At this years Gamescom, Survivethis had the chance to sit down and share a drink with Tomislav Pongrac, the creative director of the prison survival game SCUM. We knew very little about the story of the game and decided that we should dig a little deeper to find out just what this prison sandbox is all about. From what we have gathered so far, SCUM sounds a lot like The Hunger Games series by way of game objective and audience participation. With the idea of groups teaming up for a better chance of survival to trusting no one and running solo making the world your playground. How you want to play will decide how long you will survive in the harsh dog-eat-dog arena. So let us take a look at the origins of life under TEC1…
A World Run by Corporations
The world has changed. Money has become the true source of absolute power. Massive corporations have gained control over our countries and governments and use them as puppets for their own personal gain. Resources are privately owned and military powers are more like guns for hire instead of the armed forces our countries rely on. All through the ages, there has never been a greater divide of humanity. The top 1% of the population has enslaved the rest of the world to do its bidding. Most of the population is refusing to accept the current state of affairs and are rising up to oppose the reign of greed. Police and military forces are called upon to quell the rebellion but with each day comes more resistance. Rebels are being labeled as either terrorists or criminals, and are arrested and transported to private security prisons. Once imprisoned, there is little hope of survival. Many who are ‘lucky’ enough to reach the end of their sentence usually suffer from mental illness and cannot adapt back into society, and often die shortly after their release. There’s even suspicion that illegal experiments are carried out on inmates, but these accusations are dismissed and treated as unjust accusations.
The elite 1%, rulers of the new Earth, are trying to keep the current situation at any cost. Prison sentences are often the death penalty for even the smallest of crimes is not helping them to keep control. A proposition is made by a global broadcasting company called TEC1. Their idea is accepted and so project ‘Island’ began.
The motive is simple, instead of punishing more people and sparking more uprising, broadcast a special reality tv show and captivate the audience. Make them watch people more unfortunate than themselves with a show that is aired 24/7 with no restrictions. The show’s purpose is to stage an arena with modern-day gladiators, prisoners who are sentenced to death. This new Colosseum comes in the form of the island, Bagne de Cayenne.
SCUMs Got Talent
The show is aired all across the globe and prisoners are in the spotlight 24 hours a day. Any prisoner can make a name for their self and become a fan favorite, earning fame points. This is used to gain favors and receive drops from sponsors which will help your character stay on top (nothing like The Hunger Games really). The more entertaining a player is, the more fame points they will receive. Cool right? Well, that is until a bounty is placed on your head and you become a massive target. There’s no better way to score fame points by taking out a famous player. If they become too big and give too much hope to the rocky civilization back in the real world. Then that person may be targeted by a black ops task force which is hidden from the cameras, in an attempt to stop this person or group that may cause a problem for the company.
Life on the Island
Before the first broadcast of TEC1s show, there were over 200,000 people inhabiting the remote island. With some cities and settlements scattered across the land, there was also an airport, a military base, some industrial areas and a prison. The island has a very green setting with Mediterranean-style weather with some beaches and resorts. In the center stands vast mountains where snow sits atop the summits all year round.
After TEC1 gained control of the island, businesses were forced to close and residents were chased out of their homes in preparation for TEC1s new TV show. Many people had to leave in search of a new home but those who chose to stay were abandoned on the island to fend for themselves after the prisoners began to settle in. Scores of people were killed by the criminals and ‘Project Island’ had turned this once exotic paradise into a war zone.
Our Story Begins in Prison
Further information on the backstory of SCUM can be found here.
Let us have a look at some of the features which we can expect from this exciting title. So we know that players will drop into the island via a parachute and we also know there is a small pack containing some items to help our ‘criminal’ in his quest to live. The packs contain weapons, food, medical supplies and even some survival gear. I believe there to be a choice of what items you can choose for your pack and this will aid you in the way you want to play the game. Players are airlifted to a drop zone and are forced out of the plane. Each player is kitted out with an orange jumpsuit and a parachute. This poses a rather big question: when is the right time to pull the chord? Players will have to make a choice while hurling down towards the ground, do we pull it early and risk heading slowly towards an ambush? Or do we wait till we a dangerously close to impact to give our enemies less chance to react to our whereabouts?
The most intriguing feature of SCUM is the real-ish time metabolism rates and how it varies in different types and builds of characters. The developers called upon their fans to submit data on their lifestyles and fitness performance to get an idea of how metabolism changes through diets and fitness levels. With promises of a mention in the credits of the game and access to a closed beta, fans threw themselves at the chance. Even Tomislav Pongrac himself decided he would experiment and record his own data. Deterioration of food will have a major impact on players health causing illness and without a cure, it could turn you into a zombie…
I’ve Got You Under my Skin
TEC1 has made sure that they have always remained in control. One of which is by implanting a Bio Control Unit into the neck of every one of their prisoners. BCUs are an implant that overrides a person’s basic brain function and an AI takes control of the body. The first model of BCUs (BCU-1) was used only for medical purposes. Brain damaged patients were kept alive by a coma induced by the implant, and body is kept alive using basic life essential functions until the patient is cured. The BCU-2 was made available for military and industrial use. Since its first release, TEC1 have upgraded the AI in the BCU-2 units making them a major asset for their second season. The main uses include:
- Taking control of a subject once they are deceased. The basic body movements are rebooted and the AI system will take control. It is even possible that multiple subjects can be controlled in a horde.
- Capable of broadcasting footage directly from the subject’s eyes, giving viewers a full view of the horror that the criminals are creating.
- BCU-2 is fitted with a locator and a small explosive charge. The explosive is used as a booby trap to stop prisoners from removing the device. It is possible to disable the unit but TEC1 has not made it easy for us.
- TEC1 use the implant to control wildlife. A lot of money has been invested in the Bio-Control Unit and some of the funding has been used to breed special animal hybrids for Military purposes. These breeds will be dropped onto the island from time to time to give the prisoners something else to think about.
Many different names are given to subjects after they have departed. ‘Puppets’ is the most common and the best way to describe their current circumstance. Implants can be destroyed using a direct blow to the implant or to tear it from the neck. Once removed, a self-destruct sequence is activated and players have 30 seconds to clear the blast area.
I See You…..
To keep viewers interested groups of ‘Hunters’ (Very Rich people or lottery winners) have their chance to enter the battleground to hunt the prisoners for sport. There’s a transport that lands on the island which after a certain time will come back to pick them up. If they fail to meet that deadline then they will have to wait for the next transport to bring in another group. All throughout the show, cargo drops will be sent in for the prisoners to reach with new equipment, food or medical supplies. They could also be a trap sent by TEC1 to spice up the show. These drop zones will be targeted by everyone and mark a danger spot for anyone brave enough to try to acquire some new items.
Will you have what it takes to survive a time on the island? Will you be one of the few who manages to escape? Early access of SCUM will be released sometime in 2018.