Every year at PAX West there are one or two surprises when we sit down for our appointments with loads of independent developers. This year was no different, and Osiris: New Dawn is an amazing example of what two guys with patience and a load of talent and imagination can do. A brand new sci-fi adventure sandbox with MMO trappings, it’s definitely one to watch as it nears Early Access this month.
Osiris: New Dawn takes place 50 years into our future, and as Fenix Fire’s own Brian McRae shared with us when we sat down at the demo kiosk there are two different factions to choose from at the outset: the UNE (United Nations of Earth) and the Outlanders. The former is more government-sanctioned and organized while the latter is kind of like a band of Space Pirates who want nothing to do with the rules and regulations of the UNE. You’ll choose some basic color variations of your space suit, with actual facial options and male/female differentiators to come later – the team is after all just three people. Brian’s the Founder, CEO, and Creative Lead. His wife Anna is the CFO and Art Lead, and Manny Flores is the programmer making all the pieces fit together.
As the player, in single player mode (the draw for many of you will be the MMO-like multiplayer which supports several dozen players per planet and is persistent in nature – think ARK), you can change a lot about the world before going in – alien density, XP modifiers, etc. We only had a demo of the single player, as the MP and its servers were not quite ready for the intensity of the show floor, but what we played was more than impressive enough to get our attention. There are four classes to choose from, but more on those will come later. Brian told me that they’d each have strengths, but they’d all four be able to do everything in the game. Just one might be better at combat, one might be better at building, etc.
After crash landing on an unknown planet, you must survive and build a place to live, while fending off alien species that are none too happy about your arrival. Osiris is a survival game, but you won’t spend your first hours punching trees or collecting berries. You’ve got tools to start with, and even when you die though you’ll leave behind your loot (to be collected by you or the enemy faction) you’ll start again with the tools needed to start harvesting.
As a survival game, you will need to eat and drink, but the game first guides you to making a habitable structure to survive in. This is an alien planet after all (technically a moon of Theseus Prime called Proteus II), so you can’t very well just open your helmet and breathe in the fresh air while you eat a pineapple. You’ve first got to make yourself a place to safely inhale and remove your helm to eat or drink. Luckily, this also means that food and thirst levels aren’t insanely fast to drop. It’ll take three days of in-game time to starve to death, and many more to die of thirst. Ergo, you’ve got plenty of time to build that structure and get to farming. If you’re doing this in multiplayer, it’ll likely be even easier as the two factions start off on opposing planets and can’t immediately get to one another to make life worse.
The game’s visuals, it must be stated, are pretty gorgeous. We only saw the one planet, a sort of Mars-like world with broken rock-croppings (some of which are intentionally altered by gravity and floating a bit off the ground), but also plenty of alien flora. What’s more is that the aliens on Proteus II were menacing and unique. We only saw three, but it’s enough to have us confident that survival will be about more than just eating and drinking and fending off the other faction. There are large Starship Trooper-like arachnid creatures, fast-moving ground-burrowing trilobite bugs, and deep in a crater? A massive tower-sized sandworm that scared the crap out of us when it burst through the crust of the planet and flew itself over our head before disappearing back into the ground.
Gun-play is straightforward but accurate and well-done. It’s worth noting that Osiris can be played in first or third person, and that unlike its forebears in the genre Fenix Fire’s third person view has fantastic animations and rigging on the player characters. They move differently depending on their weapon, they jump with the flow of gravity and land deftly but not stilted on the ground. There’s weight to the characters – they don’t just float around on the surface like in so many games.
Overall, I came away really impressed by Osiris: New Dawn. The very fact that such a small team was able to bring the game this far (even if it took years) is astounding. You’ll build airlocks, beds (the only way to save the game and your character state, so always log out after laying down), gardens, greenhouses, storage containers, AI-controlled helper robots, giant six-wheeled rovers, airbikes with guns, and more. I only scratched the surface of what’s possible in Osiris: New Dawn, and it already feels like Fenix Fire have a hit on their hands. I very much look forward to finding a good server to play on, building a settlement with friends, fending off alien-life, and taking the fight to the UNE. Outlanders forever, people.