Fear & Hunger Beginner’s Guide and Tips
What Fear & Hunger is, some explanation of mechanics and how things work, and hope to serve at least as a good launching point, with maybe some useful references.
As a warning upfront, Fear & Hunger is a survival horror game with lots of adult content. It’s possible to come for the adult content but tolerate the survival horror, or to come for the survival horror but tolerate the adult content, but your enjoyment of the game, while pixelated, does rely on how much you tolerate or enjoy those 3 things. There will be blood, there will be prehensile wangs, there will be a child character that has no plot armor or protections besides your own choices, self-harm actions, drug use, gore, cannibalism, etc. For a general idea of the content shown, Berserk is a good reference. If you’re not familiar with that, something like Game of Thrones. Do not play this expecting a Halo 3 M rating. “Anything goes” helps with the horror and grimdark feel but don’t expect many discretion shots or kid gloves.
On the gameplay side, it’s a survival horror rogue-lite. You’re going to fail repeatedly. Sometimes it’ll be from your end, a skill issue, sometimes a game mechanic will happen at the worst possible time, there are limited saves, there’s a greater than 1% chance a crash can occur, and while playing on anything besides the lowest difficulty, you might have a perfect multiple hour runs but be forced to restart solely because you run out of torches and the screen goes jet black in a complicated cave system.
The enjoyment of Fear & Hunger is very similar to a Souls game. At first and for some time it will be incredibly difficult and annoying, you will probably get very unhappy more than once, and you might even regret getting it early on. However, if you stick with it, if you learn (generally) what to do, (generally) what not to do, and how to minimize luck’s involvement, if you get immersed in the world, lore, and art, and learn how to get the most out of your inventory, it steadily gets more and more fun and gives a great feeling of personal achievement. To maximize enjoyment, remember that you will fail over and over and over again, but you only lose if you give up, and each run is a learning experience you take with you, not a waste of time.
With this guide, my primary goal is to give newer players as good a fighting chance as possible, to make the game more approachable, and for myself to remember general notes, while it’s fresh on my mind. Some guides are already available, and they’re helpful, no insult meant, but they’re mostly focused on people with a pretty good amount of experience ready to speedrun straight through the thicket and place 4 tactically placed blood portals, etc. As a warning I’ll probably not use screenshots, a good chunk because I’m lazy, but also because there are a lot of dangers and I’m not sure about Steam’s rules on dangly bits screenshots every 5 seconds, and I’m far too lazy to censor every single image as well beforehand. I will try to be as detailed as possible to make up for it, however. Also, many locations and items are semi-randomized, so you will have to do some stuff differently depending on your unique area designs.
So anyway, starting from the ground up…
Difficulty options are Fear & Hunger, Terror & Starvation, Hard Mode, and an unlockable meme mode. I’ll abbreviate from here on. I highly recommend sticking to T&S or higher. It adds in a lot of small extra features and threats, an end-game boss, and is the baseline for Hard Mode, which is the ultimate challenge of the game with perma death, no extra party members, and allows you to get each character’s ending. It is more challenging but most of the additions are fair and add spice to the game. The most annoying feature, although it’s also more immersive and can also make it spookier, is the addition of lighting levels. Where on the easiest mode you always can kinda see what’s there no matter what, on T&S or higher, there’s lit, low visibility, and pitch black with no vision. You can still move around and even progress, but you have no visual, so torches and torch management become useful to the point of being its own resource meter besides Hunger and mind.
Generally however, if you really like the game and want to play it long term I recommend sticking to T&S minimum to learn the base ruleset for more content and in case you ever want to attempt hard. It’s up to you, but imo F&H mode isn’t easier to the point of being worth sacrificing features. The primary thing is learning how stuff functions, don’t be afraid of difficulty settings besides Hard Mode, primarily because of perma death and party restriction.
Starting off, we have “Mercenary”, the real name Cahara.
Cahara is a thief, or, well, a fighter/thief. I highly recommend he begin learning the game, in particular with the intro choices
- “Become a burglar.”
- “Abandon your comrades.”
- “Run straight for your mission.”
This controls what your character starts with and allows him to start with lockpicking, an increased success rate for fleeing, and increased movement speed on the map. Lockpicking is very handy, particularly when starting out. Most zones have a door/doors that are locked and hold either several items or hinder progress. Normally you have to find either Small Keys or quest items to unlock them, Red Vials to burn the lock off, or have to “fight” the door and have your party do a set amount of damage with 1 turn each to destroy the door outright. Lockpicking bypasses the majority of these, with only a set few not having that option. Pay attention to where you find small keys and vials while playing with lockpicking to learn how to get by with other characters and skills.
On top of that, increased success for fleeing is an incredibly boring but incredibly useful skill. With nearly every enemy having some form of long-term status effect attacks and usually no rewards, some surprise encounters, and with how well it synergizes with other abilities he has and techniques you can do, it makes Cahara one of the smoothest starting characters and one of the least frustrating. Later on, he can also learn to steal, which is very risky but can get you decent items if you can minimize the risk of enemies attacking or killing them outright afterward. He also can learn En Guarde, which is one of the most fun, useful, and simple abilities available; while on the field with it learned, you press shift, and he pulls out a weapon. Run into an enemy while the weapon is out and you get an entire round free to attack. You can combine this with fleeing to attack a round for free and then flee, then shift and run at the enemy again, for particularly dangerous encounters.
Finally, we have Dash. Dash is honestly one of the main things that’s a bit of an obvious problem; it’s near mandatory. The sequel addressed this, however, in this game, you always want to dash, on every main character. Each character has the option to start with it, however, it requires sacrifices in other skills for some, like Enki, which makes the beginning or longer feel worse than it should, and reduces variety. At the end of the day though it’s all good, just make sure you have a dash. You have multiple resource bars ticking down at all times, enemies have different speeds, and you will sometimes have to backtrack or cover large distances within a time limit. It starts off useful and gets more and more useful the longer the game goes on and the more resources you’re having to use; you really don’t want to have to use double the number of resources for 4 party members moving long distances and be unable to easily maneuver around enemies.
Next, we have “Knight”, the real name D’arce. The tackiest starting option. Her first choice gives you a fast stance or defensive stance, I recommend a fast stance, “Quickly stepped aside and dodged it.”
I do so because early on, like solo, when you use a fast stance you get another turn at the end of your round, defence doesn’t, which leaves you vulnerable to enemies attacking at full strength. Defense stance is good but it’s good later on or in the endgame, where you have methods to focus attacks on her, and other party members to attack limbs or heal her. On the next choice, choose “Break ties with your family and run away.” this leads to learning Dash. Next, I recommend “Spearhead the coming assault.” solely because you get arm guards. Some of the most common enemies can dismember your arms by the first turn. Arm guards prevent this. You want these, particularly when she has less chance to flee. Finally, choose “Rush straight after him.” to learn Dash.
She can eventually learn leg sweep and counter, both good but mostly when you have more party members. Leg sweep, if it hits, can damage both legs of enemies leaving them vulnerable the next turn, and counter, well, counters whenever an attack hits her. Only recommend it when you have defenses and healing and know what enemies are capable of. Overall, she’s the “Ole Bessie”. Starts off ok, and gets better as the game progresses. With guaranteed skills like fast stance, even alone late in the game, as long as she has enough defenses she can easily get a high crit chance and wreck face really well. But… she’s not as good at learning the game, and her start isn’t particularly noteworthy in letting her gain exclusive stuff. Bluntly, unless you like the character a lot, I recommend not playing as her, instead, if you like her, prioritize her as a party member. (All characters can be acquired as optional party members throughout the game). She starts off than with a fast stance and defensive stance, which is troublesome to get to but not to recruit afterward, and you can tailor your starting character to another role. One final note on her is that another story important party member starts with a leg sweep, and her skills have a high chance of appearing from scrolls off bookshelves. While some like fast Stances can be used just as well by Cahara or Outlander as her, imo she’s the most replaceable of the main cast. She’s also the easiest of them to recruit.
Next, “Dark priest”, real name Enki, something like a jack of all trades/ red mage. I recommend him only when you’re comfortable with the game, he has equipment limitations, his start, if you get dash, is rough, and he focuses on magic but likely doesn’t start with direct damage spells which require you to know where to go to boost affinity with gods to gain the privilege to learn them, and until then he’s weak in combat, can’t flee as well, and has none of the utility of Outlander. He is distinctly “the mage” of the group however, and is a solid pick for a long-term character because “spank n tankers” are very common, mages far less so. He begins with counter magic, which tbh information is limited about. However it’s an attempt to undo magic, known examples are in encounters with ghouls, counter magic insta kills them, dispelling the necromancy. He can dispel some enchantments. It’s something you just have to kind of experiment with yourself, if anyone knows examples feel free to share them. It’s very risky to experiment with it not knowing what it can and can’t do, and research seems to be minimal. Most likely, however, it’s just a “neat” starting skill. The primary draw of him is his ability to learn Greater Blood Magic, which makes blood magic straight up better and/or cheaper. He *can* start off with necromancy, which allows you to raise skeletons or ghouls as semi-disposable party members, or pyromancy trick, which is your standard fireball, which can be aimed at the heads of many enemies for better accuracy than melee weapons for a insta kill (although it’s been nerfed since and accuracy is something like 70%, which makes it risky and not as good of an “Enki solos the beginning areas” spell). But if you want Dash… congrats, here’s a book of advanced crafting and the ability to talk to cockroaches that will most likely be rendered completely useless a choice later, and the ability to make an enemy type far later chill out which is *ok*. Your choices to do so are “Accept your defeat” “Quietly leave and run away without revenge” “Pray to God of the Depths” and “Rush straight after him”. An explanation is needed for the prayer; each one boosts affinity for a god to the max. This means you can get a spell of your choice early on in exploration. However, the god of the depths is the best choice, because otherwise, the dark priest cannot max it, because the final level of affinity requires killing the dark priest. However, the ability to talk to bugs’ main benefit is progressing the god of the depths affinity, which leads to Enki’s start feeling really awful.
Character Selection Part 2
Finally, Outlander, real name Ragnvaldr. I recommend starting with a bow, weapons and shields are easy to find, some being guaranteed, while you can go a great amount of time or even a playthrough without normally getting a basic bow, which also allows you to fire iron arrows on the field to wound enemies outside of combat. Don’t worry, they’re not required to use a bow in combat, they just function as a handy “bonus” consumable feature. Next up, “devour” or “don’t give in”. This is honestly just a choice between 2 skills that can be ok but aren’t too super. Devour lets you consume some enemy corpses to reduce your hunger, but not all, and some enemy types are poisonous to eat. I can’t find the knowledge of what’s safe, if anybody would like to share feel free to do so. Eventually, I might experiment myself and post results but don’t hold me to it. Anything that helps a resource meter is great but it’s a bit too random. Don’t give in give bloodlust, which is another skill that is better with a party. For a mind cost you get an attack boost, however, you target randomly. You might hit a good part, you might hit a bad part, or the only one you didn’t need to hit, but you at least need a party that can make sure dangerous limbs are taken down, so his powerful attacks are able to be used safely. It also has a mind cost, however, so it limits use even further, especially when that mind could be used for damage or healing spells. So imo they’re both kinda bad, but devour’s probably the better option. You can always learn bloodlust later, or get another skill or spell instead.
Next, we have one of the dumbest creation choices that’s a blatant beginner trap. “Take souvenirs from Vinland” should not be chosen. Ever. Not only do you lose Dash, but if you choose to take souvenirs, you do a coin flip. If it succeeds, you get a soul stone. This is not a bad thing, each soul stone can be used later to learn skills, spells, or upgrade weapons, and they’re fairly limited. BUT. If you fail, you still get a soul stone… and you also get Panophobia. I’ll explain the fear system within a few sections, but Panophobia is one of the most crippling things in the game besides becoming a potato. You do not want it at all unless you are doing a challenge run. To give a quick explanation, you risk learning one extra skill or spell for doing less damage and taking more damage to nearly everything in the entire game. Next choose “Rush straight after him.” for Dash. Ragnvaldr can eventually also learn war cry, a taunt (all enemies target him), and marksmanship, which gives a chance to insta kill some foes when you use iron arrows on the field.
Overall, Cahara is the most beginner friendly while also having skills good when you learn it, D’arce and Ragnvaldr are a bit harder, but have their uses, and Enki has the roughest start but is the best option very long term as a mage when you have knowledge of the game. They can all get the job done, and if you like one or their design there’s nothing stopping you from starting them and learning with them, just don’t be afraid of needing to learn and solve problems with their skill sets.
Starting Out – Fear
Here on, I’ll be making references based on T&S mode to simplify. Thank you for your understanding.
As you begin the game, the very first thing I recommend checking is your fear. Each character has one, randomized. It is on the menu, underneath your name. These can be:
- Necrophobia – Fear of death, dead and corpses.
- Nosophobia – Fear of Life-threatening diseases
- Phasmophobia – Fear of ghosts and ghastly figures.
- Rhabdophobia – Fear of magic and otherworldly powers.
- Erotophobia – Fear of sex and genitals.
- Zoophobia – Fear of animals and beasts.
- Teratophobia – Fear of monsters and malformations.
- (Gained from other causes besides start (excluding outlander)) Panophobia – Fear of everything.
These are, essentially, forced game long debuffs to an enemy type. You deal less damage and take more from enemies it lines up with. I can’t find information on specifics but it’s not too difficult to see yourself, although I’m unsure if some enemies would match multiple. I’d assume so but not for sure. This is mostly something you just have to deal with; however, I recommend a couple things. I personally recommend rerolling if you get Erotophobia. Some of the most common, and also some of the most dangerous enemies have wangers out. Each category has something you really would rather not deal with, but Erotophobia, for me, is the surest way to maximize your chances of getting past the early-mid game, and to maximize your chances for survival until you reach equipment and skills that can overpower your debuff. There is one other thing, but it may require a bit of cheese. Party members also have random fears, and I highly recommend making sure each member at least has a unique one. It’s not the end of the world if so, but say for an extreme example your entire party had the same fear. If an enemy matches it, your entire party would deal less damage and take more. If your entire party has a unique fear, then one may be debuffed, but the others can pick up the slack and/or support the vulnerable member. This is primarily important to ensure you do enough damage to sever limbs; sword hands for instance. The debuff can make the difference between it or not, which can make the difference between losing your own arm or not.
Starting Out – Resource Bars
After your fear, we have your 3 resource bars; Hunger, Body (Hp) and Mind.
To minimize confusion or worry, it’s easiest to think of them mostly as soft “time limits”. Bluntly, the more you find yourself having to worry about them, the more you’re doing wrong. Or rather, they’re not something to worry about as long as you are moving promptly zone to zone. Of course, when learning the game or exploring, you probably won’t. This is part of the learning process, but they’re less scary than they look.
Starting with hunger, I highly recommend one thing in particular; learning or testing the food restore amounts, and using them appropriately. There is a problem with this though, it does require your discretion. The issue with waiting, sometimes until you’re at 87 hunger, is that each time you get a “hungry” debuff, your hp is cut slightly until fed. This part is ok. With at least 1 stack of the debuff, your damage is halved. This is not ok. The solution to this problem, ideally, is when exploring, to avoid all combat, wait until your characters are hungry enough, then feed them. However, for bosses, or for area clearing, or tough fights, it’s in your best interest to feed them until they no longer have the hungry status effect before fighting. (Keeping in mind even when they’re fed enough at once it can take a few seconds in the game to recover from it). This is something that has to be up to the player, their party, and their resources.
Some tips to deal with hunger are also to only use, or to use first, food items that are not involved in crafting dishes (which amplify their hunger restore a great deal) or cause illness or worms (which almost assuredly harm more than help, and if you get worms, will increase the hunger drain by double unless cured). These are:
- Moldy bread – 30 (yes, really, trust me my brother)
- Cheese – 7
- Salami – 30
- Arm – 30 (Eat the limbs and think of England)
- Leg – 30
- Blueish arm – 30
- Blueish leg – 30
In the area north of the start, you can find a stove you can light with a tinderbox. This will be your point to return to for grilling steaks. You may also find a recipe book from bookshelves, you use this by going into the crafting menu from anywhere, not the stove. These will serve as the nukes of hunger. There are other methods, like devour and the wolfmask cult hidden deep in the mines, but generally these are your weapons against hunger. Although, in the area you can find Moonless, past the prison and the hole, you can find a chained up, leaky thing. Filling glass vials with it can restore 30 hunger.
Next, Mind. Mind is sanity. You want to keep it above 50 generally. It serves double duty as your mp or energy, for some skills or spells. Low sanity can lead to party members leaving, and new fears, but it also drains fairly slowly. Make sure you limit spell usage to particularly deadly or risky encounters, when you need them, or when you have items or accessories that restore it, and it shouldn’t be too bad. You will most likely have problems with hunger before your mind. Mind restoration items are more straightforward than hunger, just make sure you don’t overkill restore. The only real item that does this is when using the pipe, make sure you save opium, if you find any, for emergencies. It restores 100. Also of note, if you find elixirs of mind, and fancy being a good person helping characters out, save at least one of them, it’s required to restore the mind of one of Buckman’s companions. One other thing for the mind, if you find any glass vials and are having issues with them, go to the basement, where the Manebas (human jellyfish) are. In that area, you’ll find casks and can fill vials with them. The casks are limited but each use restores 40, and there are several casks. It’s good to keep in mind.
An item of note is the sorcerer’s stone ring, 10 minds every turn.
Hp is the fairly obvious, the fastest way to a game over, although odds are high you’ll probably lose limbs before full hp loss. Healing is fairly rare though, of note
- Blue Vials – 20
- Light Blue Vial – 64 or so
- Elixir of Body – 64 or so
- Although, other items of note are
- Water Vial – stops burning, small recovery
- White Vial – cures poison
- Cloth Fragment – stops bleeding
- green herb – cures infections
You also restore health of your party to full by going to the bunny mask cult, hidden to the left in the courtyard where the white statue, a dagger, and if you don’t choose him, you meet the Outlander. You “”participate”” by talking to the lone dude (poor guy, and poor me) The first “”participation”” is “free”. Free meaning you don’t become an addict basically. Afterward, each time is a coinflip. You can actually cheese this by saving somewhere beforehand, whether you do this is up to you. In addition, the wolf cult works this way too, except there’s also a cannibal chick this time, and it’s far harder to get to safely.
There is one other primary resource: light. Can’t see, can’t easily explore. Can’t explore, can’t get light, can’t see. On T&S or higher, light can go down to jet black, this means you always want to keep one torch if at all possible. This sounds very annoying, and is, however the tactics to deal with it is to only use them when necessary; avoid using them in lit areas or low light areas. You will obtain tinderboxes throughout the game; they can light up torches, braziers or campfires. These can be limited or common based on rng, I recommend only using these on areas where otherwise it would be pitch black. A easy way of telling this, if you already have a torch out, is to walk away and watch the light. If the area near a unlit brazier etc becomes black when you walk away, it’s a good idea to light it, particularly for more important or travelled areas. If it’s just low visibility, it’s best to just squint a bit tbh lol.
Of note, if you say, have only one torch, and light it, as long as you’re looting stuff you haven’t before, rng seems to highly favor giving you another one. So as long as you’re being prompt and minimize backtracking, it’s generally not an issue. It’s a good idea however to keep at least one stick, cloth and tinderbox to craft a torch. Preferably more. Don’t keep a surplus of crafted torches, only keep one if you can help it, but keep the ingredients to craft another for emergencies.