Being shipwrecked is no picnic... unless you're shipwrecked on an island with the richest sea life and most bountiful forests on earth, in which case you'll be dining outdoors on fresh abalone, oysters, crabs, coconuts, vegetables, wild herbs and maybe even the occasional bit of sashimi. Very much like the kind of picnic you'd dream of at home, if you were rich enough to afford your own private chef.
Unfortunately for the young castaways in this game, their calorific requirements are such that even the heartiest meal leaves them with rumbling stomachs just a couple of hours later. And on this most energy-sapping of islands, a feeling of mild hunger in the afternoon means certain death by the evening, should you fail to whip up some gourmet bush tucker in time.
Desert island dorks
You play Amy or Jack, washed up after a boat catastrophe and reduced to scavenging for exotic produce. Regardless of which character you choose, your co-strandee is all but helpless. While you take care of the Ray Mears stuff, like making tools, lighting fires and hunting animals, you do so with the knowledge that you've got a terrible burden waiting back at the cave you now call home.
Despite the cave being conveniently sited next to a crystal-clear stream, your partner doesn't have the common sense to take a drink if he or she is feeling thirsty. Instead, bubbles of psychic empathy pop up over the main character's head, warning you that you might return after a foraging expedition to find the mummified husk of a person too dumb to realise that the nagging pain in his belly was called dehydration and the cure was rushing past his front door at 10,000 litres per second.
We chose Jack, initially, because we thought he'd have a bit more stamina on those long trips into the mountains, but after he keeled over on only his second evening (to be fair, he gave us five minutes warning that he was about to die) we had a go with Amy.
She almost didn't do much better, thanks to being bitten in the face by a giant spider and eating a dish of poisonous mushrooms prepared by the enterprising Jack, but after that early scare she proved to be no more or less competent than the boy.
One sandwich short
To roam any decent distance, you have to pack a lunch which takes ages to prepare and carries no guarantee of filling the dreaded hunger meter. That's the one area where the stay-at-home partner can actually help. You can spend ages combing the beach for tiny morsels, but persuade Jack to venture out on a shopping trip and he'll return laden with fish. We tried following him to see where he went, but he vanishes the moment he steps out of the cave.
Belly and backpack stuffed with seafood, you can wander off to check out the meat aisle, deeper into the jungle. Your strength meter ticks away with every step, triggering range-induced panic when you take a wrong turn. Certain places can only be reached if you take your Liability with you, and when you start slowing down through exhaustion too far from a watering hole (there aren't many), death is inevitable.
Later, as you approach self sufficiency, you'll have furniture for the cave and animals to take care of. You'll also get ever closer to finding a way out of your tropical torment, but if you survive for that long then your mind may well be irrevocably shattered and you won't want to leave. As the rescue ship cruises past, you'll be hunkered up in your cave, bearded and wild, waiting for civilisation to hurry on by. Jack won't be in such great shape, either.