They Call Me The Wanderer
So this is a bad of an odd tangent from the 31 day horror-athon, but October the 22nd is far too important a date to not include the last of the Fallout games by Bethesda Studios.
While Fallout 4 is one of the most colourful and superficially upbeat games of the series the subject matter is undeniably grim, Not only has the world been decimated with nuclear fire, the survivors continue to fight for survival 200 years later.
Picking at the scraps of the old world while feasting on each other, the human survivors must contend with grotesque humanoid mutants, wild, mutated animals and even the rotting feral remains of other humans – known to the wasteland only as ‘ghouls.
I’m not sure if it was something to do with being exposed to countless Cold War documentaries during the 90s, or watching Mad Max (1979) and Mad Max 2 (1981) ad nauseam during my teens – but the threat of nuclear fallout and society turning in on itself has always hung over my head.
So I’m not sorry for this. Post-apocalyptic stories may be closer to straight sci-fi, but it sure scares the hell out of me.
So What’s The Plot?
The date is 22nd October 2077 and you play as either a man or woman living in a 1950s-style future suburbia. You live a perfect life with your infant child and spouse, in a quaint little house in Sanctuary Hills, Boston.
While playing with your child, the panicked voice of your house robot calls out for you. You head into the living room just in time to hear a news report that there has been a missile strike against the United States. In the chaos that follows, you flee your house with family in tow and run to the nearest fallout shelter (which happens to just be round the corner – what a convenient coincidence!).
You pass by your screaming neighbours just in time to be granted access before you witness a missile slam into the distance – the mushroom cloud erupts and the hurricane-like wind blows over your head as you are lowered into the vault below.
Inside the shelter, you are welcomed in by a surprisingly chipper employees of Vault-Tec – a shadowy organisation that profited from the growing tensions between the US and China, building vast nuclear shelters across the country.
You are quickly ushered through security and led deeper into the vault, where you are instructed to enter a small pod in order to be fully ‘decontaminated’. You agree, stepping inside as your partner does the same, holding the baby in their arms. The chamber begins to work around you, but it doesn’t seem to be decontaminating you. Your breathing quickens as ice crystals form on the glass and you find yourself… drifting off.
You awaken with two figures standing outside the window. They resemble extras from a Mad Max rip off and through the glass you can hear them talking about something. They open your spouse’s pod and there is a struggle – then a gunshot.
Eventually, you manage to prize open the door to your pod and uncover every parent’s nightmare. Your partner is dead and your child has been abducted.
In the quest to find your missing son, you must leave the relative safety of the vault and wander the nuclear wasteland. You have been frozen for well over 200 years and you quickly discover that a lot has changed.
To survive, you must fight for every scrap. You must hunt or scavenge for food and water. There is no running or hiding if you want to find your son – and your search will take you to the highest and lowest point in the wasteland.
Let me just say that Fallout 4 was a highly anticipated game when it came out in 2015. I freely admit I was on the hype train and this was what made me finally take the plunge and sink my money into an Xbox One.
My general impression? Eh.
To stand out from its peers, Fallout 4 attempted to tell a complex story. For the first time, the protagonist’s background was chosen for you and the voice acting meant a massively cut down list of dialogue options compared to earlier entries in the franchise.
So an RPG with a limited range to roleplay? I guess that isn’t so bad. Unfortunately a focus on bland missions and side quests meant that most of the game itself seemed to be about fetching items or clearing buildings of enemies. I can’t be the only one who finds this sort of thing boring, surely?
The game also features an all-new (Minecraft inspired) building mechanic, which allows a player to build their own settlements in the wasteland. Fallout 4 encourages its players to use this mechanic in about the same manner a desperate teenager will ‘encourage’ their girlfriend to try this thing he saw on the internet – with sweaty pleads and constant whining. The first time I played this game, I deliberately ignored every single attempt to persuade me into building just to make a point.
More recently, I have broadened my mind and gave it a go – while playing in the newly added Survival Mode. If you want a game experience closely resembling house demolition using only your forehead – you’re in for a treat. Sadistic, hard and quite genuinely terrifying in a dark tunnel – Survival Mode is the only way to play.
But wait, there’s more!
I know this wasn’t really much of a horror review, I’m sorry. Let me make it up to you with this clip from Chris Morris’ deliciously sinister Channel 4 sketch show jam.
(Incidentally, this turned up on one of those 100 scariest moments polls – let me know if you spot why).
Yours, A P Tyler