Navigable Waters is a multi-platform perpetual action-adventure life simulator produced by Lunatic Entertainment with the help of Upper One Games, another Alaskan-based game development company.
The name of the game comes from a bill working its way through the state capital, Juneau, as of the day of conception - March 17, 2016. The bill involved redefining of the state's definition of "navigable waters", which currently restricts indigenous peoples' ability to survive out in the Bush by legally preventing their using of waterways and trails to hunt and travel between settlements.
The game takes place along the Kuskokwim River in southwestern Alaska. The player's initial character is Elias Stonecipher, a young 18-years-old man who has taken over his family homestead after his father died of a heart attack. It is stated that his mother died during childbirth and that he is an only sibling.
Initially it is late winter, and Elias is tasked with traveling to the fictional town of Putchki on his father's old snowmachine to fetch his girlfriend to bring her out to the homestead. Spring soon sets in and the couple must use a small skiff to travel the river to set and check traps, catch fish, and hunt wild animals to fill the freezer to a level where they can survive the harsh winters. Wood must also be cut, and both you and your girlfriend can till and keep a small greenhouse garden to grow hardy vegetables like kale, onions, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, cabbage, and broccoli. Exceptional farming skill allows the player to grow more difficult crops, such as corn. However there is a time window each season to get these crops planted and harvested.
As a perpetual life simulator, the game has no actual winning ending; instead the player's initial character starts with a family that he will have to feed to keep alive. The character will only live for a regular amount of years before dying, which will convert the player's character to the child he has reared up to survive in the wilderness better - the other will leave. From then on the following characters will grow with age, eventually marrying and having children of their own and dying, and the game will continue perpetually until either the player fails to provide his family with enough sustenance to survive through a winter.
Along the way, the player not only must stockpile enough food (a gauge shows just how much is needed to survive, and any surplus food will carry over into the next year), but also avoid the National Park rangers who will try and stop you from hunting in the prime grounds. It is possible, albeit barely, to survive a winter without hunting on park lands, but life will be very difficult. Travel along waterways is also restricted, actually preventing you from even making it to a nearby village for other supplies to upgrade your housing and the like.
The 3D version of the game was released for the PC, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Xbox 720, Nintendo Wii U, and Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. This game is the more advanced of the two, featuring fully 3D environments and a third-person viewpoint which can be switched on the fly to first-person mode.
The primary differences between these platform versions is graphics quality: the PC, 720, and PS4 feature the best graphics while the 360 and PS3 have lower quality graphics that those systems are capable of properly supporting.
The 2D version of the game was released for the PC, IOS mobile devices, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation Vita. These games are slightly different from one another to take advantage of each platform's strong points.
For instance, the 3DS version features 3D graphics similar to The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and characters met via the system's Mii system throughout the real world will populate the nearby township. The more Miis met, the larger the township will get and the more space it will occupy while more businesses will open up. There are only a few businesses that can appear, and should multiple versions of businesses pop up, they will gain competing prices.
However, the mobile game features more simplistic sprite graphics to cut down on file size taken up on the devices.
The Vita version of the game has fully 2D graphics but has the option to use an Internet connection to check actual Alaska weather to alter the weather seen in the game on the fly.
The game features animal hunting and death via freezing to death or starvation, all of which are more realistic on the higher grade consoles. Although this has far less to do with "gore value" and more to do with realism, this places the game as T for Teen for simulated violence and adult situations.
Raising Them RightEdit
A major portion of the game is focused on the ability to train your children in skills to keep them alive through the winter. They cannot begin training until age 5, but can be trained until the age of 18. The player can take one or more children with him on each activity to train them in the particular skill used for these specific tasks, however there are pros and cons to both of these choices.
Should the player take multiple children of age on training, they will all get boosts to their skill levels although these levels will be spread between the children on a level equal to which ones you focus on and for how long per each; this will mean that overall, training the children up until age 18 will leave them with overall lower skill levels, but this also raises all children's loyalty to the player character, as well. While these characters will all have lower skill levels, they can each return to the homestead should a former player character perish until they are each deceased, effectively giving the player more "lives". The player will not need to keep association with their children after they've moved out as they will feel obligated to return home in order of overall skill levels, but doing so is still recommended.
Should the player instead choose to take only one child with him to train, that child will gain all the focus for training, leading to a lot more skill being obtained in that particular trait. This will also significantly increase that child's loyalty to you, but it will slowly lower the loyalty of the other children, who will become jealous. This will lead to only the primarily trained child to return stay or return home to take over the homestead and the other children will have no intent on returning home; to solve this issue the player character will need to keep in regular contact with these other children via a phone found in town; the more they keep in contact these offspring, the better their loyalty will be and the more likely it will be that they will return home as extra "lives" should the main offspring get killed.
It should be noted that only the children of the player character may return to the homestead to take it over - the player's grandchildren are stated to be too jaded to the idea of a harsh living and that they don't actually know their grandparents that well. When the player's children move away, they can be viewed on a map of the state, where they will be placed in random, existing cities. Depending upon where they randomly move to, their stats may very slowly increase or decrease depending on if they moved to a community similar to the Putchki area or larger cities like Anchorage or Fairbanks. Their skill set will never completely diminish, and each child will live for the same random yet extended number of years before they will die off, too. Characters may live between 50-80 years.
The game features two multiplayer modes that complement the otherwise single player game. In fact, both of these multiplayer modes can actually be active at the same time: These are Cooperative and Competitive Multiplayer. Cooperative allows a player to fill the roll of the current character's lover or spouse; if the character has children that are at least of age 13, up to two additional players can play alongside to aid in hunting and gathering. Competitive Play comes in the form of one player taking control of a Park Ranger; it is his job to catch the other players in the park, and arresting them. This player can cut trap lines and sabotage fishing set ups, use tranquilizer guns instead of deadly force (intended for use to keep from being attacked by rogue bears and the like but also works on the other humans - however doing so requires that the Ranger radio for immediate evac to prevent the homestead characters from overdosing on the tranq.
- Elias is named in honor of Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the largest national park in Alaska. His family's surname comes from the Stoneciphers, a family related to Lunatic Entertainment's CEO, Thor Steinbach.
- While the game takes place upon the Kuskokwim, the main character is Aleut. While this is technically incorrect as the Aleut are not indigenous to this region, this stems from Thor's own family history.