It’s November, which means it’s getting pretty dark pretty early. So what else is there to do but play survival horror games in the dark, on your own? No? Just me then. This week I checked out Indie survival horror/adventure Rust and Blood.
After being diagnosed with terminal cancer the protagonist sticks two fingers up to the man and refuses to accept his impending death. Instead you exhaust all forms of medical research, alternative medicine, homeopathy, black magic and its friendly cousin white magic until faced with no other options, you engage in an ancient Byzantium ritual to discover the tree of life within the Garden of Eden. As you do.
After performing the ritual with your friendly neighbourhood priest you wake up in a rather unusual location that looks more like Silent Hill’s Otherworld than an earthly paradise created by an omnibenevolent deity. But with seemingly no way out, you have no choice but to accept your new home and figure out how in hell (literally) you’re going to survive.
The gameplay is very simple. You move around with the directional keys and use x to access your inventory. Time is measured in days and you have to return to your makeshift safe house before 21:00 every day before the monsters come. On top of this you have a hunger meter which fills as you move around. If you let it fill completely it’s game over, so you have to make sure you have enough food supplies to stave off the hunger. Because your time is so limited the game requires you to think on your feet in the most immediate way possible in order to maximise your exploration. As a result there are no wasted moments. You make a plan, you bomb your way through it and you run as fast as you can back to your safe house before the monsters get you. But this doesn’t stop you looking over your shoulder all the time, every time you hear a bang or unrelated sound effect you prepare for the worst.
Back in your safe house you can set up your survival gear and cook meals. In order to cook a meal you need to have found not only the ingredients but also the recipe, showing it to be survival horror in the strictest sense. If you want to explore you have to eat, if you want to eat you have to explore for food and hope that somewhere along the way you find a way either to the tree of life or back home.
Visually, the game is very obviously inspired by Silent Hill. As you would expect from the title; Rust and Blood, the setting is a world of bloody, rusty gratings with an atmospheric soundtrack to match. I found the experience a lot more immersive wearing headphones and there were a few moments that made me jump, more out of drawing me in than making a loud noise when I least expected it. There were a few difficult sections to negotiate, but on the whole the game only takes an hour.
Rust and Blood is free to download via GameJolt.