P.A.M.E.L.A. is a first-person survival game by developer NVYVE Studios. In the game, you take the role of a resident of the floating city of Eden, but when you awaken, nothing is right. Those who you had once known have changed. The robots have changed and nothing seems quite right. This is where our adventure begins.
I’m not sure why, but somehow, I’ve been called upon, awakened if you will. The room, it’s cold, quiet, a little muggy due to the poor circulation of air. The generators are silent, the lights are dim, and unlike my last time here – no one’s talking. I’m only greeted by the shells of the bodies of the men and women I had once known.
Their faces locked in place as their eyes – devoid of life – continue staring off into the darkness ahead. After a few seconds, a voice begins to talk to me, informing me we have lost communication with the floating cities A.I. known as P.A.M.E.L.A. and due to failing power grids across the floating island, it is our job to investigate, it is our job to survive and find out what has happened and why everything went horribly wrong.
After a few hours of stumbling around in the dark, everything begins to come naturally. I’ve established a safe room, power, shields, a small area for my food, and even a water condenser to supply me with fluids on an as-needed basis. Personally, it’s home, even with the sound of my mutated colleagues pacing through the Garrison as the sun begins to set, providing me with almost no light. However, that’s a problem. I’m not sure how long I have power for as I’ve yet to set my solar charging station up so I can swap between power cells as I need.
Motherboard: MSI Z270 Gaming M7
Video Card: MSI Nividia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Game Ready Plus
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB RAM
CPU: I7-7700K 3.6GHz
Cooling Unit: Cooler Master V8 GTS Radiator
Within an hour or so more, here I am, standing in the middle of this once beautiful building, staring several stares down at what was once a beautiful neon-lit shopping center. But now, it’s a husk of its former self. Now, mutants walk about freely, robot shopkeeps roam around as security bots patrol the perimeter, mistaking me, me, a human, as a potential threat.
After a few hours, the power’s gone, I can see the soft glow of the mutants AARMs as they wander about freely, some of the more progressively infected roaring into the night air while the others mutter incoherently to themselves. But that’s the charm of Eden. It takes notes from previously established horror games such as Dying Light, Dead Island, and visually stunning games such as BRINK and brings their ideas to life, but in such a way we’d never before seen.
Tutorials. Tons of tutorials and few irritating bugs.
However, my time on the island wasn’t easy as I’d thought it would be. Within my first few hours, I had a good 20-30 tutorials pop up on screen, unfortunately, some being just within seconds of my pending death due to the unfortunate position I am in. Other times, even with our rig (specs above), I’d often see P.A.M.E.L.A. dip into painstakingly low framerates on Ultra High, at times only pushing 40-45 fps at 1080p while I can crank games such as Conan Exiles, DOOM (2016), and even Forza 7 with little to no problems, often exceeding between 90-100 fps (frames per second) on Ultra High with all settings cranked to max.
Sadly, much of this could be a combination of poor optimization with Nvidia’s GPU’s or the assets loading in the background in real time as you move about. Regardless, the framerate dips, after a few tweaks to lighting and motion blur, have all but disappeared for the time being. Even then, the game is gorgeous, it’s a visual beauty to be had. The biggest drawback is this. Even after the good 3-5 minute load time (the initial load screen when you first start), I’d hope this wouldn’t be a thing as it sometimes can be with massive games such as this.
But what’s more unique about this game is it blends survival elements from games we’ve played in the past such as ARK: Survival Evolved, RUST, and even DayZ and does it in such a way that it’s entirely unique to the game. Along with the crafting of weapons, armor, gear, food stations, water repositories/collectors, P.A.M.E.L.A. also sees to that you take care of the base, giving maintenance to it as needed, which includes repairing broken power connections throughout the island, solving what exactly is happening all-the-while searching for answers about what has happened to your friends and colleagues on the island.
Combat, however, is not where this game shines the most. It does suffer intermittently with hit detection issues when it comes to weapons such as the Surgical Laser and the Mortar. I often found that the secondary function for the Mortar rarely worked if at all. Enemies wouldn’t respond to the flames hitting their bodies, animations wouldn’t even display an inkling of an idea that I was hitting them with a flamethrower at any given time. Toss into the mix that I was shooting them with a laser, you’d expect hit markers and burns on their bodies.
P.A.M.E.L.A.’s graphics and sound make it an extremely unsettling experience
When it comes to graphics, we can’t exactly ignore how far P.A.M.E.L.A. continues to shape-up since its launch into early access. The artistic nature of the game is mind-blowingly disturbing in every sense of the word. Enemies are not who you’d think they are. They’re your neighbors, your friends, maybe even your family members. These are people you knew and lived with and to make this even more known, you get to explore the shops they visited, which feel lived in, natural, and homely.
Newspapers, letters, magazines, luggage bags, and even shopping bags are left astray. Quarantine zones give a grizzly idea of everything that went completely wrong ranging from the highly detailed body bags, each being surprisingly realistic even in the dim lighting in the buildings due to the power outages spread across the island.
Neon lights accent the floors, illuminating the area around it and even lighting up the areas rather uniquely, that is, until the power goes out, which soon changes what is lighting the room in a completely different manner. You’ll see the AARMs of enemies glowing in the distance, lighting up walkways, illuminating the area to some visible point.
Top in the fact graphics are on par with most game releases int he modern day and you have a game that’s rather unique, one with tons of potential as far as graphics, sound, and animations go. More uniquely, however, is the sound design. Astonishingly, this has one of the best sound designs to date. You don’t often see games neglecting the use of music or ambient tunes, but P.A.M.E.L.A. does. It’s not ashamed of its lack of music or ambient tunes.
Instead, it’s an eerie experience, one where you only hear random robots acknowledge you as you walk on past them or the shuffle of survivors as they walk about the island, searching for any none infected to infect or remove from existence. In the main area of the island, it’s even eerier. You don’t hear much outside of robots moving around, the subtle sound of vending machines near or the soft hum that allows some of the security boats to float around. It’s really a disturbing experience when roaming around what should have been considered an oceanic paradise.
Unfortunately, that never happened and for the intentions of hit detection and immersion, this actually takes away from it and can seem problematic for those looking to have an AI that responds as realistically as it should. But put these minor irritations aside and P.A.M.E.L.A. has a lot of potential to continue growing, just as we’ve claimed it would for nearly a year.
While the game still has fixes regarding performance, hit detection, and some minor graphics and animations; P.A.M.E.L.A. is already an amazing experience and it is receiving as many updates as the developers in order to deliver one of the best experiences to date. With all that said, we have a lot of hope for this game since it is still in Early Access and could even see itself grow to be one of the best horror-survival games to date.
P.A.M.E.L.A. – PC
Developer: NVYVE Studios
Publisher: NVYVE Studios
Release Date: TBA | Available now via Early Access
Cost: $24.99 USD
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About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.