SOS (Alpha) Review – Get Your Improv On

SOS
Outpost Games, Inc.

This sure is one game that came out of left field for me. I didn’t receive any press releases about it. No one told me about it. You know how I caught wind of it? I came across it myself haphazardly while browsing through Steam. Then, when I checked out SOS’s main trailer and immediately thought to myself “Oh no, not another PUBG wannabe.”

But as I kept finding out more and more about the game, it began to remind me more of another battle royale title: Xavient Game’s, ill-fated The Culling. Just as with The Culling, SOS pits sixteen contestants against each other on a jungle island (this one’s called El Cuna). Only here you have 30 minutes to achieve victory instead of 25 as in The Culling. SOS also presents itself as a TV gameshow within a video game. And just when I thought that the similarities were over, I noticed that SOS seems to have the same goofy-voiced announcer as well.

However, SOS’s setup is much more reality TV-themed. You get some slick cutscenes at the start of every game, and then each of the pre-designed gameshow contestants are introduced. Well, actually, you have to introduce yourself.  You see, in SOS every player has to have a mic because the game is so heavily based around communication that if you don’t, you’ll be at a serious disadvantage. Whereas in other survival games your reaction speed and aim with your guns are what matter the most, in SOS your mouth and demeanor can win the day.

Each game begins with the players starting off on the fringes of the El Cuna’s shorelines. Paths snake inwards through dense foliage, and eventually wind around both villages and decrepit Indiana Jones-style temples. As each player (or duo if playing with a friend) moves further towards these points of interest, they have to investigate these areas for certain items, most importantly weapons and relics.

Each player who gets their grimy mitts on a relic can shoot a flare into the sky, which signals to a helicopter hovering over the island that it’s time to pick that lucky contestant up. But there are only three relics, and sixteen contestants. You can see how this could be a problem. Oh, and there are some nasty, long-toothed and taloned monsters on the island as well who just so happen to love human flesh.

My first game of SOS started off quite in an embarrassing fashion. Since I didn’t know that I’d have to introduce myself, I sort of squealed out a nervous “Hey…uh…there,” in a weird, nasally voice. I probably sounded like some guy dressed like Pee-Wee Herman playing with his popcorn in the back of an adult movie theater.

After starting off on the beach, I immediately dashed inwards towards the POI’s and quickly came across my first weapon—a knife. As I turned around from the case I’d withdrawn the knife from I was suddenly greeted by two other players. This gave me the opportunity to see why mics are so important in SOS.

Since I’d read that the audio you broadcast in-game is always being heard by real live audiences who are watching each game, I knew using improve would go a long ways. Besides, I had to make up for my abysmal introduction.

“I’ll be your slave if you want me to,” I offered in a goofy voice.

“Hmmm…but you’ve got the knife, maybe we’ll be your slaves,” one of them said.

“Yeah, just don’t hurt us…too badly anyway,” the other snarkily chimed in.

“Only if I get to cut off that dopey purple wig you got on your dome and nail it to my lodge wall,” I said, noting that one of the two characters was a female with shoulder-length purple hair. I must have passed their improve test because before I knew it, we were all high-fiving (SOS’s way of allying with other players).

From there, we killed our enemies—who had likewise coalesced into teams—grabbed a relic, shot a flare into the sky, and eventually got helo-lifted from the island. After playing a few more games (which I died in), I realized that “winning” (i.e. getting lifted off of the island) really didn’t matter to me. What mattered more was the pure, unadulterated fun that I was having throughout each match of SOS.

That’s because the dynamic nature of the game itself is matched only by the unpredictability of real human interactions with your fellow contestants. More often than not, I experienced some seriously hilarious situations that I remembered long after I’d logged off of the game itself. In SOS, you’ll unavoidably become entangled in all manner of hilarious hijinks. Not only are things super-spontaneous, but most people like to really ham it up as well, probably due to the fact that they know they’re being watched by an audience.

SOS’s graphics are hands down some of the best I’ve seen for a battle royale-style game. Unlike similar games such as PUBG or The Culling, each contestant in SOS is highly detailed and even comes with some very emotive facial expressions. The environmental visuals are likewise very polished looking (except for the odd bit of tearing here and there) and show an immense attention to detail. I don’t know if it’s just me being spoiled by games these days, but little things such as foliage moving around my character really goes a long way, in terms of immersion. SOS has that and more—such as feet prints staying in the sand and blood leaking from wounds.

SOS is a little skimpy when it comes to content, but that’s quite understandable since it’s only in Alpha. I’m really interested in seeing what sorts of additional weapons and other items they’ll add in later. I just hope that they keep the game melee-centric, instead becoming just another “whoever-grabs-the-AK-first” clone. Games that force you into up-close and personal combat always makes the proceedings seem more visceral and savage.

If you’re a fan of survival games, comedy, and wits over weapons, SOS is definitely a charming little title that has a lot of potential. If handled properly, I can easily see it being one of the break-out titles of 2018, and maybe even a top 10 contender. Is this the dawn of a new genre…survival improv?

SCORE: 84%

SOS features outstanding graphics that make its survival horror gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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