Let’s get the first lazy wordplay out of the way: the tutorial in Garbage was precisely that. This start of the game isn’t remotely intuitive. A couple of objectives appear to the right of the screen but doesn’t say how to achieve them.
My first character is Perez, and he stands before me with a Techno Viking goatee and dirty pair of pants. The first thing we need to do is build a make-do gym. The options are strength, agility and stamina related.
As a tank professional, I went with strength. Using some of the rubbish on my assumed land, a weight is now in front of me, and Perez needs to pick it up. To do that, you select your character with the left mouse and action with the right – and that’s all you appear to be able to do.
After building a shower, it took a good couple of minutes for him to actually walk there. Remember, left mouse, then right – I think I can do that. Eventually, it computed, and I now had a shiny bum. At least I’m having fun writing this Garbage review.
Garbage Review – PC via Steam
Without warning (I later found that the stubbed out cigarette indicates the time you will be attacked – thanks for nothing, tutorial), a rival hobo enters my court and knocks me out. The solution is to train harder, so with nothing to do, leave him to work out as time continues to tick regardless of your input.
Perez the Garbage bum has levelled up, and as my focus is strength, I choose some options from a promising skill tree. In walks the next hobo, I set up my haymaker… knocked out again. So it’s going to be a grind until I’m tough enough.
I can’t build anything as there aren’t any resources, and now he’s hungry. In my dumpster (my stash), I have a potato and cucumber seeds, but despite being desperate, you can’t eat them as is, and there’s no feedback on what you have to do.
After clicking all the areas, including a cog that would insinuate options but kicks me back to the menu, Perez dies of malnutrition. This isn’t a rogue-like where I’ve unlocked anything new: he’s dead. On my next run, the game says I can interact with the map this time, so head into town where it makes a joke about Night City, though the AI is working. Glass houses…?
Hook(er), Line And Sinker
A hooker-like character called Repunzel sits on a balcony. Interact with her, and she says:
He keeps singing this shitty song for me! I hate it, hate it, hate it!
I feel for her. The option now? Click ‘confirm’, then nothing happens. What makes this all the more frustrating is to the left is my Perez avatar: he’s alive again with the same stats and still hungry. There’s the option to trade food for gear, but it’s the other way around – how do I get food?
Clicking confirm on a few more NPCs, I get a chance to fight a lesser character. Claiming my first win, I manage to get some food, so maybe things are looking up in this Garbage game. This process happens again on another day, and I’ve managed to recruit another bum.
Believing that Perez can train at home and the new guy can earn some resources, they both travel to a new area, the playground, and we have to double team some kids… A firecracker to the head, and the new guy is KO’d. Perez punches a kid, and they’re KO’d, then the fight stops for a full minute, nothing happens, and Perez does a week punch to which the kid throws a firecracker and KO’s him.
The problem is levelling up your characters to a sufficient level where they can handle themselves. The invasions are overpowered, so forget about them. Repeatedly training your bum builds their HP and energy levels, as well as the moves list – it’s essential.
Taking Out The Trash (Sorry)
The downside of investing in them is they get hungry, and to get food, you need to win fights, but you can’t win fights as you’re underpowered… I like the idea of the game, and making a base that features gardening, sleeping arrangements, and a shower is a good touch – you just don’t get much of an opportunity to see them in action.
Visually, Garbage is some of the prettiest trash I’ve seen with great ambience and active environments. Character models and textures are high quality, and the soundtrack, while a repetitive lo-fi hip-hop arrangement, is excellent and was the most enjoyable and consistent part of the game.
With a body temp of 50, satiety at 70, my character went to sleep and then up popped ‘Hobo death’ – no explanation, just that. The fight event clocks continued, but there was nothing I could do then finally, ‘Do you want to participate in the arena event?’ Erm… I don’t have any hobos…
As it stands, Garbage still needs some tweaking. It’s far too difficult to get engaged in the game. For a title that focuses on humour quite often, you’re far from smiling after each agonising death – be it from hunger, the cold, or that it’s just so erratic. But that’s my own opinion – don’t let me stop you as it has so much potential.
Garbage Review Summary
If there was some balancing here, and I’m not talking anything complex, but when your character has taken an age to level up (you can’t fast-forward time despite it moving so quickly when you do nothing), you’d think that your bum who’s three levels above the other will win, but it’s like fighting One Punch Man as the tables turn too quickly and it doesn’t seem fair.
I’ve made a point of watching others’ gameplay and can see that it is possible to recruit a larger team with a very self-sufficient base. That element looks appealing, and I’d be more than happy to bite the bullet on a story type mode – just to experience it.
However, the lack of resources, the randomness of battles (and you can’t give your characters names or customise them), meant that my experience of Garbage wasn’t so great. I’d recommend playing the demo and seeing what you think. I don’t hate it in the slightest, but the unpredictable nature tainted the dirty rainwater. I may update this review as still chipping away at it.