Attention zombie fans! Your fix has finally arrived! Project Zomboid is an RPG-style, sandbox survival game that puts players in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. In this new indie game, players will confront zombies, as well as themselves, as they take the stand against the grim odds of survival.
In Project Zomboid, players take control of Bob Smith, an ordinary man faced with extraordinary trials. Sadly, Bob is destined to die, but when and how he dies is all up to you as the player. NPCs that are met throughout Bob’s journey will give him quests, companionship, and even teach him a thing or two. Bob is faced with a long and dangerous adventure ahead of him, but his biggest dilemma is protecting the ones he loves against the evil that has consumed the world he once knew.
When the story begins, Bob is standing next to his wife, Kate, who has suffered a severe injury to her leg when fleeing a mob of zombies. The city in which they reside in has been ravaged by a zombie virus. Quarantined from the outside world, the city’s inhabitants are left to waste as they consume eachother alive. It is up to the few survivors to give the fight of their lives to hopefully make it out of this nightmare alive. Bob and Kate are off to a bad start. After a brief conversation between the two, I was given the task to tend to Kate’s wounds. I searched throughout the house until I found a towel and a container of painkillers. I used the crafting menu to tear the towel into eight long strips, which I then used one as a tourniquet for Kate’s wound. After popping a few pills in Kate’s mouth, I put Bob to sleep and continued my adventure when he awoke the next morning.
I went out to the shed in the backyard and found some nails, plywood, and a hammer. When I returned to Kate, I made the entire house zombie-proof by boarding up the windows and doors. After I boarded up the house and made it into an absolute fortress, I set out into the town to find some food. I went to the house next door and upon cautious entry into the building, I was confronted by my first hungry zombie. With my hammer equipped, I let a couple swings fly before his head exploded into a fury of chunky gore. I searched looted the house of some canned goods and quckly ran home before any more zombies arrived.
Keep in mind that every action has a consequence, especially in Project Zomboid. The game will adapt to every move and decision the players make. The same scenario can be played out in various ways, based on player interactions with the game. The story is whatever you make of it. Die as a hero or die as a coward, the choice is yours. I died two times in the next portion of the game. Every time I played the very same scenario, my actions had a tremendous effect on the conclusion. My mission was simple, make a pot of soup for Kate. Unfortunately, the task was not as easy as it sounds. It took me three tries before I got the outcome I was satisfied with. What happened is as follows:
- Scenario One: With my looted goods in the inventory, I went into the kitchen to fix a pot of soup. I combined a pot, a can opener, and a can of soup to create my dinner. I put the soup in the oven and turned it on. I was suddenly interrupted by Kate, who was in the bedroom upstairs. She informed me of a broadcast coming from the radio. I ran upstairs and listened to the broadcast about other survivors and the carnage that was taking place throughout the city. After the broadcast concluded, Kate made a comment along the lines of “I smell something burning, did you turn off the oven?” Amazed by my stupidity, I scrambled down the staircase only to find out that the kitchen was engulfed in flames. I rushed back to Kate, who was completely immobilized by her wound, and began to drag her down the staircase and toward the door leading outside. I equipped my hammer and pried the wooden planks off the doorway. I opened the door and was immediately bombarded by a hoard of zombies. I tried to drag her away with me, but Kate was snatched out of my hands and consumed alive by the cluster of brain-hungry monsters. Confused and shocked, I made my way to the other doorway leading to the backyard. When exiting the house, I was caught ablaze by the roaring fire that i so foolishly started. I spent the next 30 chaotic seconds running throughout the backyard dodging the multitude of zombies before I fell to my death.
- Scenario Two: This time I decided that I would not make the same mistake twice and cook the soup how my momma taught me. After crafting the soup, I put it into the over for no more than a few seconds and then placed it into my inventory. Satisfied that I did everything by the book, I casually strolled upstairs to listen to the broadcast with Kate. Whiles listening to the radio, I did a quick scan of the house and noticed that something was out of place. I failed to barricade the downstairs door! Just as I realized that I left it without a board for insurance, the door opened up and an unknown person, or thing, entered my “fortress.” I opened the bedroom door to investigate and just as I stepped into the hallway, I was staring down the barrel of a shotgun with a not-so-pleasant man at the other end. We conversed for a bit before he demanded that I bring him to Kate. When we entered the room, the man informed me that he was going to kill Kate and then he started to count down from ten. Overwhelmed with emotions, I rushed the man and soon met my fate as he pulled the trigger, leaving my cranium in pieces.
- Scenario Three: Taking my previous mistakes into account, I devised a plan that would get me through this disaster. I made my soup, went upstairs, but this time I did not go into the bedroom. I figured that I would hide and, when the time was right, sneak up on our shotgun-wielding friend and let him get the receiving end of my hammer. Hiding in a nearby bedroom, I waited for the man to enter the house and make his way into Kate’s bedroom. During a dialogue between the two of them, I set my plan into action. I charged out of my hiding place and into the bedroom to stealthily dispose of the man. I swiftly cracked him in the back of the head before he fell to his bloody death.
Following the incident with the crazy dude, I was free to loot, craft, and kill as I made my way through the mayhem that has overrun the city. I constantly found myself searching through the labyrinth of streets, alleys, and buildings to find items that will later be useful. While exploring, it is important to have an escape route in every situation. A building without a back door can turn into a deathtrap when the hoards come a knock’n. Though the zombies in Project Zomboid are not all that fast, they approach from all angles and they come in large quantities. When a mass of blood thirsty minions is approaching, fighting is a last resort. The best thing to do is run!
It will take approximately six hours of play time for players to go through a month in the game. As the story progresses, new events will take place that will create a new level of challenges for players to endure. When the surrounding cities become infected, the infected occupants will eventually find their way to your front doorstep. Once players reach a month of survival, the power station that provides the electricity to the city will be powered down, putting players in the dark with no means of electricity. Players will then have new priorities and new goals as their stockpile of goods begins to diminish and they are forced to go out into the ever-changing environment to meet their maker.
Surviving isn’t just about blowing zombie’s heads off. Depression, starvation, trust issues, loneliness, illness, insanity. These are just some of the things you have to deal with in Project Zomboid.—Project Zomboid Admin
The city is absolutely enormous , without surprise, the developers plan to add more environments as they progress into further versions of the game. Throughout the city are countless buildings that were once gun shops, markets, pharmacies, homes, bars, etc. Each and every one of these buildings can be scouted and relieved of the goods that inhabit it. Players can also make any building their own by boarding up the doors and windows, creating a safe haven from the zombies roaming the area outside. Be warned though, the buildings can also be home of some very unpleasant tenants.
The developers of Project Zomboid have gone great lengths to build a game that captures what life would be like in a post-apocalyptic environment. Everything from the surrounding world to the dwindling supply of goods, players are immersed in a world that has been torn apart by disaster. A concept of the game that is particularly interesting is the emotional state of the characters and how the immediate circumstances effect them. For instance, when the players encounter a large cluster of zombies or a very traumatic incident, Bob will react accordingly. He will deal with stress, exhaustion, paranoia, and depression that will change through various levels of severity. Once affected by the emotions, players will have temporary disadvantages such as a decrease in accuracy or fatigue. This can potentially be life threatening when running from a pack of enemies. When overwhelmed with emotion, there are ways to cope. Popping pills, drowning away sorrows with a bottle of whiskey, or smoking a cigarette can alter the mental state, but a temporary escape from reality may turn into a nasty habit. Insanity, starvation, trust issues, and loneliness are all important factors that can (better yet, will) bear quite a toll on the players as they advance trough their struggles to survive.
Project Zomboid includes a “Line Of Sight” feature that will replicate the character’s situational awareness as it would in a real-life setting. If you were to stand close to your window and take a view outside, you will have a broad range of view. Now step back from your window and move left and right. You will notice that while doing this, your view will change accordingly. Project Zomboid has taken this information into account and added it into the game. Players will notice that when they stand near windows or openings, their view of the other side will differ from where they are standing in relation to the window. Basically if you would not be able to see something in reality, you would not be able to see it in a similar gameplay setting. In most games of this genre, players will are able to see a full 360 view of the enemies surrounding the character. In Project Zomboid, characters will only become aware of what is lurking behind them when the creature is in very close proximity. In essence, players will have a realistic view of what is in front of them. Leaving your back exposed can potentially lead to a fatal surprise. Keep this in mind when roaming and don’t be afraid to check over your shoulders. View can also be affected by lighting and substance abuse, so for goodness sake, try to avoid the dark alleys while on a drunken rampage! Take note that all of these features also apply to the zombies.
As it would in real life, intangible aspects such as light and loud sounds will provoke some curiosity. When using a firearm, players have to keep in mind that the percussion of the gunshot will attract the zombies that are in earshot away. With this as an extremely important factor when engaging enemies, players have to balance whether or not the threat is severe enough to bring such attention upon themselves. Sources of light, such as fires, will also bring in the hoards of zombies. When I caught my house on fire, for example, I was ambushed by the congregation of enemies waiting for me outside. Standing against a group of zombies can prove to be an enormous challenge, so a strategic and careful approach to an issue is crucial.
Though it is still in the pre-development stages, Project Zomboid will eventually feature a multiplayer experience that allows players to group up with friends online. Surviving along side a buddy can has its ups and downs and will definitely be an interesting feature when the multiplayer mode is released. With more people present, more supplies are needed to sustain life within the partnership. Since supplies are limited as they are, scavenging for them will be quite the chore with a larger group. I am sure this mode will call for some good ol’fashioned alliances and betrayals as well. Not satisfied how Joey handles business? Did he leave the door open for all the zombies to come into your fortress you worked so hard to maintain? Joey can be “dealt with” and no one will ever know. Just tell him to go fetch a bag of potato chips at the market. When he returns with a gang of zombies trailing behind him, he will be helpless when he finds that the door has been barricaded shut. I predict that a partnership in the game will give players a survival experience like never before.
You’re trapped in a quarantined city with a million zombies. There is no escape. There is no cure. The end is coming, so get used to it.—Project Zomboid Admin
The crafting in the game is extremely creative and complex and allows players to construct items that would put Macguyver to shame. A little tinkering is in order when dealing with the crafting interface. While experimenting with the crafting menu, I placed a baseball bat, nails, and a hammer in the slots to make a spiked bat that deals a hefty load of damage when it is slammed into the head of some sorry zombie. It is fun and satisfying to create weapons and objects that can serve as great assets in Project Zomboid.
Project Zomboid has very user friendly controls that are simple, and also very organized. Similar to practically every other PC/Mac game, the character can be moved with the “W,S,A,D” keys. Featured on the game interface is a four-point arrow that can be clicked to alter player movement between diagonal and horizontal/vertical directions. Players can interact with the environment by clicking on the item or object they wish to open or use. The health and inventory menus can be accessed easily by clicking on the appropriate icon on the interface. To use items, simply place the desired item into the “equipped” slots. Once equipped, that item is ready to do some work. Some equipped items will automatically combine themselves with other items to perform a specific task. For instance, when boarding up windows and doors, players need to equip their hammer. With wooden planks and nails in their inventory, all players need to do is grab the wooden planks and click on the desired area they wish to board up. The wooden planks can later be retrieved by grabbing the hammer and clicking on the barricaded door or window. The controls in Project Zomboid certainly have a clever approach, but are easy to navigate by the most unfamiliar gamers.
As they progress through the game, players will be able to improve their characters with new perks and skills that will aid them in different ways. The NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) in the city will teach players new skills such as carpentry, medical training, and even cooking. Once these skills are obtained, players can enhance them as the individual skills are used. To accommodate their unique style of gameplay, players will be able to pick a profession that gives them special perks, depending on the specific profession that was chose.
After a major confrontation with the zombies, players can suffer pretty serious injuries throughout their bodies. The injuries can effect player performance and deal a hefty load on the psyche of the character. The medical interface in the game is an organized view of the human body that has been categorized into the various body parts. So when there has been a serious injury to the left leg, players will simply open up the interface and click on the left leg. From here medications and tourniquets can be applied to treat the wound accordingly. In the game, players are not immune to sickness or disease and can easily be infected with the zombie virus by the slightest scratch. With this as an ever-so-present issue, it is essential that players take extreme caution when using melee against the zombies. One false move can leave poor Bob helpless and roaming the streets with the undead in no time.
As a huge fan of any zombie, post-apocalyptic, and/or survival horror title, I am completely ecstatic about this game. The developers seem to be very motivated and dedicated to deliver the most immersive zombie game to date. Can this be the zombie game we have been waiting for?
Although the game is currently only available as a demo, players are able to experience the basics of the game, leading them to fantasize how amazing the finished product will be upon the official release date. Like other titles such as Minecraft, Project Zomboid will be available for purchase as development proceeds and the game is routinely updated with new features. The game can be purchased now for approximately $8USD, and this will include the completed version and any update between now and when the game is considered “finished”. Project Zomboid looks and, based on the plans of development, sounds to be a very promising game that zombie fans have dreamed about. Check out the official website and download the demo here.
Photos Courtesy of ProjectZomboid.com