Imagine you’re working on a game in 2012, trying to get it out in 2013… and there’s not much going on around it. It’s not awful – the title was purchased and routinely played by several hundred individuals from all over the world, and this was enough to allow them to continue working on the project in their spare time. Years pass, you add a few additional things here and there, and the game finally passes the magical threshold of 1000 players. You keep working on your hobby project, learning more and more, but you also have to do other things since it’s difficult to make a livelihood with only a few hundred bucks a month to be distributed among multiple people. And after you’ve been working on the game for over a decade, the number of players climbs by around 100 times from week to week, from 500 to tens of thousands. It’s the equivalent of making 3,000 in a single day. PLN each month, with a salary of 300,000 zloty starting tomorrow. It’s not like the title suddenly gained media exposure or you made a deal on Steam and reduced the price by a few pence. All of these elements were present to some extent, but none of them were dominant. Project Zomboid unexpectedly began to purchase the masses, owing to chance, Steam’s algorithms, and a fortuitous mix of a few inadvertent ones. When they acquired it, they discovered that the title has a lot to offer.
So I decided to give it a go. After all, it’s unusual for a 10-year-old game that hasn’t piqued anyone’s attention to become one of the most popular titles, with 65,000 users playing at the same time at its peak. people. Among Us is a narrative that may sound familiar to some, and properly so. However, there was a significant surge “only” two years after the debut. It rapidly becomes evident in Project Zomboid that we’re screwed in the new version of reality. And then it’s all over. Any equipment, medications, or food are in limited supply, and our character must cope with a plethora of issues such as basic physiological demands, well-being, temperature, illnesses, and – quite literally – zombies in the streets and buildings.
We may select the form in which we want to test yourself at the start of the game. It may be a single or multiplayer game, as well as one of four other forms. The first is “Apocalypse,” in which the number of hazardous zombies is so great that any combat is pointless – here, above all, we must sneak. Zombies are significantly less threatening in Survivor mode, although there are still thousands of them on the map. Nonetheless, we must rely on the strength of the baseball bat swing and ammo supplies in this situation. In the “Builder” model, zombies are few, and our gameplay focuses on construction and farming. In the sandbox, on the other hand, we have complete control over all gameplay elements, from the quantity and skills of zombies to the amount of resources in the environment, rules regulating nature, and a few other difficulties.
Aside from the sandbox mode, in which we may design our own heaven, all other gaming modes promise true hell. We begin in a modest apartment with just minimal raw supplies that will last us no more than a few hours. As soon as we go outdoors, the rollercoaster ride begins, and it is tough to get off – even if we exercise extreme caution, zombies will begin hunting us sooner or later. They will crawl past every barrier, burst every window, and destroy every door. The fact that we shall perish is evident from the start of Project Zomboid. There will be no happy ending here, only a long journey towards nothingness and darkness. The only unknown is how long the narrative of our demise will be told.
Even if we identify a location where the zombies have not barricaded themselves, we must contend with a number of additional obstacles that I have previously outlined in earlier chapters. The comprehensive crafting system, which enables you to make hundreds of things, weapons, and dishes, is initially bewildering, but we gradually begin to learn the underlying ideas. Of course, making a salad, a wooden barricade, or a trap is not easy. In fact, Project Zomboid brilliantly captures the sensation of futility that we would experience during a true apocalypse. We don’t actually make and use what we want throughout the game… we just do what the scenario allows. Socks in place of bandages, a fork in place of a spear blade, and a rubbish bag in place of a rucksack. We rapidly become accustomed to such sacrifices. We kiss the hand with whatever we can find and feel relieved to have found anything at all.
Survival in the game is an end in itself at this point. There are no missions, quests, or rankings here, albeit the game provides data on how many zombies we managed to kill at the moment of our death. When the “ride of life” comes to an end, we may simply restart, for example, on a different map or by inventing a new hero in the comprehensive character builder. The rules of the game, however, remain same – as players, we merely strive to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible. It is much more visible when we play in groups. Players eventually become sick, no alliance lasts forever, and we occasionally have to make painful decisions. And, if making your own situations inside existing maps isn’t enough for you, the game also enables modifications. All of this sounds fascinating, and as it turns out, the barrier between theory and practice is very thin here. Despite weak visuals and occasionally bad optimization, Project Zomboid is a really solid game, despite various technical issues. Aside from the aforementioned faults, it is tough to overlook a highly extensive but also pretty badly designed interface. It takes a long time to master it and find yourself in a plethora of options from which to extend successive lists. Even today, after a few solid hours with the game, I occasionally get lost in everything, and escape from a horde of zombies has cost my character more than once or twice. Nonetheless, I shrugged and launched another map each time. I was destined to die sooner or later. This is an excellent example of gameplay above everything else.
I genuinely hope that the developers will be able to iron out the kinks and extend their title in due course. Indeed, they have already made quite clear assertions. The quick surge in popularity and large monetary injection surely astonished the little studio The Indie Stone, but it is a fantastic opportunity for them to grow. They announced the arrival of NPCs to the world, and therefore – an extra narrative, in a recent entry. This will surely breathe new life into a zombie-infested society, as well as providing a variety of other possibilities to demonstrate what a true apocalypse might be like. The skill, crafting, and end-game systems will also be recreated, as they presently do not exist. Personally, I’m hoping that it doesn’t finish with major announcements. Although the idea of rolling up with bags is probably appealing, and I wouldn’t blame The Indie Stone if they decided that it fully satisfies their gamedev ambitions, I believe that due to the potential of the inconspicuous Project The zombies will stick with him and eventually bring him to his demise. This adventure has lasted almost a decade. It would be lovely if there was nothing to look forward to in the end.
If you want to participate, and if you enjoy zombie vibes and don’t mind the visual style from the last decade, it’s well worth it! – you can get the game on Steam for a reasonable price.