Classic Sims meets Day of the Dead – Project Zomboid

I’m not the sort of person that spends a lot of money on tech that I feel isn’t necessary for me. That’s why I’ve been suffering with a Windows Surface for the past two years, to complete my MA. But now that I’ve got a bit of extra cash, and a job where I’ll be needing to edit videos and pictures, I thought that I’d treat myself to a shiny new MacBook Pro. Plus, because I’m a student, I get a cheeky 20% off of their products… that was probably the main reason for investing, to be honest.

The first thing that I did on the Mac, other than download Photoshop and iMovie, was to install Steam – an application that I’ve not been able to use for almost three years now, since my last laptop kicked the bucket. I decided to have a browse through the games on offer in the Steam store, and one little title caught my eye. I was looking for a zombie based survival game, something similar to DayZ and H1Z1. But, knowing that neither of those games are currently available on OSX, I thought that I’d look for something a bit similar, but a little different. In my search, I stumbled across Project Zomboid, and was hooked after watching the promo-video.

Project Zomboid is an open-world sandbox zombie survival game – much like H1Z1 and DayZ, but with a far stronger ‘indie’ feel to it. The game itself has similar principles as the two bigger titles at its core, but the style and execution is quite different. In essence, it looks kind of like The Indie Stone took the original Sims game engine, and added a bunch of extra survival mechanics, with a healthy dose of the undead. Basically, it’s a retro-style, open-world, survival-horror game.

The biggest draw to the game, for me at least, was the opportunity to survive. But, as you’re made incredibly aware from the off, death is unavoidable. When you’re playing the game, you’re pretty much just trying to delay the inevitable – the inevitable being the eventuality of ending up like one of the many shambling, reanimated corpses that inhabit the game-world. When the inevitable does finally come, your created character will eventually spring back to ‘life’ and wander the world for the rest of eternity. Well, wander the world until you decide to smash their brains in as your new created character, who spawns in the same map.

Whilst you play, you get to learn survival skills to bolster your character’s stats. The more you use a skill, like first aid to heal wounds, or aiming whilst you shoot a gun, the better at that skill your character becomes. Obviously, all of that progress is lost when the character ends up as zombie chow – but it’s still a fun experience to complete these side tasks whilst ultimately trying to survive. I’ve only been playing for a few days, so I’m more than learning the ropes. I’m hoping, however, that I’ll be able to survive for longer as I get better at the game. That way, I’ll probably get a little more attached to my characters, which will mean it’s even more devastating when they eventually die.

You get to start off with a base set of stats, when you create your character, by picking from a number of professions. Each profession has certain beneficial traits, so a doctor would be better at first aid, whereas a carpenter would be better at constructing things. You’re also given some skill points to spend, which give you the added bonus of a few extra traits. Basically, the traits are split into positives and negatives. The positives cost points, whereas the negatives will gain you points. So, if you wanted to be a doctor who’s good at first aid and a fast reader, you can use all of your points without needing to invest in a negative trait (as ‘fast reader’ is one of the cheapest positive traits). If you wanted something more substantial though, like needing less to eat, you’ll probably have to invest in some negative traits for extra points to spend. These negative traits can be anything from a ‘slow reader’, which will give you a couple extra points, or ‘illiterate’ which will give you a good few to spend. Be warned, though, because these negative traits will cost you in the long run. For instance, I gave my character the ‘slow reader’ trait, because I thought that the extra points would come in handy. In the end, it took him so long to read a book that I lost concentration whilst waiting, and he ended up being attacked by a zombie without me noticing.

The great thing about Project Zomboid is that the game also has online multiplayer. I’ve not got around to playing it yet, but from what I’ve read and seen, it looks like the perfect zombie MMO experience. The IM PLAYIN crew and I are planning on getting together to make a video of us all playing the game together, so watch this space.

The game only set me back £9.99, it’s worth every single penny! Even if it is still in development. When it’s properly finished, whenever that might be, I’ll give it a proper review. For now, though, I’m just going to head off into the zombie infested town, on my own, to see how long I can last. My record currently stands at a painstaking 9 hours (by the in-game clock), full of blood, gore and major internal/external injuries, so let’s see if I can beat it!