Project Zomboid

Project Zomboid looks like The Sims with zombies, what with its isometric views and, well, zombies. I gotta level with you: I’m as sick of zombies as I am of vampires, werewolves, and what passes as political discussions these days.

I digress, but I don’t wanna.

So you play a guy whose wife has doomed you both by breaking her leg in the midst of a zombie outbreak. The game opens, in the house you holed up in, with a surprisingly convincing character dialogue. Your wife wants you to get painkillers and something to bandage her leg. As I was trying to figure out the interface, I accidentally smothered her with a pillow. Doesn’t matter. A zombie got me soon after that.

Okay, so you can’t accidentally smother someone with a pillow in real life, but guess what? This game is pretty damn realistic as far as video games about zombie apocalypses go. Yes, initially the interface is maddening, but once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder why there aren’t more games like PZ. I imagine there will be more games like this, as it’s already generating a buzz in its unfinished state.

It dispenses with a lot of the usual tricks employed by video games and kind of just lets you play it. It’s sandboxy, it’s retroey, and super addictivey. Yes, it’s all three of those words I just made up.

I like that there isn’t a health bar. You can’t just walk over items to pick them up. If you want to make soup, you’ve got to have a can, a can opener, a pot, and a stove. For boarding windows, you must have wood, nails, and a hammer, the latter of which also doubles as a fairly effective weapon. There’s not even an option to save, though that might be a feature of the demo, not the full game, but that only adds to the overall awesomeness of the game, rather than detracts.

The end of the game is known from the very beginning: you’re going to die. There’s no way around it. The only thing you can hope for is to postpone the inevitable. That may not sound very fun, but I’m the kind of player who enjoys trying to stay alive longer than the last time. And you know what? If you ever did find yourself in a world overrun by zombies, you’d try to stay alive as long as possible, too.

Keep in mind this is a very early version of the game. According to the developers, it’s going to be way better in its final release. If so, we’re in for a treat. The music’s great, the graphics are sweet, and the concept is pretty cool.

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