Survival games are ten a penny these days. Developer Tin Can Studio and publisher Klabater have a game that is unmistakeably a survival game through and through, but it does something different with it. Perhaps something that makes it stand out from the crowd.
You’ve barely managed to escape your exploding spaceship. Now in an old escape pod, you hurtle through space at the mercy of the cosmos. With no knowledge of the pod’s complex systems, your life depends on a technical manual and your own wits. How long can you survive?
The set-up for this one is that the spaceship that you are on explodes and you escape in a, well an escape pod. That’s it, nothing more. Now, Tin Can was released on PC quite a while back. It has more recently seen a release on PlayStation on Xbox and I’ve been playing the Xbox version for this review.
The thing that separates Tin Can from other survival games is that it is set pretty much 100% inside the escape pod. No sprawling open world and no NPCs to interact with. It is just you and a very small escape pod. However, the escape pod is crammed with equipment that needs maintenance and certain events can cause all sorts of damage that will need repair.
This is the survival element of the game, it is you vs technology that has a penchant for breaking. Numerous events outside of the pod can and will make a massive difference to what happens inside the pod. Going too close to a huge star will raise the temperature and cook you alive, so you need to keep the pod cold. Asteroids can put holes in the pod that’ll need repairing. Electrical storms will fry your equipment and more. That equipment is vital to keeping you alive too, and there’s a ton of it to maintain.
Keep those oxygen and CO2 tanks filled up, swap out damaged parts, repair and maintain your equipment to stay alive. Tin Can includes ‘real medical symptoms’ instead of health bars. For instance, you need to keep the oxygen levels just right or you might die of hypoxemia (lack of oxygen).
£17 is how much Tin Can will set you back. It is a refreshing take on the survival genre and offers up quite a tough challenge. There is no story to play through, but you do get a good selection of different play modes. Set scenarios that will test your skills for specific events. A sandbox mode that just lets you float through space endlessly and more. I did find the controls very fiddly playing on the Xbox, which really does not help when you are trying to target specific components to repair. You have to hold down both shoulder buttons to run, which is just awkward. Plus, turning felt very sluggish. I did watch some videos on YouTube of people playing the PC version and that looked so much better.
Still, Tin Can is very familiar but also just different enough to hold your attention. This isn’t a game that you’ll have long sessions on and it works better in multiple short bursts. There’s some good replay value to keep you coming back for more.