Excited about Project Zomboid? You Should Be

Growing up I always had all sorts of great ideas for how to improve the games I played. Most of them involved allowing the character(s) to get off the beaten path and not treat every problem as though there was just one solution. The rest were basically ways of bring in more realism to the story (how come my guy never needs a nap? Shouldn’t I be able to climb on that? Why couldn’t I just tape my sword to a broom handle and kill the monsters from farther away?).

Since then, games have come a long way. Open world sandboxes are so popular and interesting that it’s more than possible to get so wrapped up in the other stuff you can do that you never get around to finishing the main storyline. I’ve yet to see the ending to Grand Theft Auto IV, and it took me ages to finally beat Fallout III. Not because I wasn’t interested in the story, but wandering around and getting into random adventures (and causing untold amounts of havoc) was just damn compelling.

That said, we’re still pretty locked into the videogame status quo. As gaming becomes more mainstream and more profitable – big business, in other words – we see fewer and fewer games taking risks and trying new things. Thankfully, much like the independent film movement in the nineties, we are experiencing a sudden groundswell with independent game developers.

And what does all this have to do with zombies? Behold, Project Zomboid:

Project Zomboid

Project Zomboid is, to be succinct, the zombie game that zombie enthusiasts would make if they could. It’s not a graphical powerhouse with destructible environments and cutting-edge physics, but it’s a true zombie survival game, and that’s what matter. What really sets Project Zomboid apart is that, instead of just blasting endless hordes of sprinting zombies in the face with military-grade weaponry (not that there’s anything wrong with that either), you’re just a regular guy trying to survive with only what you can scavenge.

The fact that it’s a fantastically retro-looking isometric world is just icing on the cake.

One thing that I really love about Project Zomboid is that the question of survival isn’t a joke. Between hunger, fatigue, injuries, and – yes – the walking dead, you’ll have more than your hands full. As a matter of fact the developers have gone out of their way to say that you will, in fact, die. The question is only when and how.

Yeah, that's a lot of carnage.

Having played a bit of the recently released pre-alpha tech demo, I can attest to the fact that getting through more than a few days is a challenge. Without a lot of supplies, you can’t just hunker down and wait out the zeds. At the start you’re not exactly a walking armory, so going out scrounging is a dangerous task. Braining zombies with a hammer is doable one at a time, but any more than that and you’re rolling the dice. All it takes is one little scratch and you’re infected.

Yeah, that’s right. If you get scratched or bitten, you’re infected. There’s no immunity here, nor is there a cure. Getting infected brings a strange sense of finality to your last few hours in the game. You know you’re screwed, but what are you going to do about it? I like to go out with a bang, taking as many of those undead bastards with me as possible.

In Project Zomboid you can’t just go running around exploring and dodging the ever-present crowd of zombies; you’ll need to eat and sleep as well. These constant needs are what get you in trouble. Go out to find food and you run into zeds, close your eyes to get rested up and awake completely surrounded. Defending yourself causes further problems. Using a hammer or a baseball bat isn’t terribly effective against multiple zombies, but if you use a nice loud firearm, you’ve just rung the dinner bell.

Now at this point the game is still pretty rough. There isn’t a ton of functionality, the models aren’t completely done (so the zombies all look pretty similar), the animations are mostly missing, and you don’t have a lot of items at your disposal. Despite all that, Project Zomboid is still a blast to play. It’s even more fun when you think about all the other stuff that’s going to start popping up in the game as the development gets further along (and it seems like the development team is adding new stuff every day).

These zombies aren't going to kill themselves

At this point I hope you’re wondering how can you try our Project Zomboid. All you need to do is go here and make a small donation (I think it was about eight bucks or so). To stay in good graces with Google Checkout they’re having you actually buy another, POS game, but that’s just for show. You’ll get a login and password by email in a few minutes, and then you can have at it.

So why am I evangelizing this game? A few reasons. First, I think it sounds awesome and I’m legitimately excited to see how it shakes out. Second, I think indie development is really cool, and I like to support them when I can, especially when the project is something I’m into like zombies. Third, it’s zombie related and I know you guys like zombie stuff. Win-win.

Oh, and for those of you keeping score at home, yes, the zombies are slow and lumbering.

27 Comments

skavenhorde

I’m loving this game, but what surprises me a little is that no one seems to know about Dead State. Now with Project Zomboid there are two great RPG zombie games on the horizon instead of just one.

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Dave

I remember reading about Dead State a while ago. That also looks awesome. I just checked the official site and the demo is marked as ‘coming soon’. Yet another thing to look forward to!

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Paul

Hey,

I enjoyed your writeup. Just wanted to point out this:

“Getting infected brings a strange sense of finality to you’re last few hours in the game. You know your screwed, but what are you going to do about it?”

You switched around ‘you’ and ‘you’re’. Not trying to be a douche, please delete my comment once you read and fixed it.

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Dave

Hey Paul,
You’re not being a douche at all. I hate those types of errors and am always embarrassed of them (two in one sentence? Egad!). Thanks for pointing them out so I could fix them.

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Dave

Yes indeed. I guess that’s just telling my that I need to proofread a little bit better.

tyzan8

my friend has gta 4 he wached a walkthrough for it i won’t give away the ending for beacause i don’t want to spoil it………………….yeah i always have those kinds of ideas for making games better……………………..those graphics look kinda like the ones from matrix bullet time (i don’t think you’ve heard of it though)even down to the guns! overall this game looks awesome!

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Dave

I suppose I could just watch the ending on YouTube. Meh.

Project Zomboid is definitely worth checking out though.

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ZombieMutts

I want this. Good angle on the review and I agree…as a long time video game player back to before the original 8-bit NES days (some Texas Instruments system) I have always found that jaw dropping graphics don’t always make for a better game. Sometimes so much focus is on engines and graphics that they forget to make the game fun.

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Dave

Exactly. Jaw-dropping graphics look great in ads and reviews, but gameplay should dominate.

And by all means, make a donation and try it out! It’s got a ways to go before it’s a great game, but the potential is unmistakable and it’s still a load of fun even in the early stages.

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Calicade

Its a step into the right direction, but not exactly there. I love the idea for the game n’ what not. But there is to be something much better awaiting all gamers in da future.

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Calicade

As well as I’m looking on the site it says “Sorry, but you will end up dying” I’ll take that challenge…Only way I’ll ever go down is old age.

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Calicade

Sorry for all these post, but me and a group of friends will be doing something like this Text wise and just between us.. Good ol’ D&D Modern.

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Dave

Well it’s important to remember that this is still extremely early in the development cycle. I can’t wait to see the features they eventually add in.

I love the idea of a modern zombie D&D game. Sounds awesome.

Dave

You know, if you have a written up rule set, that might be something some other people on here would like to see.

Let me know if you’ve got it written out (or are willing to write it out) and you’re up for doing a guest blog. That’s something I’d love to feature.

Dave

Okay so a quick update. The devs put out a new roll recently that fixed a few of my complaints (most of which weren’t in this review because, after all, it’s a tech demo), like adding an option to fast forward time, confirmation boxes on sleeping, allowing you to sleep on couches instead of just beds, streamlining eating and taking medications, etc.

Another big thing is that the zombies now flock into giant mobs, so you’ll see areas with fewer zeds, but then you can wander into a massive pile of them. Really makes the gameplay a lot more dynamic.

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Calicade

Facing on a large group with out having any ranged weapon to speak of would get nerve racking… Maybe I should send in my crafting know hows and see if they put those in?

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Dave

From what I’ve seen, the level of interaction between the devs and community is pretty high. It couldn’t hurt to suggest.

And yeah, facing more than a few zeds at a time without a gun is a death sentence. I’ve played more and used baseball bats and axes, both of which are more effective than the hammer. Even still, you’re nuts to take on more than two or three zombies at a time.

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Calicade

We’re actually wanting to keep the DND group a small one.. But if I can get him back here he could explain our game. Hes actually LegoAddict from in the Plans area.. I’ll talk to him about giving you the info.

LegoAddict

As to the DnD Modern Rule set, I’m using a HEAP of different sources. Of course, the standard SRD, as well as a few other homebrewed supplements, both mine and from others. As soon as I’m able, I’ll put the links up if you want.

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Ross

Project Zomboid- online play? That would remind me a lot more of Urban Dead and probably make for a very cool style of play.

Also, I’m currently running a zombie Roll-To-Dodge on the Brikwars forums. There’s been a lot of stuff about zeds that I’ve encountered recently.

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Dave

I believe that multiplayer is supposed to come along eventually, but I’d imagine it won’t be for a long while. I never could get too into Urban Dead. It was fun for a while, but I just seemed to get zombified and then I got bored.

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