Lost and hopefully never found again.
This is it. This is the very worst game I have ever played.
There have been many bad games before Recovery: Search and Rescue. There was last year’s hugely derided Ride to Hell: Retribution, a game which was not only grossly incompetent, but wildly offensive too. However, at least Ride to Hell was laughably bad. It was the kind of game that you would not wish to purchase and play for yourself, but at least you could find some joy in watching a bemused YouTube commentator experience it in a Let’s Play.
On the other hand, Recovery: Search and Rescue is both achingly dull and barely functional, not even offering the thinnest sliver of entertainment to those unfortunate enough to have paid money for it. If Dead Silver's Ride to Hell was a slap in the face to consumers, then developer Excalibur Publishing’s Recovery: Search and Rescue is a kick to our groin using steel toe cap boots.
Recovery places you in the shoes of a ranger at the world’s most lifeless National Park who's tasked with embarking on a series of missions such as “Find a Child’s Red Cap” or “Find a Woman’s Pocket Watch." The Park is a barren wasteland, with only the occasional poorly animated wildlife popping up every now and again in amongst the foliage. While National Parks typically tend to be a vast sea of green and brown and little else, and thus not a very good setting for a videogame in the first place, Recovery’s sandbox setting is the blandest open world I have ever had the displeasure of exploring.
It’s often said that we don’t embrace the Great Outdoors enough, instead choosing to stay in and watch TV or play Call of Duty, and the populace of Recovery’s world is no different. Aside from the odd rescue mission in which you’re tasked with helping out a perfectly motionless man who has collapsed to the ground (yet is still inexplicably smiling), there is not a human to be found in this National Park, and for good reason. Who in their right minds would want to visit this dreary place, with its ugly scenery and distant mountains that have a habit of disappearing in front of your very eyes? In fact, if they ever make a Recovery: Search and Rescue 2, I hope it places me in control of a construction worker building a huge Walmart on top of this ugly shithole.
But Recovery’s aesthetics are the least of its problems. The game also pits you in the role of a dangerously unhealthy park ranger, equipped with an energy meter that steadily depletes even during the simple act of walking. As if the core gameplay wasn't tedious enough, with you doing literally nothing else other than traveling to red circles on the map to forage for a random item, carrying out these tasks while trapped within the body of a man who can’t even run for 10 yards without coming to a halt—thus causing you to fail your mission—is excruciating.
Though you can fill up your ranger’s energy meter by acquiring energy bars at the four huts located on the map by spending experience points, the problem is that the big experience points can only be earned by completing the lengthier missions, which your ranger won’t be able to travel to without running out of energy. As such, I found myself repeating the tutorial mission over and over again just to acquire the experience points in order to buy energy bars so that I could travel to some of the red circles located on the far end of the map. Oh, and did I mention that these red circles have a habit of not appearing, forcing you to abort the mission and start it over again?
However, even the awful execution of its intrinsically terrible concept is somehow not the worst part of Recovery. No, the worst part is that roughly every 10 seconds the screen will freeze for approximately 4 seconds, rendering the game virtually unplayable. Despite having a rig that can run most games on Very High to Ultra, I initially gave Recovery the benefit of the doubt and lowered all the graphics settings until the game was basically little more than a brown smudge on my PC monitor, and yet the frequent freezes persisted. These freezes then somehow become even more frequent when you hop onto the bike the game gives you to travel through its open-world.
Recovery: Search and Rescue has absolutely no redeeming qualities. It’s unfathomable to think that Excalibur Publishing believes that it is worth a solitary penny of the $15 it is currently being sold for on Steam, and that anyone who worked on it believed that they were creating anything other than a barely playable travesty. If 2014 sees the release of a more terrible game than this, I’ll eat every hat I own and hope I never recover.