshot: P.A.M.E.L.A.

You will have to fight a good amount in P.A.M.E.L.A., and there are a good amount of weapons to do so. From melee weapons to projectile weapons that fire energy bolts– P.A.M.E.L.A. touts a modest, but effective arsenal. Each weapon is upgradeable to make it more effective. There are also different items to find to make survival easier, like different pieces of armor, shields, etc.  The weapons and items you use are also modular, each linking into your suit.

While P.A.M.E.L.A. is extremely stylish in presentation, it does end up being to its own detriment somewhat.  I really dig how the UI is integrated into the character’s suit, with the inventory, menus, etc. all working as a holographic overlay. Unfortunately, anytime I open my inventory or bring up the menu I am faced with one of the slowdowns P.A.M.E.L.A. suffers from. It is extremely pretty and slick, but it needs a beefy computer to run at acceptable framerates—and even then still suffers from occasional slowdowns.

Screenshot: P.A.M.E.L.A.

Like I said: P.A.M.E.L.A. is an extreme surprise, and I couldn’t be more excited for the finished product. It is currently still in Early Access with no word on when it will be completely finished, but if you have a beefy computer, I wholeheartedly recommend you take a look—especially if you’re into dystopian-framed mysteries.

P.A.M.E.L.A. is available now on Steam Early access—and it’s discounted 40 percent right now for the Steam Summer Sale! Check it out here.

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