Top critical review
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Interesting gameplay mechanics dragged down by boring fetch quest grind.
on December 24, 2013
This game starts fun. The graphics are decent for the top-down style. Good lighting and water effects. Day and night cycle where night really amps up the challenge by making you watch your back constantly. A diverse crafting system. Decent skill tree options. Some of the voice acting is funny (I think intentionally) and unique.
I liked the survival aspects, which is the point of the game. You have to monitor your hunger, thirst, rest, and health. It's all manageable. You can collect empty bottles to store up water reserves, hunt animals and collect plants to cook at a campfire for food, collect herbs and create bandages to restore health, and secure a bunker to sleep in.
The combat is solid. The controls are easy. You craft increasingly strong weapons as you progress and different weapons have unique advantages. The machete cuts through plants and carves arrows from sticks, the bow is powerful and the arrows recoverable, the gun is rapid fire with plenty of ammo on the islands, the boomerang is very powerful but not as smooth and fast as the bow, etc. Melee combat animations are fluid with just enough variety--more than I expected from a game with this visual style.
While the gameplay mechanics are very solid, the storyline becomes more of a chore than fun unfortunately. It's a series of fetch quests that take you back and forth across the maps. Every time you pass one direction and clear the large amount of zombies, you have to then fight them all over again on the way back due to a fast respawn rate. This turned the game into a slow fetch quest grind for me and I lost interest about halfway through. If you make a wrong turn, it's even worse, because now you're fighting respawns over and over and you're not even in the right spot of the map.
You can't save the game except at story checkpoints and that can take a bit of time. Perhaps, if I could save at will, I could have tolerated the grind in smaller doses.
Maybe it's just me, but I had trouble with the quest early on where I had to collect meat from a deer. I kept wandering the map looking for deer and could never find them. When I finally would spot one, I would have to clear hordes of zombies to clear a path to it and these actions usually scared the deer away, leaving me to wander yet some more. The worst is when you're hunting deer at night and the extra zombies come to chase you down. You need to keep your flashlight on these nighttime zombies to keep them at bay, which makes focusing on the fleeting deer more difficult. The game says you can track the deer once you injure it by following blood on the ground. It's not that easy to do when the ground is already covered in excessive blood from slaying zombies. I eventually caught the deer and made the mistake of cooking the meat, which didn't complete the quest, so I had to repeat it all over again.
I really wanted to like this game. I actually told my friends how much I enjoyed it at the beginning. Then the grind just beat me down.
There is also inventory issues. Some of the crafting recipes call for 5 or 6 items. You're already stocking ammo, weapons, water, food, bandages, quest items, etc and the 25-item inventory fills fast. I don't really consider this a negative, because it more accurately reflects the reality of surviving on these islands. It might frustrate some players though. 25 slots is still considerably more than some games permit.
One small nitpick when it comes to resting: you aren't allowed to unless your rest meter is low enough. One time I was by a shelter at just over 50% fatigue. I couldn't rest before setting out on the next leg of my journey. That's just silly, because you can make adjustments on the other survival factors whenever you please.
As much as I would like to recommend this game for all its positive, interesting concepts, I just can't because the story is a major drag.