Camped Out! - A Glamper's Life For Me
Nintendo Switch, PC
The launch of Overcooked in August 2016 from Team17 and Ghost Town Games a new trend began in games, that of the co-operative, chaotic, and time constrained multi-tasking “simulation” game. Since Overcooked’s launch we’ve seen sequels, and numerous games that have derived their inspiration from the title, as such Moving Out, Tools Up, Catastronauts and now, the Aussie developed Camped Out! Camped Out! is the product of the two-man team at INCA Studios, and developers Ian Nowatschenko, and Andrew Caluzzi, and adapts the formula to something that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives – the challenge of setting up a campsite. The typical Overcooked style of experience has often been a tough barrier to entry for some, but just like glamping, Camped Out! is the way to get those less inclined players on board with the type of game that it is.
If you know the Overcooked formula then you will settle into Camped Out! that little big quicker than new faces. The Camped Out! experience is a little more straight forward, and instantly more accessible for new players because the sequence of activities that the player needs to go through in order to complete the level remains the same, no matter whether you’re playing solo or in couch co-op, and no matter the number of players.There are three jobs that need to be completed each level before the sun sets, set up your tent, set up the fireplace and boiling pot, and go fishing for food. Complete each of these three tasks and go to be to complete a level, do so with more than 30 seconds left on the clock to master it and get the three tents for the level. By having a consistent mission structure for each level, it allows the level and scenario design of INCA Studios to shine brightest, and while you may feel trapped in these woodland levels at first, the game’s 20 levels are actually littered with several different types of environments, each with their own hazards or obstacles that you must navigate in order to be inside your tent before dusk falls. With sand soaked and ice-covered terrains to change the conditions, the game does plenty to change things up on the player.
The game scales nicely for 2-4 players, and is balanced well for those player counts, however it’s for those who choose to play solo where the game can sometimes feel as though you’re bashing your head on a wall. As well as having heights, water, and numerous other hazards can eat away at your ability to get from point A to B, there are also painful woodland creatures whose sole purpose is to undo all of your good work, and it is these pests that make the solo play so infuriating at times. While bears roam the world and want to take a bite out of you if given the chance, they’re not the primary concern, rather the smaller animals, the squirrels, which will likely drive you mad.
When playing solo you’ll be trying to think ahead, “I need 3 units of wood for this, and 2 for that, 2 units of rock for this, and 4 for that”, and naturally the conclusion for most will be to collect the maximum required and throw them over to where you need them. Unforuntatley, you’re seemingly punished for this proactive thinking because while you’re busy harvesting what you need to get the job done, and lobbing them over the creek that blocks your path so that you can run around and collect them, it’s these painful squirrels who decide to grab them and run away with them. Naturally, they choose to do this the moment you’ve just made a point-of-no-return jump to the otherside of the map, and suddenly you’re without all that you need to get the job done, then necessitating another run to the other side of the map to finish the job. These delays, through no fault of your own, can be the difference between success or failure. Playing together with friends is certainly the optimal way to go, and once you do, the game becomes instantly more accessible to players of all levels of experience. Brilliantly, that’s not all that the game does to embrace new or inexperienced players. Camped Out! features both a normal, and a casual difficulty mode, which for those playing alone might make the game more tenable.
One other more significant gripe relates to the unpacking of the camping bag, and the way items are strewn afterward. One of the great delays to your objective completion comes from unpacking your gear because the collision isn’t as tight as it needs to be. You’ll be often picking up the wrong item, or bumping into everything else because before the invisible cursor lands on the thing you want. Alternatively, you could throw items out of the way, but this will only make your life harder later on as you have to chase down the tools you need for the next job that you’d previously thrown away. There is also an issue with the game’s dash functionality which can’t be strung together without an extremely jarring microsecond of inability to dash in the middle, something that could have been abandoned in favour of continual sprinting, or at least drop the microsecond delay entirely.
Easing the stress is Camped Out!’s endearing soundtrack, it’s quirky cast of characters, Covington, Rascal, Quintana, and Saffron, and the character and world design that pops off the the screen. The soundtrack in particular is the real winner, never dominating the experience, but still establishing the tone when required, especially when the urgency of the final minute kicks in.
Much like Overcooked and Moving Out’s first entries, Camped Out! lacks online, but the first entry lacking online functionality has allowed both of those titles to shine brightest before expanding significantly with the sequel. The foundations of Camped Out! are so solid that the potential for this kind of online play should help expand the franchise’s reach in the future. Camped Out! isn’t a long, nor is it balanced perfectly, but it’s a great starting point that should be on the radar of anyone who has not yet explored, or adored the experiences stemming from this genre previously – this one is for you.
Camped Out! was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a code kindly provided by the developer.