Project Zomboid is an interesting game. Everybody has heard of the wildly popular, zombie apocalypse games like Left 4 Dead and such, but this game is something special. The goal in Project Zomboid is not to kill as many zombies as you can, but to survive for as long as possible — and eventually, to die. That doesn’t sound too incredibly hard, does it?
(Editor: Please note that this is a review on the Alpha version of the game. A full review of the game will be available when the game is released.)
Project Zomboid offers a unique experience by combining hardcore survival elements with the brutal ‘one life’ game style. When you die in Project Zomboid, you lose everything you had. At this moment in time, you cannot save (yet); probably since it is still in alpha, but maybe because it is just a hardcore survival game. When you get bitten, you will just slowly have to wait out turning into a zombie, or you prepare yourself with Molotov cocktails, a shotty and a baseball bat and just take down as many zombies with you as you can. It’s all up to you.
While in game you can explore the breadth of the sizeable city. Almost every building has furniture and contains resources like: food, planks (to barricade doors and windows with), batteries (handy when the power eventually fails), weapons and ammo, pans, and so on. There is also a handy crafting grid, which can be used to create some of the most vital things in the game, like bandages. When you are exploring during the day, as most people probably will do, you will run into a handful of zombies spread across town. However, when you explore at night you might run into overwhelming zombie crowds of 30 or more, if you’re unlucky. In a game like this, it seems like you can only be unlucky. One or two zombies are already enough to deal with.
The music of Project Zomboid has been made by Zach Beever and he did one hell of a fine job. Listening to the music outside of the game still provides its hostile tone, the fear is instilled in you even when not being caught up in the peril of a zombie apocalypse. back inside the game, the music is often sinister and adds up to the horror of entering a house you have not ravaged or looted yet. Or when you’re walking alone on the dark streets at night…
Project Zomboid looks great. I personally love pixel art, so it was a feast for my eyes. You can see all the needles of the pine trees and the grass looks amazing as well. The zombies were also made beautifully; in a terrifying way. They resemble bleached, half-rotten humans with the tattered remains of civilian clothes hanging off them, but I would like to see a few more zombie models.
Perhaps the most terrifying design aspect of Project Zomboid is that you can only see straight ahead of you. When you turn around, the area you looked at before is darker and movement is not detected in it, so you can sometimes suddenly face a few dozen terrifying zombies when you turn around again. It’s a lot like the Fog of War in games like Age of Empires.
While the game already feels like a full game, the addition of a multiplayer component would make it an instant buy. At the moment, it’s just single-player, without a save function. So you have to keep it on pause when your alarm clock rings and tells you it’s time to go to work, or you can just call your boss and tell him you’re sick.
The moments of panic, when you are bitten/scratched/hurt, are indescribable. Similarly, the times when you are rushing to the safety of your character’s home through the night and then suddenly face a gigantic sea of zombies…I shudder at the mere thought of it. In other zombie games, you just think ‘crap, I’ve been bitten…’. In Project Zomboid, however, you are never sure when you are actually infected. That key element, combined with the stunning pixel art, the terrifying music and simply the fun of it should be enough to give it a try.
And that is also what brought me to my rating of 80%. It needs more functions, items, playable parts of the city, etc… But the game is still in Alpha, so I think that will turn out alright.
More information about Project Zomboid can be found at official blog.[review pros="Great atmosphere, unique take on zombie genre, terrifying, aesthetically pleasing" cons="Ripe for multiplayer yet lacks it at the moment, no save function" score=80]