How To Survive review
A mediocre zombie survival game, but not bad multiplayer
Should a zombie apocalypse ever actually occur, the media have done such a good job in informing us of survival tactics and what to do that the entire affair would probably be over within a week. Hardly a minute seems to go by without the zombie genre spewing forth another product, and the newest of these is the former Xbox Live game How to Survive.
How to Survive is a kind of Torchlight zombie killing survival guide, where you can control one of the three characters as they find themselves marooned on a chain of desert islands, where the dead walk and have a craving for living flesh. There are many elements to consider when playing How to Survive: food, water, shelter, fire, medical supplies, medicinal plants, weapons, crafting to forge better weapons and more inventive ways to dispatch the walking dead, and, of course, missions.
Mix all this lot together and you have a recipe for a game that should be quite good, but for some reason it falls flat on its face and get too consumed in the off-beat nature and humour that’s injected annoyingly frequently.
Navigating the island is easy enough: you follow a linear path and come across the zombies in random batches of twos or threes, to start with. Once you delve a little deeper into the game, you can then navigate between islands and access some of the areas that were previously inaccessible. You're rewarded for dispatching the undead in a number of different ways and for completing the various quests that lead you through the story. These points-led rewards can then be spent on levelling you up and increasing different sets of skills that will make you a more effective survival machine. It’s a time worn way of doing things, but it works at least.
Along the beaten track you’ll find sections of the book, How to Survive penned by the mysterious Kovac. In its pages are semi-detailed tutorials, which cover the core aspects of the game in an amusing kind of way. These extras are fun to start with but soon become very monotonous. Thankfully, you can exit the cut-scenes, but you do feel like they’re flogging an undead body by halfway through the story.
The great parts of How to Survive come in the form of the multiplayer modes: local, LAN or online. Playing with a friend in tow is significantly more fun, but in the long run very draining. Additionally, the crafting side of things is okay; patching up and making a custom chainsaw is great, for the brief period it’s in action.
It’s not the greatest game that ever graced ours screens. It’s certainly a slightly different angle on the zombie survival genre, but it doesn’t glue you to your seat for any great length of time. There are some really odd moments too. For example, the build-up to the very aggressive and deadly nocturnal zombies makes you long for some much needed action, but a simple light from your unlimited battery enabled torch sends them scurrying. Also, bullets, and arrows lie around by the millions, so there’s no real fear to the survival part.
All in all, it’s a bit of a boring game, and it never really feels like it’s amounting to anything. It looks nice and the audio is decent enough; the story is a bit naff, admittedly, but then we are dealing with a zombie island, so don’t expect too much.
• Price: £11.99
• Manufacturer: 505 Games
• Website: store.steampowered.com/app/250400
• Required spec: Windows XP or later, 2GHz Core 2 Duo or better, 4GB RAM, ADM 5700 / GeForce GT240 or better