Sawbuck Gamer

A False Saint, An Honest Rogue

Survival Tour

A False Saint, An Honest Rogue captures the lonely business of keeping yourself alive.

By Anthony John Agnello • April 11, 2013

Bear Grylls is a marvelous entertainer, but he’s also a real strawberry parfait when you get right down to it. His show Man Vs. Wild was not a show about survival. The man’s got a film crew with him. He’s been known to take a nap in a nearby motel when he’s supposed to be marooned on a tropical island. Les Stroud of Survivorman, on the other hand, now there’s a badass. Stroud may look like the old hippie selling grilled cheese in the parking lot of a Phish show, but his sojourns into forbidding landscapes are harrowing because he’s by himself, attempting to survive for a week or more. Sometimes the best part of the show is watching him crack up from the loneliness while also trying to gather food, fire, and water. Playing Jeremiah Reid’s A False Saint, An Honest Rogue is a lot like walking a mile in Stroud’s shoes—or his calloused, frostbitten feet, as the case may be.

Reid’s game drops you into dire circumstances. You’re alone in a snowy forest with nothing but a parachute to sleep in. As the game gets underway, an unnamed companion tells you to walk south (like all elements of the game, though, your cardinal direction is randomized) before promptly dying. You’re also buck naked.

From there, you gather whatever goods you can to keep your body running, scrounging up mushrooms and bread as well as scattered clothing. The silent, almost colorless environment engenders a frightening sense of vulnerability and desperation from the start. This despair is enhanced by the repetitious “crunch” written out in the game’s text log after each step, nailing that sound of dead snow.

Reid’s game is as punishing as it sounds. There is no motel to check into to save your progress. As a result, even the tiniest victories are giant. A freaking mushroom! I was about to starve. Now, back to the march. Stroud would be proud.

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16 Responses to “Survival Tour”

  1. George_Liquor says:

    Feh, Bear Grylls is the John Edward of survivalists. That man couldn’t survive a cake embargo.

  2. caspiancomic says:

    When I was at Uni and we only got like three channels, we used to watch a lot of Survivorman. Les Stroud is the real deal. The best episodes are the ones where he addresses the nature of the show and its format, like by getting a really artful shot of himself walking off into the distance, and then including the footage of himself returning to the source of the shot to collect the camera he used to capture the material. He really does go nuts sometimes, it’s a great show.

    • Roswulf says:

      I find Survivorman stunningly enthralling. It bludgeons such a starkly honest lesson into one’s brain, episode after episode.

      If placed into these situations, you would die…but even if you survived, you would be deeply, deeply miserable.

      I can’t look away from Les Stroud when he gets the look in his eyes that almost screams “why am I doing this? This is an awful thing to be doing. Ugh.” It is the epitome of reality television.

      • Army_Of_Fun says:

        I’d replace ‘epitome’ with ‘pinnacle’.

        I brought up Survivorman with a co-worker once. He scoffed, saying something along the lines of “He’s not really surviving though, he’s starving. They should’ve called it “Not-eating-for-a-week-Man”. We’re not in marketing.

  3. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    Ugh…closest I got to surviving was about 550 meters from safety.  It annoys me to no end that every single cabin or storage box requires a key to open.  Other than that, a fun little game.

    Is there any way to recover from getting wet?  Seems like guaranteed death within 10 turns or so if you step in water.

    • Jeremiah says:

      There’s a lot of randomness, so some games you’ll find no keys and other games you’ll have a tidy collection. They’re definitely intended to be rare.

      Getting wet is dangerous, but it’s usually not guaranteed death, especially early on. Try hitting the DISROBE button. You can take off all your clothes and wait for them to dry before putting them back on.

      That last part, you know, is at least a little inspired by Grylls. I must be the only person alive that doesn’t have a burning hatred for the guy. I was *this* close to adding in an option to drink your own piss.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        Haha, I sadly didn’t even notice the disrobe button.  Taking off clothing one piece at a time accelerated my demise.  Thanks!

        Always cool to hear directly from the game dev on here, too.

      • JudgeReinhold says:

        Fun glitch: I started off a game inside a locked cabin and couldn’t escape. 

        Thanks for making the game, by the way. Are you going to develop it further? From what I read you made it under time constraints. 

        • Jeremiah says:

          For various reasons, 7DRL entrants are encouraged not to really update their game further besides tweaks. Some people do anyway though. Bugs aside, I’m fairly satisfied with where it is at currently.

          Regarding your other post, glad you beat it and most of that strategy is solid. I will say that the shotgun is worthwhile if you can find a rabbit; hunting is meant to be a somewhat unreliable pursuit.

      • That was a fun little distraction for an afternoon!  I won on my third try, with a loaf of bread to spare.  On my first, I came within about 200 meters of safety before encountering an ice minefield that put me in mind of Christopher Nolan’s remake of Insomnia.  If you’d included an 8-bit version of Robin Williams in there stalking your character, I would have gotten chills.

        Quick question:  I know some of the clothes stack beneficially, but do some of the sleeping aids?  Early on, I was carrying around a blanket, a sleeping bag, AND a tent, because I sure as hell would keep all of them if I was waltzing through the arctic wilderness in real life.  But it occurred to me toward the end, “um, maybe the designer intended ‘parachute < blanket < sleeping bag < tent', and I've been carrying all this stuff for nothing".  A nice workout, I suppose, but just taking up inventory slots otherwise?

        • Jeremiah says:

          That’s always a point of confusion and one of the things I should have added. But no, sleeping items don’t stack (except for stacking with a cabin). Make sure you’re clicking on the item and not the SLEEP button!

          It turns out not to be a total waste to carry that stuff because extra weight increases your exertion, which dramatically increases your temperature AND hunger. There’s a tradeoff there, but the weight will keep you warm.

    • JudgeReinhold says:

      I managed to win on about my 10th try. It was a lot of trial and error early on figuring out the best strategy. But here’s what I went with:

      Don’t worry about carrying too much weight early on. Food is fairly plentiful, and carrying weight seems to keep your body temp up. 

      Use the shadows from the trees to determine which direction to go. 

      If you can, eat bread instead of mushrooms. Random mushrooms can poison you, which is instant death. 

      Don’t get wet. Avoid even the thin ice if at all possible. 

  4. Eco1970 says:

    It didn’t work on IE for me, so I switched to Firefox. It worked, but there seems to be a discrepancey between up/down movement and left/right. Up seems to move me a little bit, which is cool, but left or right  moved me huge distance so it was confusing.

    I just don’t ‘get’ games like this. I know they’re free and all, but i just think ‘I would have played the shit out of this in 1983’, spend 5 minutes on them, and then load up something with recognisable graphics.

    • Jeremiah says:

      A note about browser support is on my site, but unfortunately everyone links directly to the game itself.

      I’m going to chalk this one up to you couldn’t enjoy a game in which you didn’t understand the controls. The first thing listed in help is “Use arrows/wasd to move. Left & right turn; they DO NOT STRAFE.”

      • Eco1970 says:

        Ah, no wonder I got so confused. I’ll have another go. As I said, I’d have loved it in the 80s.