The Indie section of Xbox live can, at times, have some pretty poor games but can also produce some real value for money. Survivalist is definitely one of these gems. Its a game that looks, plays well and is great in general, the developers should really be credited… which I would do if I actually knew who they were. The brain behind this game is very good at concealing their identity and all I could find was the games site
but lets actually start talking about the game.
You play Joe Wheeler a big buck hedge manager from the city of angels who for the past year has been quietly waiting out the horror of a zombie apocalypse…. in his own private desert bunker (very fancy indeed). So after munching through all his rations he discovers an S.O.S call on the radio and goes back above ground where he quickly becomes an unwilling saviour. Our reluctant hero has to help communities, build alliances and basically become the guy from vault 101. The plot for the game is great, its compelling and makes you want to burn another hour into the game even though you said that’s enough today. The characters are likeable (even if slightly 2D at times) and you develop emotional attachments and the dialogue is rich but without bogging you down too much in a wave of text.
The game is a zombie apocalyptic game that splits into both RPG and RTS categories. It has RPG elements such as levelling characters’ skills, all the fun of looting anything that isn’t nailed down, a tonne of main and side quests and the social interaction with NPC and factions. Then you get all the fun of a RTS with resource management and defence building.
As you travel around the open world desert you will encounter all kinds of folk, some are friendly and might join up with you as you build your new civilization community while some are no good raiders and looters who deserve nothing more than your complete wraith. As your merry bandit grows in size you will encounter food, water and medical shortages which causes you to explore for untapped stashes or make friendly with the shanty towns that have formed. A cool aspect of Survivalist is that your not limited to controlling Joe, any character that joins you will become playable and some NPC can have useful skills which aid in your survival. You also have command mode which enables you to give individuals commands and allows you to assign characters to collect resources or build while your off doing quests.
The gameplay is excellent and shows realistic aspect of survival, such as the effects of hunger, thirst and sleep deprivation. You can enjoy playing either as a single individual or focus on controlling the whole community to make it a efficient group. The mirco-management side can be a bit tedious and probably more enjoyable for the hardcore RTS players but this is why the command function is like God’s gift because it just makes the whole process easier. Survivalist shouldn’t be underestimated because death lurks around every corner and outcrop, while single zombies aren’t a problem when encountered in groups it can be life threatening situation. The undead aren’t the only way to get characters killed off bad resource management and lack of defences can be just as costly, especially for one character who relies on insulin which is both expensive and hard to come across resulting in the whole process becoming frustrating (though as of this review a patch has be added to aid that aspect).
The visual aspect of the game is very impressive and you can tell a lot of work was put into the games settings and artwork. The setting and characters have a nice cell shaded affect which reminded me a bit of borderlands and subtle details such as bush movement as you pass through them adds to the overall experience. There is no voice acting in the whole game instead all the conversations and dialogue choices are presented through text which actually didn’t take anything away from the whole experience. The soundtrack comes mainly from band arrangements and I have to admit I didn’t like it on first listen but there pretty damn catchy and my opinion soon changed as I quite happily hummed along to my zombie massacre.
A element I usually don’t talk about in my review is the developers interest in the audience. The person/people behind Survivalist take a real interest in fans opinion about the game and constantly ask for feedback as well as fix bugs really quickly. I really liked this as the website was updated nearly daily talking about balancing and patches (not to mention a price drop!) which shows they care about the audience and the game even after sale.
Overall Survivalist is an excellent game which really shines among the others in the indie market. The game proudly shows off its well made gameplay and graphics which is a credit to the developers. It’s the game that people who love Fallout could sink many hours into or for the guy who just completed State of decay but still has his zombie shooting, tin counting, micromanagement itch!