One of the newest indie games to grace my library, another member of the ever growing, zombie based hoard of games. But what sets this one apart from the rest, and will it have a leg to stand on, or be rotting by the time I’m done with it?
The main aim of this game is simple: Stay alive. You have health, water, food, and sleep gauges that you must keep from falling to zero. Food and water you can scavenge, whether by foraging or hunting, but you can only find rest in certain shelters that provide you with enough coverage that you survive the night. Survive long enough, and you start thinking of escape, and as the story develops you go out in search of certain items to facilitate your departure from a hellish quartet of islands.
Now featuring safe houses in exotic locations.
We’ll start off with this game’s greatest strength, its multiplayer. How to Survive becomes a much more enjoyable experience when shared. You can only play with one other friend, and I cannot help but feel this game could have profited by having 4 player. (If you want to play through the story mode together, it has to be through the same computer.)
Not being able to play through the story mode with someone else over an internet connection is kind of a let down. However, being able to play co-operatively via the same machine is an enjoyable experience, if you do indeed have someone to share it with.
The multiplayer segments consist of eight survival challenges, in which you and your partner must team up in order to escape the island, at a designated evacuation point. You must fight your way there utilising a variety of makeshift weapons, scavenged from whatever you may find. These are fun, and can sometimes be difficult if your team mate is ranged, while you are melee. There is friendly fire. No, It can’t be turned off. Despite the brevity of the challenges, they offer a moderate degree of re-playability, and with iron man mode available, can be challenging enough to keep you playing for hours.
Relax with a spot of fishing.
Story mode is neither commendable nor damnable, and teeters on the edge of becoming mediocre, if not for the final section of the campaign. The tutorial sections can be a little overbearing, but to call them tedious would be an injustice. They are lengthy, and certainly dialogue heavy, which has led to some people refusing to pick up the different segments of the tutorial. Suffice to say, common sense usually dictates what you should and should not do, and with tutorials that tell you to eat, drink and sleep to stay alive you soon leave them very well alone. The shining moment of the campaign is in its final act, and I wont be spoiling it for you. This classic story telling device is buried so deep in-game, I fear that many people won’t endure to reach it.
Interact with the local night-life.
Combat is relatively simple from a PC user’s perspective, click on it until it dies. Ranged combat is normally the way to go, but by using a string of instant kills you can successfully hack through any hoard with a melee weapon. Instant kills in this game are a useful function, and as soon as you initiate one you become immune to other attacks, so use them to your advantage when you can. Ammo is ridiculously plentiful in normal mode, so much so that you will never have to forgo any ranged weapons, and the melee weapons can be beefed up so that you never really have much to fear.
The graphics are pleasant enough, allowing for satisfying gore details to bloom as you chainsaw your way through another hoard. The day and night cycles are well put together, with certain creatures coming out at night to hunt you down. Unfortunately, these creatures lose their bite as soon as you get a flashlight, as they cower and freeze in its beam. One thing I would like to see changed is that your flashlight never runs out of battery. This means once you get one you never have to really fear the pale nocturnal enemies, and I think it would be a tad more engaging if you had to worry about your flashlight too.
Avoid hugs as much as possible.
The in game crafting system is easy to use, and you adapt to the inventory and leveling system with ease. Crafting is relatively simple, with the option to combine items only becoming available when you can actually craft something, which means you’re not stood trying to bash two materials together with no result.
There has been some fuss over similarities to indie game ‘ROAM’, another zombie survival game. However, despite the verbal throw-down, both parties still remain, with ROAM removing a rather inflammatory post towards How to Survive. Suffice to say, I think the zombie theme has been done to death, and any bickering becomes childish over well-used ground. How to Survive and ROAM come with very different feels, with ROAM displaying an urban aesthetic and showcasing barricade creation in order to aid survival. How to Survive shines in it’s multiplayer mode, with a crafting system focus upon weapons and armour, focusing on a rural and removed setting. The two seem very different from unbiased eyes, and ROAM’s hasty finger pointing should not cloud your judgement of this game.
Controls are just as intuitive on the console as it is on the PC. The port is strong in this one.
All in all How to Survive provided me with more hours of fun than some recent triple A titles delivered, with the possibility of even more replay value if friends come into play. If you like survival games with a bit of bite to them, this one will keep you engaged for hours. By no means is it a piece of art, but it’s not a disappointment either. If you’re looking for atmosphere, or a completely engaging story then you might want to look elsewhere, but if you can look past its few faults, it will earn its keep in your library.
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Available on steam for £11.99 http://store.steampowered.com/app/250400/