Project Zomboid Might Be the Zombie Apocalypse We’ve Been Waiting For
So you maybe you haven’t heard of Project Zomboid. Or maybe you have. Have you? Anyways, this is you hearing about Project Zomboid, a game that you should be interested in and not just because I told you to be.
The video game industry is no stranger to the zombie apocalypse, but there’s usually something a little off about how it’s approached. If you’ve ever had a conversation with someone about how they would take on the zombie apocalypse they would probably tell you about where they would hole up, the supplies they would gather or maybe the most best people to bring along. They might talk about fortifying the local supermarket, or escaping to an isolated island. How they’d stave off the madness. How they would avoid infection. How they would survive. When it comes to video games, however, the question that’s asked is a little different and it usually boils down to “How many zombies can you kill? In how many ways?”
Project Zomboid is a game in ongoing development that understands that the zombie apocalypse is more than an excuse for enemy hordes. Before you’re even into the game proper (of which but a demo exists) you’re told that “these are the end-times. There was no hope of survival. This is how you died.”
It sets the stage and the tone of the following perfectly: this isn’t a game that you beat. There’s no salvation and there is no end-game. There’s only living as long as you can before it becomes clear that you’re dead. It is the apocalypse, after all.
The gameplay itself is in the form of an isometric strategy sort of setup- you walk about with WASD and interact with the world using the mouse. The first thing available is a tutorial of sorts, in which you tend to the wounds of your injured and immobile wife and are introduced into basic crafting, scavenging and combat, as well as a little taste of the psychological toll that comes along with non-player characters.
My first time through I accidentally burn my house down cooking soup. I begin to drag my wife down the stairs at an agonizing pace as fire springs up all around, and when we finally make it to the foyer I dash forward to open the door, throwing caution to the wind. The horde stumbles in and takes us both apart.
My second time through I manage to avoid the fire but am ambushed by a neighbor with a shotgun, desperate for supplies. I’m quick with my hammer. He’s quicker.
My third time through I opt out of the instructional section (in what may be the most traumatic tutorial skip I’ve ever encountered) and begin heading from house to house for supplies, dodging the shambling horde as best I can. I get cocky, and forget to pay attention to the time. Night falls as I’m raiding the restaurant near the park, and though I barricade the doors there’s no hiding, what with the floor to ceiling windows near every booth. The doors split open and I ready the shotgun I looted earlier, but can only hold them off for a short while. I’m quickly eviscerated but ready to try again.
The Indie Stone are the folks responsible for this small wonder, and having released the demo after more than their share of trouble, they’re already applying updates to it with astounding rapidity. The game has been released far, far ahead of finished, much like indie megahit Minecraft, and so they are dependent on the monies of the interested. Which really ought to be you! Because, egads, they are planning on adding quite a bit to it.
Keep in mind: this is early. Super early. For all the good there, the demo is brief, and a little fiddly. The text in the pre-menu screen says it better than I can: the demo is “not intended to be hours of gameplay and is only a peek at where we’re headed.”
But the Indie Stone is far too humble- this brief demo demonstrates enormous potential and feels like the first steps of a game that has been waiting for years to be made. A zombie apocalypse that’s more than just blasting away. Where depression and exhaustion are as tough an enemy as the horde that is cutting through your barricades. Where you’re never sure if you’re going to make it out alive.
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