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Video Game / Raft

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Watch out for sharks.

Raft is an indie Survival Sandbox game developed by Redbeet Interactive and published by Axolot Games. It was fully released on Steam in May, 2018.

Alone or together, players battle to survive a perilous voyage across a vast sea on their titular raft, by gathering debris, scavenging reefs, and building a floating home, while dodging thieving seagulls and man-eating sharks.

Raft provides examples of:

  • Ability Required to Proceed: A player can not reach Balboa Island without finding the blueprints for and building the engine from the previous location.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • Once the advanced water purifier has been build, a player could just float forever without ever touching ground again... if the game wouldn't let food run out by having plants such as watermelons not always having seeds.
    • On the other hand, once you build a planter you don't need to worry about the soil losing nutrients or degrading: all you need to do is to keep the plants safe from birds and water them once in their growth cycle.
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    • Catching bees with the net has the bees collected inside a jar and players collect at least 4 guaranteed with a 60% chance of a 5th jar. Given how expensive bee hives are, it's a blessing to have.
    • All that is required to make the water drinkable is to vaporize it and remove salt.
    • The infections and diseases are not a concern, nor is poor diet like all meat or no fruit (bane of most seafarers of the past).
    • No hypothermia issue: heat from sunlight is enough, and you won't freeze in the water no matter how long you stay submerged.
    • A lot of resources are very common on small islands, like metal ore and scrap. Digging for them deep underground would hardly allow one to get any, after all.
    • Planks to be used as fuel do not require being dried up; any and all wood is suitable for crafting, construction and burning.
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    • Smelter allows to melt down copper, iron, titanium and some other substances; no differences in the process.
  • Action Bomb: The Poison Puffers' only form of attack is to swim up to players and immediately blow itself up into a huge cloud of poison gas.
  • Action Survivor: You're a seemingly ordinary young adult who fights off sharks and other aggressive wildlife with a spear and bow, and survives for weeks on end adrift at sea with nothing but whatever supplies they can scavenge.
  • After the End: In the full Steam version, you can discover a secret, flooded platform that reveals that the game is in the not-so-distant future where the world has gone the way of Waterworld and most of the planet has been drowned beneath an endless sea because of the ice caps melting.
  • An Axe to Grind: Players can craft an axe to chop down trees or remove foundations on the raft. Unfortunately, the tool cannot be used to attack any environmental threats.
  • Bandit Mook: Seagulls will steal your crops if you're not careful.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Large islands may be populated by bears, which will attack aggressively until you get off their island. And one of the landmarks you encounter in the story-line is a bear sanctuary.
  • Bee Afraid: Downplayed in this game as the bees can harm the players but they don't deal a lot of damage. Also they can be caught with a sweep net to gain bee jars.
  • Blackout Basement: The insides of the Vasagatan yacht are very dark, requiring players to get a headlamp to navigate the place to see what's going on.
  • Blade on a Stick: Players can craft a metal spear which is stronger than a wooden spear but is more expensive in terms of resources.
  • Bug Catching: Players can catch bees using the sweep net and obtain bee jars.
  • Companion Cube: Bruno from Balboa Island built 4 dolls and - according to notes - had a lot of fights with them.
  • Counter-Attack: The best way to handle the threats in the game is to let them attack you, dodge, and then attack when their attack animation finishes. Players can unleash a few attacks before they have to dodge again.
  • Crate Expectations: Crates and barrels are this game's equivalent of a treasure chest, giving a ton of resources and sometimes even recipes or blueprints.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted. You will slow down and your sight will begin to blur or black out if you're starving, dehydrated or seriously wounded.
  • Death from Above: Large islands are sometimes populated by Screechers, large, aggressive, Roc-like birds which will fly by and pelt you with rocks.
  • Deserted Island: From small rock formations to big landmasses. Some show signs of humans having stayed, while others are virtually untouched.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Creating one smelter requires players to dig through small islands for clay and sand and players will at least need 12 of each to create a wet brick that needs to dry on top of the raft before it turns into a dry brick. You need 6 per smelter (and a 7th brick for the initial smelter as players will need to research the dry brick at the research table to even start making one). Making multiple smelters will take forever due to the resources needed to make at least one. But once players get multiple smelters, players can smelt multiple amounts of ores which saves time for players in the long run. Especially once players get their hands on titanium ore as one alone would take a longer time to smelt compared to metal or copper ore.
    • Reinforcing the entire foundation of your raft will require gathering (and smelting) a lot of metal ore and using up a lot of scrap for nails, but it will allow you to sail smoothly without fear of losing raft pieces to a single shark attack.
    • Attacking the shark without taking any damage from the shark lunging at you is another as the player only has a second to react before the shark hits the player. Doubly so if the players use the machete instead of the spear which has a longer startup. But once players master how to properly attack the shark, the shark becomes a minor nuisance at most and becomes an excellent source for shark meat and the shark head which players can then use to put inside the biofuel refiner, saving players food resources.
    • Obtaining bee jars is one of the most tedious tasks in the game as bees only spawn in specific large islands, and don't respawn until the player leaves the island and has at least traveled to where the island is no longer a blip on the navigation system. But once players collect bee jars, they can then create their own beehives which, combined with a few small crop plots to plant flowers, they can easily get a healthy source of honeycomb. Which then can be combined with glass to create two honey jars. This allows players to pump as much biofuel as possible to put inside a biofuel tank to power the engines and later on, charge batteries with the battery charger, saving planks for other uses.
  • Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer: Players can allow friends to join them on their raft.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: At Tangaroa, players can collect tapes to fix the wires at the plantation area which is flooded with water that also has electricity running periodically.
  • The Elites Jump Ship: Tangaroa appears to be an example of this, where the ship in question is all of the land that got swallowed by the rising oceans. Notes and features around the city indicate it was built specifically to cater only to wealthy residents, and that it was intended to be completely isolated and self-sustaining. Unfortunately the owner and his engineers didn't build in enough farming capacity to feed the population for very long, which lead to people either being killed in riots or straight-up abandoning the place.
  • Endless Game: While there is story, the gameplay itself is this.
  • Fall Damage: Players can fall from a really high place but it only takes a third of their life at most.
  • Flooded Future World: In the full Steam version, it's revealed that the reason you are Lost at Sea is because of the ice caps melting and submerging most of the world. While there were some attempts to prevent this through reforestation projects, the government thought they cost too much money and spent their funding on floating cities and yachts instead.
  • Foreshadowing: Under the water around islands, you can sometimes find submerged little huts. Turns out the islands didn't sink — the sea rose.
  • Green Aesop: Subtle, but every commodity you eventually build for yourself will be made with recycled flotsam and renewable materials.
    • On the other hand, a newspaper on Balboa suggests that scientists were worried the world was getting too cold. Gone Horribly Right?
    • The second chapter hammers in the importance of environmental sustainment programs, as the reforestation projects were cancelled because the government thought they cost too much money, and spent their funding on floating cities and yachts instead.
  • Grimy Water: The toxic lake on Balboa Island.
  • Guide Dang It!: Players can use the heads of the slain animals (i.e. a shark head) as substitute for raw food to feed the biofuel and actually fills it up faster than using raw food. Without looking up any guides whatsoever, players will probably think that the heads are just for decoration.
  • Hearts Are Health: Your life meter is represented by a cartoon heart.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: With a fishing rod, the player can just fish in the ocean and obtain different kinds of fish.
  • Heroic Mute: The player never speaks. Justified since there's nobody to talk to.
  • Item Crafting: Start building or you won't survive long.
  • Just Add Water: The Pot recipes simply require you to put certain combinations of ingredients inside it to make multiple servings of more nourishing meals. Contrary to the trope name, you don't even need to add water.
  • Killer Robot: When the player gets to the surface of Tangaroa, they'll end up encountering robots who shoot out electricity. Defeating these robots allows players to obtain Tangaroa keycards that allow players to access the locked buildings.
  • King Mook: The Mama Bear, which is a more powerful variant of the common bears. Killing it gives out an achievement, loads of leather and raw meat, and the Mama Bear Head which players can put on as a head, a trophy, or a substitute food resource for the biofuel refiner.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Everywhere you go that shows signs of civilization, you always seem to have arrived not long after every other person has either died or fled due to some disaster (like an outbreak of salmonella in Caravan Town) or people straight-up going stir crazy (like the ranger on Balboa Island.)
  • Lost at Sea: The central premise of the game is to survive this.
  • MacGyvering: Everything you craft is entirely or mainly made of cobbled together scraps.
  • Mama Bear: A literal example with the mama bear boss.
  • Minimalist Cast: Just you and the animals.
  • Mood Whiplash: While generally in a desperate situation, the music and views make the game feel at least somewhat pleasant. Then you find the abandoned radio tower that creepily creaks every now and then. Gets topped later by entering Vasagatan which also is pitch dark and filled with enemies.
  • Mooks Ate My Equipment: If not driven off in time, the shark will munch squares off your raft and whatever happens to be on them.
  • Nemean Skinning: The Shark and some other wild animals will drop their heads upon being slain, which you can wear as hats or masks. Or for an even more practical use, as food for the biofuel refiner.
  • No Antagonist: There is no real villain and the only threats to you are natural.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": Subverted; bows have a very limited range due to the fact arrows will plummet down after a couple dozen feet.
  • Nobody Poops: You need to eat and drink but that's as far as your digestion goes.
  • No Periods, Period: If you play as a woman, you won't need to worry about your menstrual cycle, which one would expect to be very important when dealing with blood-tracking sharks. To be fair, being wounded in any way does nothing to attract them either.
  • No Recycling: Some items like the clay bowl or the battery from the metal detector are not recycled after the player consumes the item.
  • Organ Drops: You can get and cook meat from enemies you kill. Since they all happen to be animals, it's all good. Some of the meats are interchangeable (like no difference between rat, llama, goat or bear), and some animals drop unique loot like shark meat. Notably, pigs in Caravan Town drop no edible meat due to infection.
  • Palette Swap: The animals you can tame come in one of three colors, with one being more likely than the others. You actually get an achievement for catching an animal in a rare color.
  • The Piano Player: One of the props that players can buy inside the vending machines at Tangaroa is a piano that players can play on the raft.
  • Player Versus Environment: While friendly fire can be activated, the player(s) mainly fight against game mechanics and mooks.
  • Protagonist Without a Past: Played with. The notebook has a bunch of advice from an older sister, together with a family picture. It is unclear what happened to her and impossible to find the original home location (if it even still exists).
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Choosing to play as a man or a woman makes absolutely no difference to the game: the only thing that changes is the avatar in main menu and in third-person mode (which is rarely used since the gameplay is first-person anyway), and a some of the sounds the PC makes when injured.
  • Regenerating Health: Your health slowly recovers over time, but sleeping in a bed or hammock or using a poultice speeds up the process.
  • Resting Recovery: The bed/hammock fully heals an injured player. In Normal mode it allows a downed player to keep their inventory. In Hard mode, it is the only way to avoid a game over.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: At Tangaroa, the ceiling door that the player opens floods the entire area, requiring players to backtrack to find pockets of air. This also allows access to the plantation area as the ladder leading to said area is broken.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Lurkers are dog-sized mutant rats you first encounter on the wreck of the Vasagatan. While fast, they're fairly weak and will go down in a few hits. The Lurkers you encounter later in the game in the domed city of Tangaroa are a bit tougher.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Trailers for Chapter 3 reveal skyscrapers underwater.
  • Player Versus Environment: Peaceful mode only has players deal with hunger, thirst and oxygen. Mooks don't attack (some like bears and lurkers only when provoked), inventory is kept and players can swim out to things without risk of life.
  • Skippable Boss: If you don't feel up to fighting Mama Bear on Balboa Island, you can gather berries to distract her while you explore her lair for the items you need to progress.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: The player can find a few notes, read some newspapers on the windows of a shack and listen to a few of the radio announcements to find out what happened/is happening. Eventually this builds up to important coordinates that the player has to visit — first is what looks like an abandoned science platform, which then leads you to an abandoned pleasure yacht, then to a bear reserve, then to what looked like to be a whole town founded (fairly recently) by survivors like you, which then leads you to an actual floating domed city, Tangaroa.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The final piece of the puzzle for the Vasagatan yacht has the player craft a bomb with the parts found at the ship to blow up the door to the bridge.
  • Survival Sandbox: It's just you, your ever-growing makeshift raft, and whatever you can scrounge up against the wilderness and the endless sea.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The sharks always stalk you when you are on your raft, tearing off chunks of its foundation if you do not drive them away quickly enough when they attack. They appear one at a time, and if you kill one, you get a few minutes of peace... until another one takes its place to stalk you endlessly.
  • The Swarm: One of the notes found at Tangaroa has the writer complaining about the beetle infestation happening at the banana plantation. Players do see some when they enter the dome on the ground for the first time.
  • Threatening Shark: One will stalk your raft and attack it every now and then, destroying the squares you build unless you drive it away. Naturally, it will try to eat you if you linger in the water too long, unless you distract it with some shark bait.
  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: There are only two ways to see the character: the main menu, and when the player presses the comma key on the keyboard.
  • With This Herring: You start on a 2x2 raft with nothing but a plastic hook to reel in floating garbage, with no food or water and a shark eager to chew on it and you. Good luck.
  • Wham Shot: Once you reach the radio tower, the game is over, right? Nope, and you find out from a billboard and newspaper clippings that the entire world has been flooded, and there might maybe be an utopia that still has enough dry land to survive out there.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: You need to reel in resources like wood and plastic using your hook to build things to keep yourself alive, like water purifiers and fishing rods.

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