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Project Zomboid: Preview

When the world ends where will you be? Riding the streets on horseback? Living in a shopping mall? Or throwing old vinyl records at the undead in your garden?

In Project Zomboid you begin the apocalypse by nursing your girlfriend’s broken leg as she sits in bed. You bandage her, you feed her, you talk to her. It may sound straight forward, but throw a lack of food and zombie hordes into the mix, and the stakes escalate somewhat. Should you manage to avoid the undead and secure a tin of soup from the empty homes of your neighbours, the next challenge comes from cooking up a storm without setting fire to the kitchen.

Similar to the Sims, with developer Indie Stone’s retro design, you look down on yourself as you search the drawers for pots and pans, whilst a continuous soundtrack of eerie music underscores this odd cooking sequence. In real life it would take one hell of a bad cook to set soup on fire – it’s a liquid! But in Project Zomboid there are threats around every corner, including flammable soup.

With utter focus on the stove, I failed to notice a fellow survivor entering our home. Unfortunately he wasn’t offering an alliance, a cure, or insight into how this all started. He wanted to rob me and molest my Mrs. As I was forced upstairs, his shotgun pointed at the back of my head, I realised this was one of those rare, ‘What the hell do I do moments, ‘ in gaming. A time when even inaction will result in cataclysmic results. After a tense altercation between the three of us (played out through text bubbles) the intruder’s brains dropped onto the carpet, his shotgun now in my hands.

You can never get comfortable in Project Zomboid. Just when one threat is dealt with the next is seconds away; and in this case at the bottom of the stairs. The undead smelt fresh blood and were coming to feed. Shotgun shells ripped into the progressing horde but made little impact. It was another of those do-or-die moments. The thing is when you die its game over: no restart, no save point, no rewind. Just permanent death. As the horde surrounded the bed on which my girlfriend lay, I did what every horror film hero would do…I retreated down the stairs, onto the street and into the distance. Sorry honey.

The game plays out moment to moment: there isn’t an overarching storyline (as of yet), but simply the task to survive. The next twelve in-game days saw me moving from house to house, evading zombie eyes and accumulating ammo and food. As apples and carrots began to rot, tins of beans were live-saving. I entered a routine: to find a building that suited my needs for shelter, barricade the doors and window, and fill the cupboards with my supplies. Undoubtedly zombies would be attracted by my activity and storm the house, meaning a quick, improvised escape and a search for a new home.

The more you run into the trouble the easier it to deal with it. The combat certainly isn’t Dark Souls, in fact it’s closer to SNES-style combat, left click to hit or shoot, but once you’ve survived your first few encounters you get the hang of it and are able to deal with small groups with an axe or baseball bat. Where the real challenge comes from, was the feeling of loneliness and boredom as the days wore on. As a player I yearned for some variety, some interaction, for an event. Nothing. Just keep finding tins of food to store in my dark kitchen.

Strangely enough this boredom is what may just set Project Zomboid apart from every other zombie game out there. Apocalypse titles are full of high octane challenges and exciting set pieces, but never the time of self-reflection that would surely become oppressive after days and weeks alone.

So it the boredom that killed me as I off down the street firing my shotgun in the air inviting the ghouls. I’d made it to day twelve. I didn’t want to play in this desolate world anymore, and I was going to take as many of the undead with me as I could.

Still in beta stage, Project Zomboid is open to any to try it for free. With promises of roleplaying decisions, levelling and multiple areas to explore in future updates the experience will only grow. One of these updates must be multiplayer. Just as Day Z is attracting crowds of gamers with the promise to experience the end of the world in multiplayer, Project Zomboid would do just as well. So what will I be doing when the apocalypse comes? Trying to find someone to play with.

For more on Project Zomboid check out http://projectzomboid.com

1 Comment

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  1. Rq. says
    August 2, 2012, 11:48 AM

    many thanks! it’s awesome prewiev.

    Reply

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