Ok, after some updates and some time spent in the game, I can say I really do enjoy it. I don't have the peformance issues other players complained about, so that's something. It's still a very clunky game and has an amateurish air to it, even an unintended retro feel. I can't help but to think that I enjoy it because of all the issues it has not despite them.
The environments are one of the main appeals, the others are the rewarding exploration and leveling of the player character and equipment. I really like the dissonance between the clean, futuristic architecture and the cluttered mess that fills its halls. Heaps of body bags, corridors filled with broken equipment from provisoric quarantine stations and barricades between luxury apartments, shops, libraries and clinics. The buildings have a lot of glass surfaces and mostly have a vertical layout giving you a nice illusion of a vast city, even tough it is supposed to be small.
It's more or less an open world game, the limiting factor for exploration seem to be overpowered enemies that roam some areas. As I said, exploration is very rewarding, because there is a huge amount of equipment you can use. I played five hours in one game and haven't even filled all possible equipment slots. You can find objects to upgrade your equipment, your player character, weapons and even the AI that guides you through the game. That's all really cool - it's just that the game doesn't really explain anything of that to you. Even after several updates, tutorial screens don't seem to trigger in the right moments. I just stumbled upon the menu to upgrade my weapons.
Here are some tips to get some enjoyment out of the game. They are only valid at the beginning of the game, once you gathered enough resources and upgraded armor, it's much easier:
- don't try to be a though guy and play on a higher difficulty setting: Fighting is clunky, the enemies are strong can kill you in seconds if you haven't found a shield module and armor yet. I haven't found armor beyond a helmet after some hours. So turn the strength of the enemies all the way down and, by god, don't activate the "always wanted" option. You can leave the slider for food and water where it is, there's plenty around.
-find a flashlight: The game is very dark and the power goes out constantly. You might stumble around in blackness for hours if you don't have a flashlight. The good part is, that the game has a variety of different upgradable flashlights and they don't drain your batteries. A game where the flashlight doesn't need batteries! That alone earns respect. The bad part is that it might take hours to find one, since the placement seems to be random
-upgrade your weapons and equipment: Nearly every part of your equipment can be improved: Some through the "engineering" screen (press C) and some over the upgrade screen on the far right of the inventory.
-who needs sleep?: You can avoid sleeping (I didn't find out how to build a bed for a long time anyway) by drinking coffee, energy drinks and certain injections. This is especially important in the beginning, because you might not be able to build a bed yet.
-you need electricity. Sometimes. The lights often don't seem to work with normal power anyway, so you only need it for lifts, recyclers and vending machines. The latter ones are rather important, though. Start repairing the power lines and generators early.
-don't build a bases where enemies spawn: Sadly, this game has crafting and base building. It hardly tells you anything about it, but at some point you need it to create certain parts. The game gives you a variety of defense objects like energy barriers, traps and turrents you can use to protect your belongings. That's just a trap to drain your resources. Build your base in a small room where enemies don't go. I recommend the back rooms of Garrison stations or the apartments on the top floors of Arcadia. The latter ones aren't completely safe, but they have the plus of getting enough sunlight to set up photovoltaic and and a garden.
-don't pick fights with enemies that look dangerous. They are. You'll die. You don't want to die in this game because it only has few respawn points and you have to get all the equipment back from your corpse. This doesn't count for those glowing burnt corpse-things. They are whimps.
-don't try to fight more than two enemies at once. It's not that you can't handle that - it's just that I have observed that if there are three or more enemies around, they tend to respawn immediately. That's an overall unfixed issue, I'm absolutely not fond of: Enemies tend to respawn everywhere in the corridors. Just turn around and a new, even stronger enemy might have spawned directly on the corpse of your last victim. This means if you are barely able to survive a fight, you should probably get out of there.
All in all, I'm rather glad that I'm getting something out of the money I payed for it. I wouldn't really recommend spending the asking price for it, but it has a lot of rough charm to it.