The Culling (Early Access) The Big House Update Review – Turning Around the Titanic?


The Culling
Xaviant Games

I’ll make no bones about it—I used to be a huge fan of The Culling. Around the time that it debuted (March 2016) I’d just become disillusioned by the big H1Z1 split—into two separate games, with King of the Kill being one of them, which was a failed attempt at a battle royale-style game. I was also reeling from my first forays into the overly-brutal world of kill-on-sight central, you guessed it—the rage-quitting extravaganza that is Rust.

Then The Culling dropped on the gaming masses out of nowhere. I’m mean, literally sight-unseen. Initially, I was more than a little skeptical, since during that period, it seemed like everyone and their mother was coming out with yet another “me too” Early Access survival game (and still are, actually). What interested me in The Culling, however, was its funky gameshow sensibilities, including an announcer whose tongue-in-cheek comments throughout each match added a strange contradictory air to the grisly proceedings.


What also drew me in was that The Culling was the first ever battle royale-style game built for that purpose alone, and all from the ground up. If you’ve ever thought about playing something similar to The Hunger Games or the original Japanese Battle Royale films, this is about as close as you’re going to get.

The Culling presents itself as a gameshow in which sixteen “contestants” are thrown together on a tropical island, and have twenty-five minutes to dispatch one another. It can be played solo or with a teammate. There are various buildings located around on the island which contain lockers and crates containing items and weapons. You can also gather natural resources to craft makeshift versions of these as well.


I’ll never forget the first few games that I played. The Culling’s emphasis on melee combat was just what I’d been looking for, as opposed to other survival games where ranged weapons were usually the focus. The melee combat system is also multi-faceted. You could attack, block, or push opponents, and this rock-scissors-paper dynamic always made close quarters combat exciting and unpredictable. Not to say that The Culling’s ranged combat wasn’t fun as well, but there was just something so satisfying about smashing someone’s body down with a heavy wrench or brass knuckles, and then running down their crippled mess of whatever’s left, and finishing your business.

Combat also had a myriad of effects based off of what type of weapon you were employing. For instance, if you hacked away at someone using a hacking weapon such as an ax, you can afflict them with an exposed wound, which makes each attack after the initial one more damaging. Or, say you shoot someone with a poisonous blow gun dart—you can then watch with glee as they become sick and begin retching and vomiting.


In all though, the combat is so over-the-top and bloody, and the setting so surreal, that I usually end up laughing my butt off while playing The Culling, even those times when I end up with the short end of the stick. That’s not to say that the game can’t be intense—there have been many times when I’ve been one of the last two or three combatants left, sneaking around scanning for my fellow remaining contestants. It can really get tense, and I’ve had my temples pounding with more red liquid than a blood bank on many occasions. And when you get to pull off that final killing blow and defeat that last foe, there’s a real sense of accomplishment (along with some tension-reducing laughter) that lingers for some time. To put it short, The Culling can be a great stress-reliever.

Since The Culling’s initial release, the developers have released update after update that seriously detracted from the original game’s beautiful formula. The gaming masses responded by condemning the game, and it took a massive dive in popularity. For a long time, I thought that The Culling would never recover. And then, just like that, Xaviant Games comes out of nowhere once again and releases one giant mammer-jammer of an update called The Big House.


The Big House not only boasts a brand new map (which we’ve all been waiting for forever) calling Cul County Correctional, but also new weapons, new game modes, and more. The new map is a prison setting, complete with cells, yards, parking lots, and tunnels. It’s great for either finding a perch and sniping, or setting up close quarters ambushes.

There are several new game modes as well, including a Lightning Round mode, where matches are both smaller and shorter, as well as fun new game types such as Shake and Bake, where the sun will scorch you at intervals unless you take cover, and Golden Crowbar, where you can seek the titular item which opens up a crate containing a chainsaw.

New weapons and traps have also been added, including a pike, yari, pitchfork, camp hatchet, survival axe, steel caltrops, and steel punji sticks. And if that weren’t enough, The Culling now features a new XP and leveling system, along with new taunts, victory poses, and clothing and item skins.


The Culling has a real chance of turning around the virtual titanic with this massive new update. I’ve experienced only a couple of niggling glitches, but overall found the new updated game a ton of fun, especially if you partner up with a buddy. Give it a shot.

SCORE: 84%

The Culling offers some excellent visuals that suit its grimy dystopian theme. However, you have to have a fast gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:


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