By now, you’ve probably heard of Scum – a new survival sim that goes as far as giving the player the abilities to pee, poop, and puke on command. Having spent hours staring at my character’s stats and struggling to decipher all the cryptic numbers that denoted his nutrition levels, I can safely say that Scum is, for better or worse, every bit as weird and overly complex as you may think.
For those who don’t know, you play as a death row inmate in Scum, one of many who are dropped onto an island and forced to participate in a twisted game show. Your goal is simple: survive by any means necessary. You’ll scavenge for loot, craft gear, hunt wild animals for food, and fight off zombies, bipedal mechs, and other players. But on top of all that, you must simultaneously contend with your worst enemy – your own body.
A Min-Maxer’s Dream Come True
Scum takes survival very seriously, so much so that it features an entire tab dedicating to tracking every stat imaginable of your character’s body. This includes everything from heart rate, vitamin and mineral levels, and eating speed, to the more absurd like teeth count and bladder volume. With these many systems in play, there’s plenty of room for things to go awry. For example, staying wet for too long lowers body temperature, possibly leading to hypothermia. Eating an imbalanced diet may cause a vitamin deficiency. If you eat too little in general, then your energy meter will start to drop. Eat too much, however, and you’ll vomit uncontrollably. Thankfully, gaining an ailment or two doesn’t spell instant death. Instead, your character’s overall performance will take a hit until you recover.
Similarly, even body type has a huge role to play. There are plenty of customization options during character creation, with body type being arguably the most important one as it is not merely cosmetic — it actually impacts what attributes you specialize in. Being muscular gives you bonus strength and constitution points, while thin gives dexterity, and fat gives intelligence. The level of attributes determines how much skill points you have to spend on their respective skills. So if you want to focus on combat and be proficient with guns and melee weapons, having a muscular body type will better fit the bill. But if you prefer to hone basic survival abilities like cooking and camouflaging, then you best go with more fat.
As you can imagine, the act of managing and balancing these bodily systems is practically a metagame in itself. I’ve spent a lot of studying my character’s metabolism page, and even now I can’t tell you what on earth “muscle range” means or what actual effects “storage fat” has on gameplay. All these mechanics are further complicated by Scum’s heavy leaning toward realism. Your character’s body works like a real human body. Wounds don’t heal immediately with the use of a bandage. Body mass shifts depending on caloric intake. Food and drinks take time to digest. For god’s sake, there are three different volume meters for your digestive tract alone: stomach, intestine, and colon. It is both humourous and admirable to see how far the developers have gone in simulating the workings of human biology.
This level of detail may not be up everyone’s alley, but it certainly goes a long way in differentiating Scum from other survival simulators currently available. I’ve only discussed only one aspect of Scum — there are still many other layers to explore, like PvP combat or the in-depth crafting system. Since it is in Early Access, you can rest assured there are even more gameplay features to come in the future. It remains to be seen how much longevity such a complex, realistic take on multiplayer survival packs, but so far, Scum seems to have found a distinct niche for itself in the market.
**PC key provided by the publisher**