Basingstoke, from developer Puppygames (Revenge of the Titans, Ultraton), is a fast-paced, survival-horror game which features clever stealth and diversion options. These are handy to have as the game’s levels are procedural, and you will die in a single hit.
Basingstoke, while not explicitly set within pre-existing Puppygames properties, sees you controlling a survivor as they explore a manifestation of the titular town. By the developer’s own admission, Basingstoke’s a pretty unremarkable town normally — this isn’t the case in the game, however, as the Titans have attacked.
The Titans are strange, aggressive aliens whose arrival has contributed massively to the fact that the town is now overrun with the undead, monsters and droids. To make matters worse, a neutron bomb was detonated over it, likely to try to contain the outbreak, so organised resistance is a no-no.
While there are plenty of opportunities to collect weapons and take down the beasties roaming the streets, limited ammo and vigilant enemies make stealth and diversions a much better method of staying alive. Old kebabs and sandwiches can be launched to kick up a stink and distract an enemy, while dumpsters and wheelie-bins can serve as hiding places when the odds are stacked against you.
The procedurally assembled streets of Basingstoke are littered with ample opportunities to procure more goodies, whether they be weapons, crafting elements or some pocket change for vending machines. As the neutron bomb stopped life in the town — mostly — there are still workers at their desks and most places are unraided. You can find loot in cars, lockers, desks and more.
I was lucky enough to play some of the game while at the PC Gamer Weekender earlier in the year. I managed a couple of good runs, narrowly avoiding death until utterly overwhelmed; each stage I played through was of around ten minutes’ length, but could probably be run through a lot faster by the savvy and daring.
A few lessons were hard-learned, such as the volatility of malfunctioning electrics — which created dead-zones as the dancing watts zapped out like a tesla coil, killing anybody approaching. Similarly, crafting items were not differentiated from useable ones, with craft items like a metal bar easy to confuse for a melee weapon. That said, the developers do have time to add in interface tweaks to remedy it.
Small niggles aside, I had a lot of fun playing through the demo build on show, and I would have certainly spent more time at the stand if I’d not had more games I needed to head along to and cover.
Basingstoke is available now on Steam.