They must have had a mantracker device because they had followed me down into the tunnels beneath the prison’s central arena. This was one sick and twisted gameshow where “contestants” were thrown together in a large arena and forced to fight to the death in sixteen person duels, either solo or in teams of two.
And death had come—my partner and I had encountered another two-person team and he’d caught the worst of it. From there, I thought I had lost the attackers when I’d triggered one of the many gas canisters littered throughout the arena. But they must have found a way around the cloud of noxious fumes.
I located a side chamber in the tunnel, complete with lockers, and commenced to rifle through them. I was looking for anything that may be of use in fending off, or if lucky, destroying my pursuers. Stims, weapons, traps—anything I could get my hands on would help me in my desperate bid for survival. Finally, I located a medi-kit as well as a katana. Lucky me, indeed!
As I applied the medi-kit to myself, healing the wounds that I’d accrued in my little tussle, I could hear footsteps coming down the tunnel. I unsheathed my newfound katana and lay in wait, like a panther coiled and ready to spring. Suddenly, I heard my pursuers’ mantracker chirping. They surely had my exact coordinates locked from there, indicated on the device’s handy little radar screen, so instead of hiding I went on the offensive.
As my opponents approached the nearby archway, I rushed out and attacked the first one head-on. He obviously hadn’t anticipated that because he had his composite bow out—the very same one he used to kill my partner. He must have still been wounded because in the matter of a few slashes from my katana, he issued forth a blood-curdling scream and went down in a geyser of crimson.
His compatriot was a little more prepared and was wielding a heavy wrench. We dueled each other in the musty tunnel, our clanking weapons echoing throughout its drab environs. We blocked each other’s blows while deftly sliding in a quick cut or blow here and there. Finally, I shoved my opponent, sending him reeling back, and chose that opportunity to withdraw.
I ran to the end of the tunnel, and my assailant followed. Then I heard a snapping sound and turned to see him enveloped in a snare trap, which my now deceased partner had set up earlier for an earlier ambush. I’d led my attacker straight into it. All he could do was watch me as I approached him and commenced to slice and dice him like a Ginsu knife through butter. Victory was mine!
The above was my first match since returning to The Culling after a long self-imposed hiatus from the game. You see, The Culling debuted back in 2016 as the first ever dedicated battle royale gaming experience, as opposed to a mere tacked-on mode featured in other survival games. It was an instant indie hit, not necessarily because of that fact, but because it was so unique.
You see, what made The Culling stand out from anything before it, was that it had both an emphasis on melee combat, and also featured an arena (it only debuted with a single map) that encouraged close quarters encounters (and ambushes). Each match essentially boiled down to sixteen competitors starting off a match with nothing but the clothes on their back. From there, they could both craft weapons and items, and scavenge them from any crates and lockers that they came across.
The game could either be experienced solo or in pairs, and the last person or team standing won. What was so entertaining about The Culling experience, however, was that not only did you have a snarky and condescending gameshow announcer chiming in every time something of import happened, but also the sheer amount of ways in which you could dispatch fellow contestants. Should you go all long-ranged weapons and attempt to take the high ground, or tank-up and go with melee weapons? Or, perhaps you could outfit yourself with traps and lie in wait for unsuspecting foes. The options were literally limited only by the deviousness of a player’s mind.
Gamers also loved the rock-paper-scissors elements of The Culling’s combat system. If someone was attacking you, you could always block. However, blocks could be broken with shoves. Timed correctly, if someone tried to initiate a shove and you attacked, it was bad news for them.
Unfortunately, the developers began straying away from these elements and dumbing down the game with a slew of bizarre updates. People became very irate with these developments and—long story short—The Culling faded from pretty much everyone’s radar.
Lo-and-behold, almost a year after it debuted, and the The Culling’s sneaky developers surprised everyone—myself included—by releasing a massive update called The Big House. This whopper of an update comes with a new prison map called Cul County Correctional, a labyrinth of concreate walkways, buildings, and parking lots, perfect for either long-range engagements or up-close and personal encounters. It also has a new Lighting Round mode which handles more compact affairs and featuring eight players instead of the usual sixteen.
Other new attractions are the several fun new map events, seven new weapons and traps, a slew of new outfits and weapon skins, new taunts and victory dances, and a brand new XP and leveling system (finally!). Needless to say, The Culling has been resurrected, and looking at its Steam store page, gamers are falling in love with it all over again (awww). Oh, and it didn’t hurt that the developers keenly overhauled the game’s combat system, bringing it back to essentially how it was before when it first debuted.
I’m literally about to go and play it more right after I finish writing this review, that’s how good it is. So if you’re a fan of fun, fast-paced, gladiator-style combat games, The Culling could be just right for you too—try it out. Just be aware that this game is not for the squeamish, there are literally buckets of blood to be seen just everywhere.