Abiotic Factor PC Review: Inspired by Half-Life and That’s a Good Thing

User Rating: 8
Abiotic Factor PC Review: Inspired by Half-Life and That's a Good Thing

Imagine yourself as an ordinary scientist in a research complex somewhere in the desert. Another working day doesn’t promise anything unusual: jokes with a security guard, conversations with colleagues, coffee from a vending machine – everything goes as usual until suddenly it happens… No, not a cascade resonance, this is not happening in Black Mesa, your name is not Gordon, and this is not a retelling of the events of Half-Life. This is our Abiotic Factor PC review.

What is the game in general? Try to imagine a mixture of Project Zomboid and Space Station 13, and all this takes place in the world of Half-Life. This is roughly what it represents. If you have not played the above, you can imagine the following situation:

You arrive at your favorite job, everything is going as usual, but suddenly the security guard says to you: “So, for now, mind your own business, something incomprehensible is happening here, I’ll be right back.” And it doesn’t come. And instead of your colleagues, alien dogs and frogs roam in the office, protective bellows are activated at night, which consider you a threat, and you want to eat, drink and go to the toilet in a big way.

Gameplay features

So, let’s figure out whether this is an ordinary survival game or something more. Let’s think a little about what we like about Survival games. Why are some gamers so captivated by them? For example, some people like such games to be realistic. Some people want the game to be exciting and fun. But everyone likes the feeling of fear for their virtual life. The very thing that defines a survival game as such. This is the danger that awaits us every second! We need to look for food, build shelters, and protect ourselves from various creatures that really want to have breakfast with us.

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At first glance, Abiotic Factor is an ordinary representative of the survival genre. But its peculiarity is that it is capable of generating situations that are both funny and scary, just like the recently sensational Lethal Company. This game contains a whole mix of mechanics that add realism, but at the same time, it looks very funny. For example, you can craft nets and throw them over the cosmoshab so they cannot attack you. Then, you can trample this space toad in order to fry its delicious radioactive meat and enjoy it with your friends.

Remember at the beginning of the article I mentioned “going big”? So, this was said for a reason. In addition to the usual mechanics of Hunger, Thirst, and Sleep, there is also Need. And this whole thing is done in the form of a simple mini-game.

In order to craft a new thing, we first need to understand how to make it. The learning mechanics here are approximately the following: find a new component, use logic in a separate menu, select different components in order to learn how to craft this very item. It may sound complicated, but in practice the game mechanics are quite simple and interesting.

There are a huge number of items here, from different types of weapons and armor to interior items and various things for survival. After playing for five hours, we learned how to craft more than 100 items, and even the first floor of the complex has not been fully explored!

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Tribute

So, a physicist came to work, and there it was! In the world of Abiotic Factor, research into “this” is carried out by GATE, a worldwide network of scientific laboratories studying all kinds of anomalies, from portals to other dimensions and mystical paranormalism to antigravity and aliens. Here, it would be appropriate to recall not the HL universe, which we remember as an example of sometimes not always serious but still “hard” science fiction, but the SCP Foundation – GATE is much closer to it.

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The developers are not shy about once again emphasizing their, dare I say it, love for both projects. This is not cloning or parody – the most appropriate description, it seems, would be the word “homage”: in art, this is the name for imitation and, at the same time, tribute to another author.

At the same time, Deep Field Games managed to both avoid excessive seriousness and not slip into ridicule: you won’t find a dominance of low-grade jokes (despite the fact that among your character’s needs is the fulfillment of natural needs).

SCP is an interesting universe, but I still respect the first part of Half-Life much more, and Abiotic Factor knows how to please fans. The characters here talk like Gordon’s interlocutors, and the monsters, both in appearance and behavior, resemble opponents from Half-Life. Let alone weapons, items, graphics, and sound design—the last time I experienced such a feeling of nostalgia was when I played Black Mesa.

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The most important similarity, however, lies in the setting of a large-scale disaster that broke out in the middle of a huge research complex. The laboratory here is divided into sectors – scientific, office, and production. Each one has its own style and pace of passage. Studying locations, piece by piece, collecting the chronology of what happened, is not at all boring, although formally, this is a cooperative survival game – storytelling in this genre is traditionally relegated to the background.

Locations and research

At the moment, it seems that there are a lot of locations. This is the complex itself, with several floors and buildings, and in addition to this – other dimensions! The level design constantly features elements from the first Half-Life, which adds a plus to the piggy bank. If you, like me, are a fan of Cascade Resonance, then you will get your dose of nostalgia here, I promise you 🙂

On top of that, the whole thing is built in the form of a kind of Metroidvania. To get to where it’s more difficult, you must learn how to do certain things, such as hacking devices or finding passes. This mechanic probably won’t appeal to everyone, but by doing so, the game gradually increases difficulty and gives the appearance of progress. I thought this was a very interesting idea.

The game seems to be a sandbox: players are free to do what they want, create what they want, and go where they are interested. But at the same time, they always have some kind of goal. Find batteries to craft some item, kill a night fur, or something like that. Well, in general, it’s up to your preference.

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Cooperative experience

Yes, this game has its own “classes” made in the style of professions (similar to those in the previously mentioned Project Zomboid) and various characteristics that need to be developed and upgraded.

“Do you like to build bases? Start as a Design Engineer! Do you want to become the head chef of the team? Choose the Culinary Explorer specialty, and cooking will be yours! Or maybe you are not a theoretician by nature, and practice is closer to you? Become a defense analyst – a smarter version of a security guard. At least one of the bespectacled people here must know how to use a weapon, huh?”

Abiotic Factor gives you the choice of any specialization that is closest to you personally. The characteristics vary as in many similar projects. The more you run, the faster you run. The more you fight, the better you fight. Nothing extra, beauty!

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In general, when playing alone, you can calmly play for your pleasure and not lose anything. You might even like it! But the game is still designed for co-op. It is with other people that you will get the emotions that the Abiotic Factor wants.

Build your shelters from scrap materials, explore, ride forklifts, and fight with huge mechanical mechs, feeling like a security guard from Five Nights at Freddy’s – in the co-op, it will all sparkle with new colors.

With the professional system, surviving in a team will be a little easier. The cook cooks, the security guard guards, and the engineer builds and makes traps. Everyone has a duty. In general, playing in co-op gives the same emotions that we previously experienced when playing Project Zomboid or Space Station 13, adding our own unique pieces. I advise all lovers of joint gatherings to check it out.

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Mix of genres

Co-op is co-op, but there’s nothing stopping you from trying Abiotic Factor solo. I played more with friends, but I also tried it alone: co-op at the same time adds fun but does not have the best effect on immersion. On the other hand, it is more convenient to carry out tasks in a crowd – you can distribute responsibilities in such a way that everyone does their own thing and gather only when fighting especially numerous and dangerous opponents. Sometimes, it’s too boring for one person to collect loot and kill upgraded enemies, even if this happens infrequently.

And yet, in my opinion, being a survivor here is rather conditional: the need to craft items (without this, you simply cannot advance through the plot), random generation of loot, and the constant revival of enemies peacefully coexist with a linear narrative and the absence of an open world. The experience system also doesn’t change the situation much – there is a division into classes and leveling up skills, but you don’t have to pay much attention to this, at least in the current version.

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Some players even recall metroidvanias – there are places here that can only be reached after your character finds a workaround, masters the necessary skills, or receives special equipment.

Nevertheless, you will still have to “vacuum clean” locations in search of loot and acquire a traditional survivalist base – at least to create on the workbench the things necessary to advance through the plot. Other attributes of the genre, such as the mandatory reflection of waves of enemies (they are activated at night), the construction of fortifications with traps, and so on – strictly at will; when playing solo, you can do without it.

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Abiotic Factor is also good because it makes you remember the times when you had to find information about the game yourself, without the help of the all-knowing Internet. I advise you not to spoil your fun and not look for guides and other tips – especially if there is a collective mind in the form of co-op comrades and a fun mini-game on “inventing” a blueprint for the next tool or object.

I will leave the important question of replayability unanswered. Let me remind you that this is a linear, story-driven game, and not a typical open-world survival game, so there is no endgame as such here. Replaying already familiar levels is unlikely to be interesting: there is nothing to explore, and the battles are rather clumsy and not particularly exciting.

Finally, it is worth praising the developers for the fact that even in the early version, the community has excellent tools for customizing the gameplay for themselves: the host has dozens of parameters at its disposal, and among the servers, you can already find projects with mods and the beginnings of RP communities.

If the authors of Abiotic Factor can maintain the quality level, then each update will be a real holiday for the community. It’s not just about locations: new mechanics are planned, such as a laser system, additional enemies, items, and resources.

In the meantime, I want to thank the developers for being able to remind me how much I loved the first Half-Life – apparently, they love it just as much.

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Is the game worth your time?

If you’ve read up to this point, it means you’re probably interested in the game. Should you play it? It’s up to you to decide!  If you are interested in cooperative or survival games, a world made in the style of Black Mesa, or if the game as a whole has intrigued you a little, you can confidently give it a try.

Moreover, the abundance of content that currently exists is only part of an early version. The release, as indicated on the developers’ website, is expected in early 2024. Therefore, you still have sufficient time to evaluate this project without missing out on anything.

Summary
If you prioritize top-notch graphics for full immersion in the game world, you may want to explore other options. However, if you are drawn to the curated exploration experience of a game inspired by the original Half-Life, then Abiotic Factor is worth considering. This game may be controversial, but it offers a unique exploration experience that will appeal to Half-Life fans.
Good
  • Abundance of content for early access - 20 hours +
  • Kraft
  • Unconventional approach to overcoming obstacles
  • Systems for survival from hunger to relief
Bad
  • Minor bugs
  • Early access
8
Great

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