Hyped Pixel Reviewer and bad writer, came across this project due to passion for hardware and software in general, I've been an enthusiast since the year 2000 wondering where we go next.
TOXICANT is a new indie game that is being developed and getting support as time goes by. It was developed and published by Cosmocat on Steam. At the moment it’s in early access and it’s an action-adventure survival game. Keep in mind what I’m about to tell you is subject to change. Since it’s an early access game, the final product can be different. I played the game on the latest build at the time, build 47.
The game is set inside a mine where something went wrong, the story is still being developed and the game hasn’t got a finale yet. You can find clues to the story in old miners’ notes spread through the levels.
The levels are randomly generated which is pretty cool, no level feels like the last one you died on or have escaped from, you technically have a mini-map but it does not show you the layout of the level unless you find a map that will give you the layout of the level. These things combined can give you the impression of being lost in the mine cave creating a good game atmosphere.
Speaking of atmosphere, the game’s sound is pretty good at building tension, many random loud sounds can be heard and sometimes can actually stop you from hearing enemies in a room and get you by surprise. You’re almost never going to have a moment of silence in this game, which would actually be an impactful and tense moment when you are hours into the game and suddenly the silence creates a tense and nervous moment. Maybe in a future update?
So what does this game have that stands out from the rest of Survival Horror games? RPG mechanics and weapons. You have several gadgets and weapons that you can use, like a board and a board with nails that can do different things like making a path from a room to another. You can see if the wall has cracks on it, hit it and it will unlock a new path that you can’t use, or a shortcut. there are more weapons like pickaxes and fists and more weapons will be coming in future updates, but for now those were the ones I found.
You have also gadgets, namely the beacon launcher that opens up a whole new type of play for you to use, it can do several things like fire a beacon that can tell you, in resemblance to a sonar, how many enemies are in that room, freeze enemies, decoy enemies to a position, and even explode, but to do this you’ll need to find ammo. However, this ammo is scattered through the map and are random. Sometimes you happen to be on a specific and there’s no ammo available anywhere for your beacon launcher, so you have to manage it carefully.
As for RPG mechanics, you have upgrades, not only for your gadgets but you can also upgrade your stats. These are few, but they do many different things. You can upgrade Stealth and that can make you invisible to enemies, Strength can make your melee attacks more powerful or carry heavier weapons and you can upgrade Stamina and raise your Stamina meter. On the subject of stamina, you have a stamina bar that depletes as you run or attack enemies. It’s replenished over time, so keep this in mind when you want to be more aggressive or passive.
You also have the Discovery Log, which gives you some background on the stuff you find, for example, medical tablets will have information on where they came from and what they do, this also works kind of like collectibles.
This game also makes use of a Sanity Meter. Sometimes when you are low on health or near one enemy, your screen will start to change color and you’ll start to hear heavy breathing due to the stress your character is in at the moment, which a nice small touch.
There are debuffs in this game that can hit you in different ways, like less stamina or strength. The sanity meter rising can give you some, as well as items you find, like food or mushrooms, can give you more strength or stamina with the trade-off HP or another debuff. Another good detail, as it can give you access to different strategies later down the line.
Enemies are your typical horror stuff like zombies, spiders, ghosts, skulls, and some interesting ones like octopus tentacles and fish. All of them have a quirk associated with them, for example, tentacles do damage to you on a specific area but cannot chase you, ghosts run from you if you use the flashlight on them and each zombie type reacts to you differently, but I wish there was more variety of monsters to spice up the game.
Exploring and level design it’s still in a basic form for now. You have a hole in the ceiling in one room that you need to escape from, so you need to find a rope hidden in one of the caves. Sometimes the game has small puzzles to hide the rope, like a flooded room that you need to drain the water in order to get the rope, but mostly it’s a repeated process to find the hole get the rope, nothing very different.
The levels themselves feel a bit small sometimes. I tried exploring some of them to find gadgets and some lore stuff, but mostly found only two things on each level or nothing useful and then moved onto the next level. It becomes a bit repetitive until you start finding new beacons or enemies to make gameplay feel a bit different.
The looks of the game are a bit raw, with enemies being a bit high res compared to the environment, but this might be an artistic choice. The map has some objects here and there to make it full, but most are just repeated assets like barrels and chains. I think glowing mushrooms to add some atmosphere are a good idea for this game, but there are just a few and very spread apart. Dead bodies and skeletons and even body parts are spread across the map and it’s cool. In some rooms, I found myself being amazed and intrigued to know what happened there, maybe one day in a future update.
Overall, as an indie game, it’s good, it’s in early access and I can see the developer effort put on it, with constant update drops, developer journal, live Q&A and even road maps dropped.
For some of you that can’t deal with the looks and the unfinished feel of the game, I advise you to wait but mark this one out, because it’s getting better and better. If you just like this genre of game you will want to check this one out and maybe even help the developer to improve it and get involved in his project. He is looking for opinions on it as we speak and I can’t wait for more stuff to come out.