One of the first lessons I learn Dead waste is that I can use my own vomit as a resource, so I scrape my vomit off the floor and put it in my inventory. This will come in handy as these ancient machines require biomaterial to function. It’s a quick way to get used to the strange world that awaits me out there.
Dead waste is an early access role-playing game developed by Crafting Legends that feels like a 2021 version of the original Fail. I come from a bastion of security and enter a hostile wasteland to earn a living. Along the way, I encounter small civilizations and groups of people in need of help. These quest breadcrumbs lead me on my way to more groups and larger storylines and so on, until I am really caught up in a complex narrative ecosystem full of mystery and danger.
Similar to other RPGs, I get a limited pool of points that I can send towards stats and skills. Tools like empathy allow me to explore further opportunities for conversation, while animalism allows me to pick up small meatworms and hurl them at my enemies. I can specialize in rifles and stay behind to take down my enemies with ranged fire, or forego the tedious ammo management and just hit people with blunt weapons.
As soon as I have explored an area – a dungeon, a settlement or a clearing – to my satisfaction, I return to the upper world map. In my travels, I often find myself confronted with raiders or cultists who want nothing more than to beat my ass up for interrupting their day.
While this game has a lot in common with the old Fallouts and Wastelands, you’ll struggle in Dead waste is not turn based. In fact, it’s quick and sometimes desperate. My character has to roll around to dodge shots, reload their rifle after every volley of counterfire, and use skills like shock or stealth carefully to survive. The further I get into the game, the easier it is to destroy things. At some point I transform into a stealth monster that shows up, stabs my enemies in the back, and disappears back into the shadows without anyone noticing.
Unfortunately many Dead waste in its current early access form is not really satisfactory. There’s not much here – you can get through the main quest in about two hours, and many quests don’t have a satisfactory narrative finish. Instead, the game just gently prompts you to come back for full release sometime in 2022. The experience starts with a ton of promise and does an amazing job of wooing you with the atmosphere of its early environments and the appeal of its characters. like the lonely but friendly flesh octopus.
But once you get interested in the flesh of things, cracks begin to show Dead waste‘s early access build. For example, animalism sounds funny, and it’s great to use worms as makeshift projectiles. But I haven’t been able to find any other use for the skill in the game so far, so it feels like a drop in points with no purpose. Occultism, which also sounds like a lot of fun – of course I want to know about the creepy, mysterious side of this already strange world – doesn’t seem to come up at all. At first I was happy with how streamlined items and inventory were, but enemies kept dropping the same things as an old rifle. I’ve always waited for shinier prey and a sense of progress, but it never really came.
At the moment, Dead waste feels like a demo. It’s a great preview of what a great game could be, but it’s not a complete main course in and of itself. I look forward to the game’s release in 2022, but for now, I’m putting it back. There’s a lot of potential here, and I’m looking forward to a little taste, but I don’t want to spoil my appetite for the meaty end product.