Zomboid is the project name of The Indie Stone’s isometric sandbox zombie survivor. When I say “project”, I mean it. This game is not completed. Like Minecraft, you can drop a bit o’ cash and get the alpha version with lifetime update rights right now for about 8 bucks, and again, like Minecraft, this will go up in the future. Due to the state of the game, this isn’t a review so much as a first look. I want you guys to play this game, and love it so you’ll want to help these guys out as much as me!
What’s isometric? Think of the original Fallout series or Diablo. Instead of a top down view or 3rd person, your camera is angled a bit. It works really well for this particular game. No, it’s not high end graphics. This is very much an indie game, not one made by the big companies. But, like many of the indie games coming out these days, Zomboid brings something fresh to us.
We’ve seen standard 3D games for quite a while with their amazing cinematic experiences as we’re lead into fantastical worlds created for months with hundreds of artists. Zomboid is created by a very small team, and the art style is just as enjoyable—if not more—than all those big games out there.
You may be thinking, “Really?” Yes. It works for this game. If you gave Minecraft a chance, and understand the graphic style only adds to certain games, then trust me when I say this game’s style may seem dated but works.
You Will Die
Zomboid has the options for stories. It looks like it will be very mod friendly as well allowing players to create stories to share with others. Right now, there’s only one story available that’s basically a tutorial for the game, but when you learn the ropes, it pretty much pushes you into the style of the rest of the game.
This is very much a sandbox game. The plot is simple. Survive as long as you can, and however you want to survive. Be sure of one thing; though, you will die. The game let’s you know that right away on the opening scene stating quite clearly, “This is the story of how you die.” So, keep that in mind, and don’t be afraid of dying because that’s part of the game. You’re playing out the last days of a zombie apocalypse survivor.
Equipping yourself for the End
Now, the question is, how do you survive? There’s no denying, Zomboid is still in development, and has a bit to go; however, despite the setback they had after a burglary led to data being lost, the game has come a long way since I first played it.
Originally, and you can still play this in the free tech demo, you could only select the tutorial mentioned earlier. Of course, you could basically enter the sandbox mode, but doing so required you to euthanize your wounded wife or just leaving her to the zombies. I never felt comfortable with either of those choices!
With the paid alpha, you get to enter sandbox mode from the start and create your own unique character.
With the paid alpha, you get to enter sandbox mode from the start and create your own unique character. This is where the RPG elements come into the mix, and the only place, for now at least. Not many option for character appearance, and only men are currently available, but the class types and trait system is pretty interesting.
You can choose your character’s profession from before the apocalypse. At the time of this writing, the choices are Security Guard, Construction Worker, Park Ranger, Police Officer, and Fire Officer. Each profession has one or more traits that come with it. For example, if you choose Construction Worker, you get Think Skinned (Less chance of scratches or bites breaking the skin) and Handy (Faster barricading); however, if you choose Police Officer, you get Marksman (Improved gun accuracy, Quicker reload).
Each profession has their own unique traits which are pretty cool, and then you get to customize your character even more by choosing other traits. There’s a catch, though! You have zero points to spend at first. You have to pick negative traits/flaws before you can pick positive traits. So, you choose Prone to Illness (Smaller view distance, Slower visibility fade), and this gives you 4 points to spend on positive traits. You can then purchase something beneficial such as Graceful (Makes less noise when moving) for 4 points. Now, you have no more points to spend. So, if you want to get another positive trait or one that costs more points, you’d have to take more flaws.
I have to admit, this is a very interesting system, and while it is currently limited, I see it creating some pretty cool and unique characters.
Panic in the Streets
When you choose sandbox mode, you start in one of the random buildings across Knox County. You have no inventory, and have to set out to find food and weapons. Normally, you’ll find a hammer or bat to start you off. If you’re lucky, you may find a shotgun or axe. If you’re really lucky, you might find a shotgun and ammo.
From there, your goal is to survive as long as possible, and for a while, this is pretty easy. Your character will get hungry and tired (modified by any traits you took), and you’ll have to eat and sleep. Food gives you buffs depending on how much you eat and can help you run and heal faster. Alcohol will make you drunk and drowsy pretty fast. Sleep jumps time ahead a bit, and rests your character, obviously.
You can also make things with the craft system such as bandages with sheets and barricades with hammer, nails, and wood. You can also simply barricade a door or window with wood as long as you have a hammer.
When it comes to combat, it’s more like Diablo—though a bit slower—than Fallout.
When it comes to combat, it’s more like Diablo—though a bit slower—than Fallout. You’ll swing or shoot at a zombie with your chosen weapon in the direction you’re facing after your ready it with the crtl key. Accuracy seems to be affected by how tired or wounded you.
But, for now, this is basically what you do. Yeah, it can get boring after a bit, but remember, it is currently in alpha with a lot of features planned including multiplayer (at some point). Other planned features include advanced crafting, character progression, world degradation the longer you survive, missions from other survivors, and much more.
I highly suggest trying out the tech demo, and even dropping the 8 bucks to get the alpha. I have a feeling it’ll be worth it in the end, and is totally worth a bit of sandbox fun even in its current form. At the least, you should keep an eye on where this game is going!
And remember, being a sandbox, you make your own goals and create your own story. With that said, I leave you with a story of my own in the world of Zomboid.
Numbing the Pain
Mark Jones was a Fire Officer before the world ended. He’s a bit overweight, clumsy, and has a hearty appetite; however, he’s brave and can hold his drink like no other. With all his work for the fire department before all hell broke loose, he can swing an axe better than any other man.
Mark spent his first day with a bottle of whisky and had a nice salmon dinner. Hell, the world was ending, might as well eat nice, right? It wasn’t until the second night he encountered his first zombie. He had heard their moans the night before, but didn’t venture out. It was in the shed behind his house he first gazed their rotting presence. If it wasn’t for the hammer he found there, he wouldn’t have survived that encounter.
The next few days were a blur of whisky and steaks. Mark wondered around the town, exploring to find more alcohol to numb his mind and body. It was during this time he found an old axe. He named it Betty, and took to the streets carving his way through the remnants of Knox County. It wasn’t easy, or without tragedy. He saw fellow survivors attacked and devoured, and even took a few bites himself; however, that was handled with more whisky and abundant painkillers.
It was a week after the end of the world that Mark Jones died. He entered the local pub searching for more whisky to fill his reserves. He was a bit tired, maybe drunk or high on a mix of alcohol and painkillers, and bumped the jukebox. That’s all it took, and the building was surrounded by the horde of the dead.
Mark used a bit of wood and nails he had on him to board the doors. It only bought him a few minutes to down the last whisky he had, and when the doors burst open he stood his ground. Over 20 zombies were dead before Mark Jones was overcome. He died that day, but he died fighting.
Who are you, and how did you die?