The first time I throw down a cannister of GROB, I’m not entirely sure what it is. As it explodes into a satisfying puddle of goo, the exotic creatures around me – my scanner tells me they’re Pufferbirds and they “like, love me”: it’s already reciprocal – screech a joyful, if alien, screech and waddle straight to it. Awed, I waddle right after them.
Moments later, their little bodies start contorting and their cheerful chirps fade. With dawning horror, I realise I’ve mindlessly thrown down this unspecified foodstuff without knowing anything about it – even though I’m playing a game with the word “savage” baked right into the title – noticing for the first time it’s labelled “bait” in my inventory. It’s too late for recriminations, though, isn’t it? These poor creatures are jitter-bugging their final death throes. I’ll be branded a Pufferbird Poisoner, I think. The Avicide Assassin. Spare me no leniency, I’ll wail, as they drag me from the dock. Don’t let me-
The convulsion ends in an obnoxiously noisy fart and a cloud of blue atoms spills out from beneath the Pufferbird’s backside. Its neighbour swiftly follows it up with a clamorous bottom-burp of its own. There’s another trouser toot from the corner of the cave – I hadn’t even spotted that one – and the faint luminosity of untapped atoms now presses softly against the dark walls of the cavern. I step cautiously towards them, still wary of upsetting the fowl, and gather my first resource – carbon – of the game.