Reviews - Updated on April 14, 2022

PAMELA can hardly be called another survival game, which is now a dime a dozen on Steam. The authors are clearly aiming for the big leagues, somewhere closer to System Shock 2 and BioShock, which they obviously were inspired by. But having got acquainted with the early version, I was once again convinced that sometimes there is a big gap between desire and its realization…

In places here it really becomes not only scary, but somehow uncomfortable and uncomfortable.

Pamela in Paradise

The parallels with System Shock 2 and BioShock are obvious. PAMELA takes place in a large futuristic utopian city of Eden, whose inhabitants tried to build their own paradise and regularly took some substances for this. And everything was ruled by high-tech corporations that conducted genetic experiments, including with AI, flooding the city with robots, droids and various futuristic gadgets.

Naturally, nothing good came of this. Paradise is now dead and abandoned, and its “happy” inhabitants have turned into some kind of half-zombies and roam the streets, groaning terribly and attacking everything that moves. The corporations left the once bustling city and left the titular “Pamela” to oversee it – an artificial intelligence in the person of some virtual girl with quite human emotions.

Hunger is not an aunt, thirst is not an uncle!

We have to survive on the streets of this broken paradise, and for this we will have to establish contact with PAMELA and explore large locations, periodically fending off aggressive townspeople, looking for access keys, power batteries and repair kits to start / fix something important.

In the process, you can also find recordings, notes and audio files with the voice of “Pamela”, shedding light on what is happening. And, of course, whoever searches will find various useful items: new weapons, gadgets, equipment, bio-implants, and improvements like an enhanced energy shield that allows you to more effectively block attacks and deal damage to an attacker. Many of these things are locked in drawers and briefcases – we crack them through mini-games.

The elements of survival are attached to this. You need to regularly take care of food – hunger increases fatigue (stamina is consumed while running and melee), and thirst reduces health regeneration. Accordingly, you have to search the corpses in search of some kind of chocolate bar, as well as collect credits in order to buy food and drink from vending machines.

Well, as in almost any “survival”, you can build something – mostly safe zones, fenced off from aggressive citizens by energy shields.

It’s like a local version of Pip-Boy.

Paradise for “pumping”

All this exploration of abandoned streets and corridors, interrupted by fights with crazed enemies, is tightly connected with role-playing elements, that is, with “pumping”. And it’s not just about equipment, bio-implants and upgrades that increase your capabilities. There is also quite a tangible role-playing system.

After each death (and get ready to die often!) the game reports how much you lasted, how many you killed, what you found, and so on. And depending on the results, it gives out a certain amount of experience. If the “exp” is enough to get a new level, then you will also receive special points that can be spent on learning new “perks” before the character is reborn in one of the previously opened locations (or rather, in the cryochamber located there).

These genetic skills allow you to speed up your metabolism, give you some kind of “iron skin”, increased health, or even allow you to get discounts in vending machines. That is, each death is not in vain – you gradually become stronger, improving your genes.

Finally, there is also a separate branch of skills related, in fact, to our Pamela. At some point, she begins to help the player, and we get the opportunity to develop her (more precisely, our joint) skills. One of them, for example, charges our hands with a special kinetic force and throws enemies back, the other helps to better navigate the terrain, illuminating the path. And this is only a small part of the skills.

Clinical picture

Agree, it sounds more than great. And in some places the game really lives up to expectations – everything here is very stylish and futuristic, from the main menu to the interface, implemented as a special multifunctional device on the player’s sleeve. The locations are large, interesting, well-designed, and the gloomy atmosphere of a dying city is conveyed quite convincingly – the beneficial influence of System Shock 2 and BioShock is felt.

Enemies can be sent back to the cryochamber with just a couple of direct hits.

Hand-to-hand fights are also well implemented – you can dodge, block, counterattack. And the abundance of different equipment, gadgets, skills, “upgrades” makes you reborn and return to Eden over and over again after death to try this time to find something more useful and last longer.

However, you still won’t be enough for a long time. Now PAMELA suffers from typical problems that arise when a big game is developed by a small independent studio. The picture is nice, rich in details, but optimization has not even been brought here yet. Moreover, the technologically early version is close to the state of unplayability – everything takes a long time to load, slows down and crashes. After respawning in the cryochamber, my character often lost his legs for some reason – he simply could not move.

However, it is possible to improve optimization and remove bugs in the full version, but what about the fact that it is simply boring here now? After the excitement of the first passages in an attempt to get something useful and “pump” evaporates, you understand that the game does not offer any other incentives to survive in this “paradise”. There are few notes, audio files with Pamela’s remarks are very vague, and who the main character is, how he ended up here and why, is unclear. It would be forgivable for the usual “survivalist”, but from the project inspired by BioShock, I want a more intelligible, exciting plot.

I did not find and accept the promised interaction between the different factions inhabiting Eden. So far, everyone here is just beating each other up. Humans, whether they look like zombies or not, will immediately attack the player, as well as robots and droids. They sometimes answer, and sometimes they are dumb, chanting one phrase in the spirit of “Put down your weapon!” and allow themselves to be killed with impunity.

Eden includes many different locations, including shopping galleries, offices, shooting ranges and even nightclubs.

***

PAMELA still looks like a typical Early Access game, full of promises, bugs, and no optimization at all. But I don’t want to be ironic about it. It’s not often that developers offer us a mixture of ordinary first-person survival horror with System Shock 2 and BioShock. Therefore, I hope that the authors, in spite of everything, will still succeed. The potential of the project is huge, and even in its current form, there are signs of an interesting game – excellent art direction, well-developed levels, atmosphere, style, rich role-playing system. The main thing now is to bring it all to mind, and not be stuck in Early Access forever…

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