The videogame market is saturated with open world survival games, to the point where it’s hard to make a new title that is different and unique from the rest. UAYEB does nothing new. In the ten hours that I managed to plod through, the only word that I could come up with to describe UAYEB is “painful”. Let me explain why.
UAYEB is a first-person open world adventure game with survival elements and a few puzzles thrown in. Developed by one man, Francis Courchinoux. It took Courchinoux three years to make UAYEB, which with its 16km2 open area, is a pretty impressive feat.
You play as Uayeb. A man who has been frozen in a cryogenic chamber, and awoken in the year 2119. A friendly scientist studying the Mayan civilisation wakes Uayeb up and tells him that the world's economy collapsed, causing civilians to rise up against the politicians. This uprising ended up destroying humanity as we know it. Uayeb was frozen just before the world ended and is now tasked with finding out who he is and what happened to the world.
Objectives are given to you via email from an old laptop. The scientist, named Joanna, asks you to meet her in a city in the middle of a desert. First, you need to find a few items scattered around the house, gather up some supplies for the journey, and create a lockpick to exit the grounds of the house. This is where the crafting and survival elements come into play. Both are incredibly tedious and tiresome. Keeping hunger at bay means finding tinned food, opening up the games menu system, finding the food again, and finally eating it. It’s a laborious process. There is no variation in types of food (that I found anyway). Dehydration occurs rapidly. I was forever running back to a tap to drink from and to fill up bottles, which slowed down the pace of the gameplay. Gathering resources to craft some lockpicks takes forever. To create three pairs of lockpicks, it takes 30 pieces of Carbon and ten pieces of Iron. Finding the nodes to mine from is relatively straightforward. From each one, you can expect roughly around three pieces of each, but in the area you are locked in there is only a finite amount, and you have to wait until it respawns.
After finally escaping the house, you are let loose into the big wide world. Guess what it’s full of? Nothing. Nothing but sand dunes, a couple of palm trees and some shrubs. It’s dreary, huge and it’s barren. There is also no map available to you at the beginning (when you do get one it’s useless) so if like me, you start out going in the wrong direction, chances are you’re going to get lost and endlessly wander around doing nothing. There is a car in the game to navigate the space a bit quicker, but it takes you forever to get the components to craft it. Until then, you have to rely on Uayeb’s feet to sprint across the desert. Unfortunately Uayeb has a pitiful amount of stamina, and can only run a couple of meters before he physically stops in his tracks which was insanely frustrating.
UAYEB would have benefitted from a progression or skill tree system. It might actually feel as if you are doing something instead of aimlessly wandering around a drab, uninteresting desert harvesting materials.
There are a few enemies randomly dotted around, although the ones that I saw were all the same character model. Some weird zombie, robot hybrid that is about as good as a Stormtrooper from Star Wars at shooting. Not once did one of them put up a fight. The AI is pretty much non-existent. You can sprint up behind them, and they won't hear you.
There was one inventive puzzle in the few that I discovered while playing. It involved a bit of math and figuring out Mayan symbols to open up a secret door. This was the only bright and interesting part of UAYEB I could find.
Behind these doors are caverns that lead to a golden Mayan artefact. The caverns are also filled with traps and rickety walkways. However, the traps and walkways, either trigger or give way with no prior warning, and it feels like a bit of a cheap shot, especially when there is no way to manually save – either wait until you find a bed or wait for the autosave to kick in randomly. Also, from what I found, getting any of the artefacts is pointless, as you only melt them down into gold, and you can find gold underwater in places anyway.
Onto the voice acting: it is woeful. The only other people who worked on this game are the two voice actors. If you’re doing a puzzle or trying to pick up an item that you have too many of, Uayeb pipes up with some witty remark, that isn’t funny and is terribly voiced.It consistently made me cringe. The same goes for the voice acting for the character Joanna — cringeworthy and flat.
Perhaps I am too critical of a game that was made by one person. He does deserve some credit for the amount of effort put into the game, but for me, what it boils down to is it worth somebody's money? At the time of writing, UAYEB priced at £21.99. Nobody should have to pay this amount for an indie title that is this bad.
UAYEB suffers from a vast number of problems, far too many that my word count for this review will allow. The quests are boring. The open world is far too open, no progression, a dull story, and the enemies are a non-threat. Puzzles, for the most part, are uninspired and almost cliché. It’s hard to find a good thing to say about UAYEB, other than the voice acting being so bad it actually becomes quite funny. Perhaps poor Uayeb should have stayed frozen, and spared me from having to play as him.
UAYEB (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is unenjoyable, but it works.
A very drab and uninteresting open world adventure game. Lacking in all key areas, and devoid of any fun whatsoever. Although, the creator must be commended on his efforts in making this game entirely be himself, sometimes it's best to leave it to the professionals.