Finally there's Areal prototype game footage

But is it too little too late?

There are six days of the Kickstarter to go and - finally - we're shown gameplay footage of Areal.

This is the under-scrutiny S.T.A.L.K.E.R. spiritual successor being made in the under-more-intense scrutiny Ukraine.

The footage shows a player-character exploring an anomaly zone - 'there be weird stuff here' - at night. There's a bit of shooting but no apparent reaction from the heat-signature being shot at - an animal of some kind.

There are other animals glimpsed but they run off and there's no meaningful interaction with them. It ends with the player dying because of exposure to the poisonous anomaly.

The video was apparently made in two weeks, and it's the briefest glimpse at a project that still has many people unconvinced. Nowhere is the criticism more fierce than in the comments section of the Areal Kickstarter campaign itself.

There are accusations that the prototype gameplay demo was made in Unity, not the proprietary engine West-Games has said Areal will use. Moreover, some people suspect the environment was made from an off-the-shelf Unity environment pack.

Those with a critical eye wonder why more wasn't built in two weeks to show.

West-Games appears to have deserted the comments section, for better or worse, leaving most of the naysayers unchecked. And there are yet more accusations that commenters, who appear to be random, are West-Games employees either zealously defending the campaign or spamming text to push negative comments down.

Since I last reported on Areal, West-Games also held a Reddit Ask Me Anything, supplying a few answers of note.

One question concerned the lack of footage and tangible evidence of the engine - apparently home made - that Areal is being built on:

"No game development studio would show off a new in-development proprietary engine in a pre-alpha state (Vostok games, having a new proprietary engine, being a good example of that)," answered West-Games.

"The reason you get to see footage from some games in an early state is because they are using either a licensed engine or an in-house engine that has already been in use via previous games (think COD or Uncharted). Another good example is EA, because they have the fully made frostbite engine, which greatly speeds up development and allows for early footage."

Another question concerned the ambitious release schedule:

"Areal is scheduled for 2016," clarified West-Games. "Next year, people who backed our Kickstarter will receive the game in Early Access form, which will be just as beautiful as the final product and include all the key features. We'll include a day-one patch on release day for everyone who received the Early Access version."

The final question that caught my eye concerned Leonid Kovtun, the mysterious person to whom Areal Kickstarter pledges are going. "How can we be sure that Mr Leo is trustworthy and that he won't disappear with the KS money?" someone asked.

"Because I, Eugene Kim, the founder of West-Games, manage and have access to all Areal accounts including the Amazon account on our Kickstarter that is responsible for all pledges," answered Kim. "We are partners who trust each other."

In the background, Areal funding has stalled at around the $37,000 mark - the goal is $50,000.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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