Have you ever wished you could just get away? Quit your job, grab a couple tools and some beef jerky and go live off the land? I have.
But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we can experience all the thrills of trying to not die in the wilderness without the consequences.
The Unreal World is a computer game based all around that concept. Two decades old and still going strong with regular updates, the game is a sandbox survival game based in Finland during the Iron Age. I find it thrilling.
Figuring out how to play took a little while and I died a few times in the process, but it was worth it. It’s incredible to chase down wild animals and slay them with my pixel javelins that I crafted out of the tree I chopped down so that I can harvest and preserve the meat to keep me alive during the winter and tan the fur to keep me warm or to trade with some nearby villagers.
My first go at it involved testing out whether or not you could stab a villager with a hunting knife. To sate your curiosity: yes, you can. But beware, because if you’re like me, a small village child will run over to help (his father?) and you’ll find little recourse but to stab him too. Obviously at that point there’s an entire angry village chasing you through the woods and your attempts to swim across a river only end in drowning. If you’re like me that is.
Attempt two: Do not stab villagers, try out this wilderness survival thing. Things went pretty well my second time around until I tried swimming again. I progressed at what seemed to me to be a pretty good rate and actually survived for about two whole days before I decided I should swim to a nearby island. As it turns out, swimming wasn’t a popular skill in Finland during the Iron Age. I drowned again and resolved to never set foot in the water again without a raft.
Attempt three: Temptation prevails and I drown en route to another island.
Attempt four (current attempt): “It’s going well here in the wilderness of Finland’s Iron age,” I write home to mother. “I slew what appeared to be a moose the other day while I was dying of starvation. His meat should last me a few weeks and the tanned hide will help during the winter.
“I hope my siblings are all okay and tell dad that I’m not dead yet. I must be going as I see a nearby island and I think I can make the swim – Love, your son”
The joy of Unreal World comes from the depth of content. You can make traps, fish with nets, craft a raft, build a log cabin. There are so many different ways to play.
You could be a hydro-phobic hermit like me, making everything you need to survive and visiting settlements just long enough to trade for the things you can’t build. You could be a trapper, getting furs and foods and trading them for the other supplies you need. You can even be a cannibal, I hear.
It truly is the perfect way to enjoy the thrills and dangers of wilderness living without experiencing the thrills and dangers of wilderness living.
If that appeals to you like it does me, you can check out the game for free by visiting their website. If you like it, be sure to buy the full version for just $3.