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My Weekend on the Island with ‘The Culling’

Day 1

I arrived at a training facility, sparsely decorated with much but the occasional blood stain on the floor. An unseen announcer introduced me to the location with humorous quips containing vague information about the battle for survival that laid before me. Lit up pathways to numbered doors directed me towards the first of many lessons — teachings I would surely need if I wanted to survive the other contestants undergoing the same training.

Each area taught me enough to feel confident going into the fight tomorrow. I can now fashion a knife out of two stones, and with that I should be able to fashion a spear on the island if I’m lucky enough to find a proper branch out there. Otherwise, I can use my newly learned skills to fashion caltrops and blow guns from branches, even bandages if I find myself in a precarious situation. There’s more, but I’m sure it’ll all come to me tomorrow on the island.

I saw a slew of guns and other high-tech weaponry in the training room; however, I never did learn how to create them. I can only hope the others don’t have access to these, else my primitive bow and arrows may not do the job. Still, I feel good about how I’ll perform on the island tomorrow!

Day 2 – Game 1

This is a nightmare. Fifteen minutes in, I managed to find a solitary cave away from the constant death outside, but I don’t know how much time I have left here. I’ve managed to create a blow gun with a few darts and a snare trap, but now I’m out of FUNC and I need that to craft anything else. I’m too scared to go out to find anymore, so I’ve set up my snare by the front of the cave and am just waiting for whoever’s left out there to wander in — me and my blow gun are ready for them.

Even getting here to this cave was a terrifying journey. Those bastards have a giant screen in the sky with all our names; it updates every time someone gets killed. Last I checked, I’m one of the only five left. They know I’m alive. It’s only a matter of ti—what? What’s this? I just heard the announcer mention someone triggered a button in the middle of the island. I just looked outside the cave and there’s still no evidence of anyone being nearby, but I do see a huge cloud of poison gas in the distance heading straight for me. It must’ve been that damn button. I can’t stay here anymore, I’ve got to get out. This camera in here won’t stop staring at me, so at the least I’ll be glad to get away from its intimidating eyes.

It didn’t take long for one of them to find me. A couple of them died from that poison gas I ran away from; it seems to be closing in on the center and pushing everyone in. I’ve been stabbed by a fellow running from the same plume of gas as I, but I managed to run far enough away to hide in a building. I found a few branches on my way inside, but I can’t seem to find the energy needed to craft them into bandages. Looking out the window, I can see the score screen in the sky. Only three remain. I hear someone running around downstairs.

Oh, it’s the same fellow who stabbed me earlier. It looks like he crafted himself some body armor. And an axe. I don’t know how he’s managed to carry so much on him, I guess he found a way to make an extra satchel. I guess he’s one of the last survivors for a good reason. I can hear him rummaging through the lockers and refrigerators downstairs; it’s only a matter of time before he finds me. I never stood a chance.

Maybe in the next life, things will be better.

Day 3 – Game 2

Things are not better. I decided to try a new tactic to find higher ground and immediately rushed to the first mountain of boulders I saw. I figured the height would lend me an advantage as I would be able to scout the locations of the other 15 contestants on the island, but all it did was make me a target.

I discovered that branches and stones can be loosened from trees and boulders by simply punching them. Armed with this knowledge, I decided to try and craft myself a bow with four or five arrows – I figured I could pick people off from above. The first person I saw proved how poor my aim is, and she came running directly for me. I had some caltrops fashioned from bits of branches laid out around me, but they didn’t slow her down enough. Axes hurt a lot. Four minutes in and I’m nearly dead already.

I ran. I ran far away, praying to whatever god I needed to that I did not encounter another contestant. I found safety by a river, and am currently resting against a rock face. I used the last of my FUNC to craft a bandage from a couple branches; I think it staved the bleeding for now, but I lost my bow in the fight. With no energy left to craft anything else, I can either sit here and wait to be found or go venture in an attempt to find some FUNC so I can craft a weapon. I just looked up across the river. I see human-like movement between the trees. More importantly, however, I see poison gas coming my way.

I spent too long sitting in one place, absorbed by own disorganized thoughts trying to assemble themselves into a plan. Only a minute passed since I found the river, but it feels like a lifetime. I’m already starting to choke up from the incoming fumes. I’m going to try to run, but my health is already deteriorating from the poison.

I can already see my name crossed out on the scoreboard in the sky.

Day 4 – Game 3

Maybe I’m going about this all wrong. I decided to team up with another contestant to better my chances. He’s about 700 meters away from me right now – whoever is running this deadly game was courteous enough to give me a waypoint pointing towards his location. I need to get him.

I found my ally, and he’s already armed with a spear. He stared at me with those bloodthirsty eyes that I’ve seen one too many times, but he turned around and continued foraging for materials. I did the same. Since he went the melee route, I decided I’d try to fashion a blow gun to support him from a distance. They’re pretty easy to make – just a few branches is all you need. After spending what little FUNC we had been given to craft with, we scouted out a building and decided to head for shelter. At least this would give us a base to defend so we won’t get ambushed.

We got jumped. We’re barely seven minutes in and two fellows came at us out of nowhere. My friend kept the one with the hammer at bay, but we were getting shot at by something from somewhere. I managed to hit the guy with the hammer with a poison dart, but just barely before I got hit myself. My vision turned fuzzy and I started hallucinating these weird colors. Needless to say, my already poor aim had just gotten infinitely worse. I watched as my friend’s body fell to the ground, then decided to make a run for it. Whatever I had been shot with impeded my speed, so I did not make it far.

I’m hiding around the side of a set of stairs, hoping that some other contestants will come along to take care of each other for me. Looking up at the sky, I see my friend’s name crossed off in an unfortunate reassurance that he is truly dead. My time left here on the island is short. If you’re reading this, don’t bring a blow gun to a hammer fight.

This game is hard. This game is deadly. This game is royally messed up beyond belief, and each attempt at survival teaches me something new to take into the next life. I’m definitely behind the curve, however, and I’ve a lot to learn before I stand any chance against these other contestants. I’ve seen so many different strategies employed – some worked and won them both their lives and the game. Some do not. But with so many options to work with and even more locations to discover just on this one island, I feel like I can’t see the forest from the trees.

As overwhelming as this sink-or-swim situation I’ve been thrown into is, I can’t seem to shake my excitement to try new tactics and weapons tomorrow. I wish I knew more, at least as much as my killers. The learning curve is steep, but I’ve found motivation to keep playing from the morbidly humorous announcer. He really does make the best out of a grim situation. Tomorrow is a new day. Maybe that’ll be the day I come out alive. You’ve got to play to win, right?

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow. I will live.

This is a preview of an Early Access game. The primary purpose of the test is to stress-test server infrastructure.

 

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Tags : The Culling
Zachery Bennett

The author Zachery Bennett

Zach’s eternal preoccupation with video games became cemented at an early age. His first memorable journey away from reality began with a text-based Football game on a dirty Apple II; he’s chased fantasy ever since. Having took English classes as electives in college, Zach decided to pull the trigger on a merger between the two obsessions.