Any experience that kicks off by tasking me to make a martini is fine in my book. However things quickly go from cocktails to castaways in Stranded Deep, the Early Access project that’s pretty much Bear Grylls: The Game. Dumped on a procedurally generated desert island, you start with a knife, a lighter, and a very strong sense of your own infinitesimal tininess among the cosmos. You simply have to live for as long as possible.
In the full release there will likely be some kind of ‘get rescued’ endgame, but at present you just need to indulge your inner Tom Hanks and fish, build and scavenge in order to survive. There are two main mechanics at play: crafting and building. You can craft things like fire pits and crude tools, and then build beds, boats and even modest huts. All of this is vitally useful because should you become sleep deprived or soaked through in the often inclement weather, then you’ll likely die. Well, you’ll probably die sooner or later anyway, but these things tend to bring it on even quicker.
But your world doesn’t end with the shores of your own private island. For starters, you can paddle or swim your way across to neighbouring outcrops of land should you need to tap them for crafting resources such as sticks and rocks. More interesting, though, are the various shipwrecks you can explore and loot for treasures of a relatively high-tech nature.
Locked away inside these sunken vessels you can find axes, machetes, harpoon guns, diving gear, flashlights, morphine and even motor parts that could enable you to build your own boat. Scavenge enough and you can live your very own life of Riley on your palm-lined paradise… albeit one in which you’re constantly sunburnt and subsist on nothing but crabs and coconuts.
Stranded Deep does have its issues, including a clunky crafting/building system, a total lack of player guidance (be sure to dip into online guides), and no set objectives or way to win. But the systems are in place to ensure that this is a survival break that you’ll enjoy much more than that week in Butlins with your Mum and Nan.