Near Death looks like The Thing without, well, the Thing

February 29, 2016 by Kris Ligman

Orthogonal's newest game mixes wilderness survival with a very John Carpenter flair.

Look at that. Look at that.

If you are at all like me, then you may hold the opinion that John Carpenter's The Thing is a nearly perfect film. The enduring quality of its creature effects and best damn performance by a canine in the history of cinema aside, Carpenter's 1982 The Thing is a masterwork in remote, claustrophobic scene setting. And if you do not see that movie all over the above trailer, I don't know what to tell you.

The second title from Orthogonal Games, the people who previously brought us The Novelist, Near Death is described as a harsh survival simulator where the player is never more than a few minutes from an icy death. Set on a mysteriously abandoned Antarctic research outpost, the game boasts a realtime weather and temperature system. Not only are you battling the elements in an active way by stepping outside into deadly ice storms, but it appears doors and perhaps other interactables will re-freeze after you've thawed them, requiring the player maintain a brisk (hah) pace if they want to survive the long, long night.

Near Death's website also promises an explanation for why the snowed-in outpost has been abandoned. I'm not saying I'm placing money on a self-replicating alien organism disguised as a Malumut, but...

(Yes, I know there is already an actual videogame of The Thing. Carpenter was even involved with it! But don't tell me you wouldn't enjoy something a little less Shooty McDeathalien and a little more in the spirit of the original, which this seems to be adding up to.)

Tonally, Near Death is a world away from The Novelist, which was a pretty intimate game set mainly in a family summer home and revolving around interpersonal conflicts. It's also a marked departure in terms of visuals, opting instead for something much closer to the photorealism of a lot of other recent first-person spookfests, like Slender and Amnesia. I don't think we should expect a conventional horror game so much as the kind of harsh survivalist fantasies which have recently come into vogue (Laura wrote about some of them), but this certainly seems one to watch.

There's no definite release date yet, but Near Death is expected to trundle its way onto Steam later this year.

Kris Ligman is the News Editor of ZAM. They are definitely not the Thing, no matter what Childs says. Find them on Twitter @KrisLigman.