Thursday, October 31, 2013

PC Spotlight #41: How To Survive

Title: How To Survive
Developer: Eko Software
Platforms: PC
Price: $14.99
I know, I know, yet another zombie game. However, How To Survive stands out thanks to its mix of satisfying zombie action and RPG elements.
After choosing one of three characters, you find yourself on the corpse littered shores of a remote archipelago. The world of How To Survive is set across four islands, each larger than the last. The islands aren't massive but they're diverse, from the woods of the first one to fellow survivor (and your guide) Kovac's compound and the swampy marshes and jungles of the other two. You'll unlock each island as you progress through the story, as well earn weapons and tools to unlock new areas. For example the machete can chop away path-blocking bushes and you'll learn how to ignite campfires. The atmosphere is wonderful: daylight fades, night descends on the landscape, campfires flicker, the tide rolls in and out, birds fly off and when you approach, deer and tapir roam the underbrush.
Fire and illumination is important, because when night falls, creatures besides zombies roam the islands, and your precious torches, campfires, and flashlight can keep them at bay. The zombies themselves are varied as well, from simple shamblers to helmet-wearing armored undead. Thankfully your character is more than able to hold his own, thanks to a large assortment of melee weapons, projectiles, equipable armor (visible on your character), stat boosting items, and skills that allow you to craft distractions or incidenary arrows. Combat isn't the most complex mechanic but it's certainly fun. Blades lop off heads and limbs, heavy weapons explode heads, guns blow zombies apart, and melee finishers on staggered enemies are always satisfying. A crafting system allows you to swap out weapon parts to add attributes like rapid fire or make special weapons like a bone boomerang.
And that's not all! You need to watch your hunger, thirst, and exhaustion; hunting deer, fishing, filling water bottles, and sleeping in designated safehouses will keep you at peak levels. I did feel that too many missions just fell into fetch quest territory and bosses were more frustrating than anything else. The survival elements seem tacked on, just more meters to worry about rather than an deep organic feature. There's also a huge amount of ammo lying around; it was rare that I didn't have 500 rounds or more for my weapons.
Besides a single player campaign (which features co-operative play as well), there's a challenge mode to test you zombie killing skills as well as an iron man difficulty that severely limits your supplies and health. How To Survive doesn't reinvent the genre and nothing really blew me away, but its mix of satisfying zombie killing and RPG elements create a fun solid experience that's worth playing. You can purchase How To Survive from the official site or from Steam.

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