Fewer Still is an open world action-adventure survival horror video game shooter taking place in a post apocalyptic world, years after a devastating nuclear exchange. In it, the player takes must make his way through the militant, mutated, and even supernatural dangers on or below the surface.
The game world is large with different locations such as urban cities, rural farmland, and underground sewer and subway systems. Parts of the environment may contain hazards such as, fallout, chemical waste, and un-triggered explosives. There is also a dynamic weather system that has a day-night cycle and different weather conditions such as storms and strong winds which can cause different areas to become contaminated with nuclear fallout. Irradiated areas require that the player wear a gas mask to avoid suffocation.
First and foremost a First Person Shooter, the player must use a multitude of post-apocalyptic themed weaponry to cut down a wide variety of enemies. The game involves gun fighting, melee combat, and a cover system with no preset cover locations, only crouching near objects and navigating normally. Combat is mostly split between two forms, that of shootouts with human renegades belonging to the various militant factions - and that of gunplay with ferocious mutated creatures that hunt and close in on the Player for tense moments of close range combat. Weapons in this game mainly consist of makeshift and crude, yet effective weapons. A major gameplay feature is that these weapons degrade over time. Guns can become dirty and prone to jamming which affects the fire rate and accuracy of the firearm. Melee weapons can also degrade causing them to have a longer ‘swing’ time and deal less damage. However, weapons will never degrade to a point of becoming inoperable.
Survival is a main theme of the game, and danger is always around the corner, scavenging and conserving ammunition and supplies in and between moments of combat becomes vital. The player can arm their character with firearms to defend themselves from enemies; although the ammunition available for each firearm is limited and the player must learn to conserve the ammunition they have for situations where they will really need it. In Fewer Still, resources are limited and parts of the gameplay will revolve around scavenging for supplies in the environment. Supplies are objects that the player can utilize to further their survival, combat enemies, replenish their health, and store things in. Many of the supplies the player can scavenge often do not have an apparent use, however by going into the player’s backpack, the player can use recipes introduced throughout the game to craft useful supplies from once useless consumables such as liquor, discarded towels, and broken razor blades. To force the player to make tough decisions based upon their current circumstance, all of the items crafted require some of the same consumables that can be used for another creatable item both crafted and un-crafted items are used as currency in-game adding another thing to consider when using an item. Another aspect of the crafting system is that it happens in real-time, meaning that the game does not pause while crafting, forcing the player to choose their crafting time effectively in order to avoid being taken advantage of by enemies while busy. Many gameplay elements, such as items (i.e. guns, armor, and clothing), and enemies, use procedural generation in order to provide a massive variety of content. The game features story-based missions, quests, free world exploration, and the ability to interact with everything in the environment in some way, shape, or form (picking up chairs or boards to barricade doors, flipping large objects over to create cover, throwing cans or bottles to lure guards away, ect.).
Fewer Still uses a very limited heads up display element to keep to a more "realistic" and "immersive" experience. Rather than the use of a health bar, blood splatters on the screen indicate how much damage is being done to the player, and the fogging up of the gas mask in certain irradiated sections of the game world give him hints as to how long until a new filter is required. In order to survive, the player must constantly be aware of the game's subtle indicators. When the player needs to check their heading, they must refer to their map and a compass. Everything is done in real time meaning the game never pauses for things like checking a map, crafting, or equipping items.
The game feature a unique health system. Instead of a health bar the game breaks down the different types of damage into three categories: Fall damage, gunshot wounds, and burns. Fall damage results in slower movement speed and requires the player to snap twisted or broken bones into position in order to regain full movement speed. Gunshot wounds have multiple effects depending on where the player is hit, the player can either have decreased movement speed, forced to use one handed weapons, or forced to crawl. Gunshot wounds require the player to remove bullets with pliers and wrap the wound with bandages. Depending on the burn (radiation, chemical, or fire) the player can experience decreased or increased movement speed, but all burns result in decreased visibility and inability to do tasks other than first aid. To treat burns the player must wash the affected area and wrap it in bandages. Most damage can be healed gradually if the player avoids taking further damage, but if the character sustains a large amount of damage then the character must perform immediate first aid on himself or bleed out to death. Even though the character is able to heal himself a single headshot or a sustained burst of assault rifle fire can kill the player instantly, so the game relies more on tactical combat rather than arcade run-and-gun shooting.
The game features a loose narrative. The game however, features multiple endings that are given to the player based upon a hidden system of Moral Points, which subtly reward players for acting out altruistically or with curiosity – often times without them even realizing it, and depending on which path through the game world the player decides to navigate. The game world "shows not tells", this means that things like plot, story, and hints are given through subtle clues in the environment the player can also uncover various documents that provide exposition and information about the game's narrative, as well as clues that help them solve various puzzles within the game world, often times these puzzles reward the player with Key items that give the player access to other items or new areas. The game is unique in that it subtly guides the player without actually telling them where to go. Depending on which areas the player explores and in what order the ending also changes.
The developers have also stressed the amount of realism and believability that they seek to heavily attribute to the game's AI; in which they will show emotion and vulnerability by getting angry when a friend dies, warning each other of danger, and becoming frightened when they've lost the upper hand. The AI’s tactics change depending on the actions of the player. Therefore if the player attempts to retreat or stops to reload enemies will rush them or if the player appears to be better equipped and fights very aggressively then the Al enemies will cower and attempt to retreat. The player can use any number of tactics to fight enemies, depending on parameters like how well-equipped your foes are, how many are there, and the like. The player can also utilize stealth to get around unaware enemies. The time of day also affects the behavior of AI, in terms of enemy alertness and aggressiveness; for example, an enemy might have a slightly heightened awareness at night, but be unable to see the player in hiding, while during the hot part of the day the enemies might be sitting in the shade in groups but easily spot the player from a distance.
The game features a day-and-night cycle, as well as tree and vegetation regeneration. A unique fire propagation mechanism, which allows a small fire to spread and eventually cause large brush fires, may be used either to the player's advantage during combat or against the player. The behavior of fire is dependent on factors such as wind speed, wind direction, rain, and vegetation type. For example, a fire may not spread as easily in a lush, moist environment compared to dry, grassy areas. A modified version of this mechanism is also used to determine the direction nuclear fallout is heading. Several species of non-mutated animals can be encountered in the game, and are able to distract the enemy as well as make them aware of the player's presence.