| Played on a CLX Gaming PC |
Samar Studios’ inaugural release, “The Front,” sets out to carve its niche in the survival-crafting-shooter genre, but it’s not without its growing pains. As I delved into this gritty world, I encountered both moments of exhilaration and pockets of frustration. Here’s a detailed look at the game’s strengths and areas that could use a little extra attention.
Punishing Starting Point
The Front’s dystopic setting is rich with potential, mixing inspiration from what seems like Killzone and Lost — a combination I’m all for. I still don’t know the reason behind this setting however, as you are thrown into the mix the second you join a server, much like every other SOC game. There’s wild life sparsly scattered about with some desolate buildings mixed with totalitarian structures. Slaves are forced to labor alongside arm outpost ready to kill you at any given moment. There’s some fine tuning that are needed, but once it’s fleshed out I think Samar Studio’s has something special here.
From the get-go, The Front wastes no time in making its presence felt. The relentless demands of food and thirst add a layer of urgency to every move. At lower levels, replenishing these vital resources is a race against time, making for a gripping and immersive experience. While traversing this unforgiving landscape, I found myself yearning for more freedom of movement. The absence of vaulting over ledges and obstacles can be confining. This is coupled with a deliberate tuning to your sprint speed — it’s a gradual start up, which fits the genre, but it throws me off because when I see a MG38 on screen I assume I can slide cancel my way through firefights. Yes, there’s a ton of weapons to find and craft — talking modern ones. Same with tanks and helicopters, it’s actually sort of wild. There’s great potential for enormous Battlefield-scaled PVP fights coupled with build crafting here, but that’s held back by its overall jankiness in all department — what I mean is, bullet spread, even at high Talent levels, feels too far out especially when strafing. With its slow nature, I can see a lot of deaths happening from happy campers.
Cook, Shoot, Build
Doesn’t help that AI in The Front exhibit a strange blend of accurate shooting, immense health pool and overall unresponsive movement. One moment they’re beaming me with no chance to lower their health bar, the next their behavior can be comically predictable — which couples with them attacking relentlessly upon detection. It’s a juxtaposition that could benefit from a more balanced approach. I talked about movement, but i need to preffice this, it feels sluggish when it should matter. While it adds a layer of realism, it also occasionally hinders the flow of gameplay, this needs major tuning overall.
The scarcity of resources makes exploring feel less rewarding, as obvious loot containers dominate the landscape, adorned with telltale blue or yellow stripes. It helps with expediting crafting and survivability but dampense the sense of wonder. Crafting structures should be a cornerstone of any survival game, but The Front stumbles a bit here. The rotating mechanic feels counterintuitive because even though there’s a key function for that, the objects dont actually rotate — it flips, often resulting in my building being incomplete. The visual presentation of leaves a mixed impression. Built in Unreal Engine, you would think that the developers would harness its bells and whistles, it doesn’t. While the map’s scope and scene variety are commendable, closer inspection reveals a lack of fidelity. Indoor environments suffer from flat lighting and shadows, and even on a high-end system, like my RTX4090 CLX Gaming PC, performance stutters, and hovers in the 60-80fps range at 4K resolution.
The Limited Structure
Of course item management and sorting is key in this genre – it’s overall pretty straightforward with decent information to follow. There’s durability, crafting, repair, etc. You have additional information regarding your character level and stats and the ability to add mods to armor for further survivability. Talents play a huge part in your build crafting, and at this stage, the only requirement needed is to hit said levels, and you can unlock corresponding Talents at once. That means, if there’s 5 tiers on a Talent you like that starts at lv30, to get the next you just have to be at lv35, then lv45, ect. Same goes for unlocking crafting Blueprints. There’s some to find in the world, but the majority is through Talents — but the higher end ones would require Ether Shards, a currency found upon killing NPCs or scavenging. The absence of keymapping options left me feeling handcuffed to default controls however and I have no doubt an option for that will come at a later date.
REVIEW SCORE 7.5/10
In its current state, The Front is a commendable first step for Samar Studios, but it’s clear that there’s room for growth. With attention to player feedback and dedication to refining its unique blend of survival, crafting, and shooting elements, this title has the potential to leave a lasting mark in the gaming landscape. Keep an eye on this one—it might just surprise you. The Front is available through early Access October 11th on Steam.