PREVIEW - Use your braaaaiiiiins, not your brawn!
If, like me, you are a huge fan of zombie lore then you’ll probably find something of interest in Project Zomboid. The game itself is available now as a pre-alpha, in a similar way that Minecraft was available prior to its official release, with constant bug fixes and updates thrown in on a regular basis.
You may be wondering what makes this title different to the countless other zombie related games out there, and I’ll tell you…This isn’t Left 4 Dead, you don’t start the game with a pistol and an Uzi, your task isn’t to take down as many zombies as possible while travelling between 2 points. The best way to describe Project Zomboid is that it’s a zombie apocalypse simulator.
The game itself is played from an isometric perspective, and you control your character through a relatively large game world. (One of the promises from the developers is that this world will continue to increase in size, the size has already increased by 4 times since its original release) The world is broken up in typical sections, residential, retail, forest etc. and your sole task is to survive for as long as possible, which is no easy feat. The game even starts with a small blurb stating “this is the story of how you died.” And you will die, a lot, either after 3 or 4 months of in game time once the water and electric gets cut off and zombies by the thousands pour through your barricades and tear you apart, or after 3 days when you meet a nervous survivor with a shotgun who doesn’t want anything to do with you and thinks you’re going to steal their food, or, 30 seconds after your game starts you could be clearing out a 4th story office building looking for supplies and get a little too close to the open window, and possibly fall out of that very window, bashing your brains out on the pavement below…But, seriously…who would do something like that? (Answer: Me, I blame my over active curiosity)
Surviving is made increasingly difficult with the game’s strict ‘realism’ (I use the term loosely; we are talking about a zombie apocalypse after all.) Your character is a very typical average Joe, so no military training, no degree in zombie defence, he is literally what you would be if a zombie apocalypse would occur (apologies to any military trained zombie defence degree holders reading, you will, of course, be fine)
The real draw for me with this game is the unpredictability that would really come with a situation like this. You could find the best possible place to call home, barricade every door and window and have plenty of food when a group of survivors could raid and take everything, or a group of survivors could turn up and recruit you if you had a skill they needed, or a group of zombies could turn up and bash the barricaded door down and attack you. If this happened you could get torn apart and die, or you could get bitten and escape, only to catch the zombie virus and eventually turn. All this could be happening when the power goes out because the power stations start shutting down. There is literally no end to the different scenarios that could play out, when you come across a new building to clear out do you test out that new shotgun you found and clear the building quickly but at the expense of a mass of zombies following the sound, or do you go through each room stabbing zombies in the head with pencils you’ve picked up from the stationary store and risk getting closer to the zombies but taking them down quietly?
I could go on all day with these different scenarios or different play styles but I’ll let you find your own way to play because it really is half the fun.
At this time there are 2 ways to play, a sandbox mode and a story mode. The sandbox mode is just a case of survival, find yourself a place, some food and some weapons and go at it from whatever way you like. The story mode is what it sounds like, you follow a specific plot and at this time there is just the one story, however there are many user created stories that can be downloaded and added. (Depending on which version you get the story mode can be quite buggy and broken, the devs are working on it but I think they’re trying to tighten up the games features and mechanics in sandbox before putting too much time into story mode, which to me makes sense, I’d much rather have a game that plays really well first, and stories added to it later on)
Since I started playing this game and telling people what I thought of it almost everyone had the same question, “does it have multiplayer?” and the simple answer at this stage is, no.
I admit, a game like this would have fantastic potential as a multiplayer game but at the moment the devs are concentrating on getting everything they can right with the single player aspect of the game before tacking on a potentially broken multiplayer game, which again is something I agree with. They’ve said multiplayer will happen eventually, but basically it’s just a matter of being patient and enjoying the game as it is now, which is something you can easily do and I recommend you give it a try!