A dark, frightening sense of loneliness. Creepy little alien bugs. A rather unusual, but stimulating, lack of control. These were the elements that stuck in my mind after my first playthrough of the current Salvaged build. I’ve just started working at Opposable Games, and while I could see a lot of folks around the office creating awesome things for the game, I had to have a go.
That lack of control is something I want to focus on, because I found it to be the most fascinating element of the game so far. While most titles try everything to encourage player agency, Salvaged is much more refined, and pleasantly willing to take the reins away from the player. Sure, laying out orders to your troops using the node system is a crucial part of the gameplay experience, but seeing those plans unfold invokes a rather different and unique feeling.
It’s the feeling of maternal/paternal care; you’re sending these soldiers into the abyss, so it’s your responsibility that they get out alive. Anyone who’s played any of the XCOM games will know that feeling, but Salvaged is wonderfully unique purely because once you hit ‘breach’, you can only hope that your troops survive the encounter. Your tactics matter just as much as they do in the aforementioned Firaxis title, but you’re a commander this time, not some existential being. To me, that’s hugely exciting.
There’s a thrill to losing control; it’s the same reason we (or some of us, at least) love roller coasters, or horror films, or… football, even. Sacrificing agency and allowing yourself to experience events as an observer can be just as exciting, perhaps even more so, than enjoying them first-hand. Watching my trusty troopers perform my own deviously plotted plans was simply fantastic, but the fact that I was observing rather than directly controlling made it so much more tense, and so much more thrilling.
Another element of the current build that I loved, as something of an extension of that hands-off system, was the true ‘be a commander’ presentation. The operations room, with its multiple glowing screens and industrial feel, is a wonderful hub for a game like Salvaged. It really helps to develop that sense of command, a feeling that AI assistant Thaddeus only furthers with his silky, but ever-so-slightly haunting, tones.
I only played Salvaged for around half an hour, but the potential is clear to see. For those who’ve long wished to partake in the action movie motif that is a solo commander instructing and observing a team of crack troopers, this is going to be a must-have. It’s unique in its combination of deep strategy, yet hands-off combat. I’m excited to show you more and more of the development process of Salvaged over the coming months.