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GOL Cast: Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse In Project Zomboid

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Zombie games can be usually placed into one of two categories, survival and gore-fest. You either attempt to survive the day to day life or you chop large hordes of zombies into pieces. Project Zomboid takes the survival route.

Project Zomboid, made by The Indie Stone, is an Early Access top-down zombie survival game where you are one of the few survivors (or the only one, if you decide to play singleplayer) of a zombie apocalypse and your mission is simple: survive as long as you can. You need to defend yourself against the zombie hordes, scavenge goods like food, medicine and tools, find shelter and keep yourself healthy, happy and entertained. There is no other goal, no victory and no salvation. There is only one way the game will end: with you dying.

I'm not a huge zombie fan but I do have an interest in zombie games and movies, especially ones that tell a story of survival. Blowing up massive amounts of rotting corpses is a nice way to have some quick fun but there isn't much deep thought in that.

What Project Zomboid does is it focuses almost entirely on the survival. You do have weapons at your disposal, at least if you find them in the world around you, but the combat mechanics are kept simple and use of noisy firearms is heavily discouraged. Instead, you have to take care of your daily needs: food, medicine, sleep, entertainment and so on. Most of the time you will be scavenging goods from nearby stores, apartments and warehouses and avoiding zombies by covering up windows of your shelter with sheets and curtains to keep the light from luring in any zombies.

Management is a key point of this game. You need to think what sorts of goods you need and where you could possibly find those goods. You also have to prepare for the imminent power outages that will leave you dependent on the surrounding environment. If you survive long enough you might find yourself out of canned soup and soda bottles and you need to think about alternative methods of obtaining food and water, like farming. Crafting is a big part of the game and finding various tools and crafting materials can decide whether or not you will die before tomorrow or after 2 months. A good example is fortifying a house. To properly protect your house from zombies, you need to barricade the windows with planks and if you don't stumble upon a stack of them you might have to make your own. So, you need to find an axe to cut down a tree, then use a saw (if you've found one) to turn them into planks. Now you need to find nails and a hammer to barricade your windows. Alternatively you could also turn a plank into a slightly more dangerous weapons with the said nails. Your choice.

One of the worst things about Project Zomboid is the UI. It uses a system where your inventory, status screen and the various containers you can interact with are “windows” within the main game window. You can drag them around, pin them to be always available or close them, which makes the UI very customizable but it's also a pain to navigate at times and getting used to it took some time. Once you figure it out you can manage your inventory with ease and have all the necessary things on the screen just the way you want them to be.

Overall I found Project Zomboid to be a nice survival game with a surprising amount of detail put into it. And despite having an overly explored theme of zombie apocalypse, it still manages to be unique and feels realistic. It's also translates nicely to the multiplayer world and cooperating with or killing other players definitely gives it a whole new level of gameplay. I do recommend this game even though it's been in pre-1.0 state for a good while.

Get it from the Humble Store:

Project Zomboid

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About the author -
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I'm a Linux gamer from Finland. I like reading, long walks on the beach, dying repeatedly in roguelikes and ripping and tearing in FPS games. I also sometimes write code and sometimes that includes hobbyist game development.
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Liam Dawe 6 Jan, 2015
I have been playing this online with Samsai, and with a nicer UI it will be one of the true kings of Zombie games, easily.
drmoth 7 Jan, 2015
Yeah it's an amazing game, it came from pretty rough beginnings (I picked it up before it came to Steam), but they've done some amazing work....and it truly captures the essence of a zombie apocalypse far better than any game I know. The UI is definitely clunky, but it works in a fashion. I need to revisit it, looks like they've made loads of changes since I last played it.
Segata Sanshiro 7 Jan, 2015
Quoting: liamdaweI have been playing this online with Samsai, and with a nicer UI it will be one of the true kings of Zombie games, easily.

Yup, the UI and the controls (combat mostly). Keep wanting to play this, but every time i just stop after 20 mins.

Once gamepad support is up and they get rid of all those Gnome 1 style windows, then I can see myself easily putting in over a hundred hours of play time.
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