How to Survive arrives just in time for Halloween, but how does it fare against the various other survival games out there? It’s time we dig into the title and find out if it really is worth trying to survive this ordeal, or hide under a rock.
At first glance How to Survive is your typical zombie game. You run around bashing on zombies and collecting various items for people. But instead of having just a stamina meter, you also have health, tiredness, hunger and thirst. You also start off with next to nothing, and have to make your own weapons, armor and learn how to deal with various enemy types.
If that wasn’t enough, night-time also brings various extra creatures out that come to ruin your day. They’re afraid of light, so a flashlight or torch is required to explore the islands once the sun goes down. Once you’re stranded on this mysteries set of islands, your main goal is to find a way off. You will meat a small cast of characters which will guide you through your progression. Just don’t expect to jump in and rush through the title without dying at least a few times.
There is an interesting mix of tones within the game. You will here various sombre tones, as well as high paced tracks which alert you of danger. There’s a nice balance of music, sound effects which builds a nice atmosphere for you to explore the various islands. There are times where the audio does go a little over the top and your bombarded with audio that peaks for no reason.
In general there’s a nice sound mix, but it needs a little work to stop you reaching for that remote to turn down the volume at times when there’s a lot going on.
How to Survive has a really interesting art style which is highly detailed. Each island you visit has its own look, which is quite interesting seeing as the islands are made up of a jungle style environment. There’s signs of life, but they’ve been over run. The game also runs extremely smoothly, even wen there’s a lot of action on the screen. The whole graphical package is quite impressive.
There’s not much of a story to mention, you’re stranded, you have to survive. But you do meet a small cast of characters which fill you in on current events. These events are a nice touch, but the voice acting for each character can be a little shaky at times. But they give you something to work towards, and help you on your way as you progress.
One part of the progression that felt a little off to me was the tutorial island. You start off on a small island, then progress to find a survival who teaches you all the basics. You will also come across Kovacs survival manuals lying around the islands. These sections are fine, but it feels a little out-of-place when it’s the second area you progress to after dealing with the first general island.
There are a few interesting elements to gameplay within this title. Sleep, thirst and hunger all play a part in your survival, but so does beating down the zombie threat that happens to occupy the islands as well. You can take the fight online in a multiplayer challenge mode, or have a friend join you with the story mode. But don’t expect this to help you progress any faster.
There are several sides to the game, such as collectibles, difficulty and the multiplayer challenge elements. But we couldn’t work out if the game gets harder with two people. The one challenge that does stand between you with a second player is that you can hurt the other players. This adds another element to your survival if you’re playing with a friend, but it’s also quite easy to hit your partner by mistake if you’re within the same area.
As mentioned in the game, you will die. And probably at no fault of your own. The combat and progression has a nice pace, for such a short game. But that aside, the title does have some issues. You may get stuck in the environment when trying to flee. Or find yourself having to fight the odd zombie which is killed via the instakill prompt. This prompt doesn’t always show if you happen to hit the zombie into a wall or they get stuck on the environment. These issues are quite annoying and more often than not result a frantic sprint to get away from a small horde.
The idea of sleeping, drinking and eating to survive and keep your health at a level where you can fight zombies is an interesting and welcomed idea. They’re not much of a big threat though. More often than not you will have a small backlog of items to cure everything apart from sleep and your general health. Sleeping can only take place in the secure bunker safe houses which you need to clear out. This is an interesting idea, but it become tedious when you have to fight a 5 minute wave each time you just want to sleep. You can also only sleep when prompted by the warning meter, you can’t rest at any other time.
The game’s progression has you running all over for various items so you can get off the islands. So expect to become an errand by while exploring. That’s if you want to get off the island though, there’s also various other things for you to do, but the side missions also require you to gather special items for Kovacs monkey’s.
With you progression, you will also need to make weapons, armor, food items and remember to collect and build guns, axes and upgrade what items you do have. The addition of crafting items to survive is interesting as most items are quite simple to make, but you just need to think what real world items you can make and figure out the recipe if you’ve not found one of the many pages. I’ve found this to be one of the best parts of the game as if you don’t prepare before hand, and expect a certain level of failure, you will fail and die as a result.
Sadly the glitches of getting stuck on items, zombies becoming invincible and the bomber zombies making it very difficult to progress if you have no ammo or a gun. You can run past bombers, just don’t’ expect to walk away with much health, or find yourself on the end of an explosion that will kill you. This wouldn’t be such an issue, but they can almost run as fast as you, not to mention they can only really be killed with ranged weapons. This is obviously a design decision, but it feels quite unbalanced when they always show up in pairs, and appear far more often later in the game.
Moving on, you have night a day cycles to deal with in the game. This adds a nice element to the visual side, but the night also brings new enemies which are afraid of light.
Overall the title is quite enjoyable if you can get around the various quirks and odd bugs. The fight for survival isn’t quite a fight, as you will end up with more items than you know what to do with. The most commonly needed item will be health objects, but thirst, sleep and hunger are easy to combat, you just need to remember to check on them once in a while.
How to Survive is one of those rare games that really does try to give you the survival experience you’re after. You have to think about everything you do, and it’s actions. Not to mention micromanage your health conditions to make sure you’re in top condition to fight. This is one of those titles you either love or hate, for a zombie survival fanatic is will most likely be a must buy. But for others looking for a full dedicated experience which fills a void of time, you may want to pass. The title is quite short, and very repetitive with its story progression.
This is a good one off title just to experience, but it’s not for the long-term survivalist’s out there. This game does have a lot of potential to become something great, but the story is short, and the gameplay can be very repetitive.