What do you get if you cross System shock with Bioshock? Well, a pretty damn shocking game, that’s what.

It’s called P.A.M.E.L.A.

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P.A.M.E.L.A caught everyone’s attention at Game Developer’s Conference last week. A live demo showed a gorgeous sci-fi city that plays host to the game’s open world survival horror action.

Now, if you’re thinking “Open world survival horror? Sounds familiar” then just you hold your horses. Because P.A.M.E.L.A is actually one of the most unique and intriguing games from GDC. For starters, it’s intelligent as hell. It’s similar to System Shock and Bioshock, it advocates exploration, and it takes place in a claustrophobic world that will have you biting your nails like a little kid whose been forced to go to the dentist.

I realise that saying it’s like System Shock and Bioshock is quite a mouthful. Most game’s that set such highly ambitious aims fall dismally short. But P.A.M.E.L.A actually looks like it might do what it promises to do.

Part of the reason P.A.M.E.L.A looks great is because it avoids the pitfalls other survival horrors fall into.

Tons of open world horror games quickly descend into repetitiveness. You eat, craft, east, craft, and then you’re killed. P.A.M.E.L.A, however, avoids all that boring monotony by giving you a really cool survival goal.

You wake up from cryostasis and find that the other people on Eden—a world that up to now has been utopian—have contracted some sort of disease that puts them in extreme pain and pisses them off so much that the only thing they want to do is kill you. Don’t even bother to mention how similar that is to a woman with PMS pains. Don’t even both. That would be rude.

These disease-ridden humans confine themselves to the shadows, and when they get near you they’ll jump at you, trying to claw your throat out and club at your head.

The world itself is truly beautiful. It runs through a day and night cycle that utilises beautiful lighting effect. When it’s dawn light floods into the rooms through tall windows. When it’s night and the darkness sets in you feel a daunting sense of claustrophobia. Rich blue and green ambience creates a crisp, modern world, making you feel like you’ve stepped into Coruscant.

But amidst all this beauty is the impending doom as those diseased humans hunt you. That’s why, as soon as you start playing, you’re advised to set-up a safe haven. So you set about building your base, and you’re excited because the components you need are actually in the places you’d expect to find them, rather than simply littered all over the place in bins and random cupboards. This isn’t Final Fight where you find whole roast turkeys in the street. It’s a realistic city that actually makes sense.

When you construct your base you’ll need to bear in mind where power sources are. One developer at GDC set-up a camp at an intersection between three corridors. The walls are made of energy so they steal the power from the generator. Run out of juice and the walls will fade. Then your puny carcass is going to be eviscerated by those nasty enemies.

You can get more power, but you’ll need to journey through Eden to the central reserves to the routers, and then redirect the power to the right district. This probably gives you a sense of how detailed and realistic P.A.M.E.L.A’s game world is.

If I sound excited about P.A.M.E.L.A it’s because I am. Honestly, P.A.M.E.L.A is one of 2016’s most exciting games for me.

When studio director Adam Simonar showed the game the general response was that it’s System Shock spliced with Bioshock and done in the right way. And the result is shocking. Actually I don’t know why they didn’t just call it Shock City, given the Bioshock / System Shock theme.

But I digress.

The realism of the survival horror action here, and the beautifully designed city and its ambient lighting all serve to produce a truly immersive looking game. And the best bit is that the horror of the actual theme contrasts with the positivity and beauty of the city. You know when devs are masters in game design because they constantly contrast things. Darkness brings out the light. Salt brings out the sugar. And in games, a beautiful world brings out the horror of its underlying theme.


The result is a game that is as beautiful as it is immersive. And I absolutely cannot wait to get hold of this.

P.A.M.E.L.A looks like a game made in game-design heaven. And if it lives up to its promise of being a System-Shock-meets-Bioshock-horror-extravaganza, you might very well be witnessing a new classic here.

I will definitely be following P.A.M.E.L.A and realising new content and articles about it. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Here’s your link to the official site.


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Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.


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