Nether is an open-world post-apocalyptic survival-horror game set among the ruins of a huge city. It’s pretty clear the developers sought to capitalise on the success of DayZ, and I can’t fault fault them on that.
Similar to DayZ, Nether is server-based, with each server occupied by up to 64 players. It's best to select a server with a population based on the type of experience you are after. Don’t assume that a server full of strangers is going to gain you a load of new friends to co-op with, as the opposite is likely to be the case.
The game is set in a vast and very detailed post-apocalyptic city, not all of which is available to players at the moment.
Grass pushes through long-abandoned roads whilst cars look on, rusting away.
Scattered about the city are a number of safe zones with traders and courier mission opportunities.
My first foray into the world of Nether was punctuated by a confrontation with a guy who literally had a bigger gun than mine.
The result was an almost comedic run around an old car as this maniac swung his dirty great machete at me. The altercation came to swift end when he pulled out a gun and shot me where I stood.
As tends to be the case in these open-world free-for-alls, it’s not the AI monsters that you need to worry about - it’s the other players.
The world of Nether looks good. It’s not perfect, but it’s clear the developers have spent a lot of time creating a believable looking post-apocalyptic city. There’s an amazing amount of detail and it really does feel like you are lost in a decaying concrete jungle.
Elevated highways are packed with hundreds of abandoned cars. Train stations with buckled rails leading to upturned train carriages tell a story of some sudden cataclysm. It’s difficult not to be impressed with it all.
In order to survive you are going to need to scavenge for stuff. You need water, food, ammo and things to craft into useful items. Thankfully, our city's occupants left in a hurry, so there’s plenty of stuff laying around.
Anyone hoping to enjoy some post-apocalyptic narrative in the game is going to be disappointed. Like DayZ before it, the only story in Nether is your own, the one you write in your head as you explore and experience the game world.
The titular Nethers are the teleporting mutants that roam the city. They come in a few shapes and sizes and it’s best to sneak by them. They can be killed with melee weapons or bullets, however gunshots may alert others.
As much as I enjoyed the setting and really wanted to enjoy myself, the bugs wouldn't let me. Waypoints didn't always point to the right location and when returning to the game my character was often a considerable distance from where I left him - odd for what is supposed to be a persistent game.
Despite a few technical issues, the atmosphere and the horror is there. There’s a genuine sense of adventure as you search long-abandoned camps atop decaying skyscrapers. There’s the fear as you realise you are standing near a Nether and that 'did it see me?' moment as you try to sneak away. There’s the sense of futility as you realise you are not getting away with your life this time.
While I think Nether still needs a bit of work, it has the potential for greatness. Players looking for something like DayZ should definitely check out it out.
Nether is available now on PC via Steam.