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Away: The Survival Series

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Breaking Walls
Release Date: Sept. 28, 2021


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PS4/PC Preview - 'Away: The Survival Series'

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 16, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Away: The Survival Series is a high-flying adventure that brings nature documentaries to life.

When it was announced on Kickstarter, Away: The Survival Series promised to be unique. It wasn't necessarily the setting, which looks like it takes place in a post-human future where nature has reclaimed the Earth. It isn't the fact that you're starting the game as a creature at the bottom of the food chain. Instead, it is the presence of narration that makes the whole thing feel like a nature documentary. We got a chance to check out the prototype to see what we should expect next year.

The developers weren't kidding when they stated that this was a prototype of the gliding mechanic, since that's all you get to do here. There is the option to do some free roam at the end, where you can check out life as other smaller animals and insects when you glide on some orange orbs, but the experience is so brief that it's difficult to form an opinion about how those experiences will go. Expect to glide and nothing else.

With that said, the gliding feels rather good, albeit tricky since you aren't just gliding through open air but also trying to avoid obstacles. That means you'll be going in between trees, going under rocky arches and above rivers, and even avoiding animals that are unaware of your presence. You obviously can't swim or crash into a tree or rock, as you'll fail. You also can't land on the ground no matter how safe it might be. That's a bit easier said than done, since the controls can be rather sensitive, whether you use the keyboard and mouse combination or a standard gamepad. This is something you'll spend some time to master instead of having a successful run the first time out.

Once you master the controls, you'll find the setup for the prototype to be interesting, since it is a little deceptive. You start off at the top of a log and are tasked with chasing down a dragonfly to eat it. The dragonfly leaves behind a light trail for you to follow, and you get to pass by blue orbs that give you a temporary boost of speed to catch up to the insect. However, you never get to eat the thing, as the game considers a run successful once you land safely on the ground. In this case, the prototype is just giving you a set of three obstacle courses in the hopes of familiarizing yourself with the gliding mechanic and how tricky it can ultimately be.

Although it is very early on in the development process, Away has a nice presentation. The environments are absolutely gorgeous, and even though there is some graphical pop-up evident on things like the cliff sides, it doesn't take away from how picturesque things look. The few animals you see in the game also look nice, but your prolonged exposure to the sugar glider already makes that model the most adorable one in the game. Sound-wise, the music sounds like it could have come from a nature documentary, and that feeling is bolstered by the brief presence of the narrator who, while not exactly David Attenborough, remains an engaging enough voice to keep you interested in the proceedings.

Based on the prototype alone, it is too early to tell much about Away: The Survival Series. From what we saw, we know that it looks quite good, even in its prototype state. We also know that there's some real charm in being a cute little sugar glider soaring through the island. However, due to that being a small sample of the game, we'll need to do more than chase down dragonflies to see how things are coming along with the development. Hopefully we'll be able to get our hands on a more in-depth demo before Away's 2020 release.

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