Title: How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One (reviewed), Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
Developer: Eko Studios
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: Out Now
Tagline: Zombies are evil, storms are bad. How will you survive?
Family Friendly: Not on your life.
Like a sugar-hyped 12 year old given a plastic sword for Christmas, most zombie games I’ve played tend to utilise a hack-n’-slash technique that requires little thought and minimal effort, yet has the capacity to cause vast amounts of damage (Left 4 Dead, anyone?). These games are fun – sometimes really fun – but they’re not exactly rocket science; after I’ve slaughtered a few thousand or so of the flesh-eating variety I normally reach for the ‘Off’ button or just change game. That’s why Eko Studios’ How To Survive is so refreshing: It’s like Resident Evil but with autosave (thank God!), and successfully combines my love for fighting zombies with my lust for the occasional puzzle (or storyline…), all in a neat little indie game. Win.
Marooned on an island somewhere in the middle of the ocean, your character awakens confused, disorientated and alone, with only a big stick for company. Struggling to get to grips with the situation, it’s not long before you encounter some other ‘survivors’ chowing down on something red and meaty. Approaching somewhat apprehensively (or not, depending on your constitution), it quickly becomes obvious that these are not your average ‘survivors’ – in fact, what they’re eating looks to be the real survivor! Or at least what’s left of him. Too late, you realise you’ve made a mistake here and as they swagger toward you, jaws agape, you’re forced to bash them into oblivion with that big stick of yours; kind of like that 12 year old who was mentioned earlier, right? With the stick I mean, not with the marooning – at least I would hope not. Anyway, thus begins the story.
How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition allows you the choice of 4 playable characters (now with new incendiary ammo enhanced versions) to plot your escape from the zombie infected archipelago. The storyline may be fairly cliché in the ‘escape from zombies’ sense, but the inclusion of the games survival aspect is what really makes this game stand out. As you progress you’re introduced to a series of guides – titled How To Survive – that inform you, well…how to survive. These contain important information on your health bars (Health, Hunger, Thirst and Sleep) as well as lessons on how to craft items, the former being of utmost importance, the latter almost equally so in order to progress effectively (and without having your head torn off).
Crafting items means building weapons, and these get considerably stronger as the game goes on. Starting with the stick, it’s not long before you’ve a machete, then an axe, then a bow, then…well, I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say most everything can be made, you just need to find the parts. Though the combat in How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition is relatively simple (a point and shoot/swing affair), timing and the decision whether or not to use the deadly insta-kill executions (which are powerful, but can leave you open to attack afterwards) make it somewhat more challenging, especially when facing hordes of undead that you’ve inadvertently disturbed, or if you’ve decided to be a hero and chosen to embark on the newly included – and infinitely harder – single-life playthrough.
Ferocious lightning storms that put out your fires and threaten to strike you, infuriating new enemies that hide in the undergrowth (like the cursed zombie croc!), tricky quests and puzzles, and the annoying need to quench ones thirst all rear their ugly heads throughout the campaign, successfully keeping your toes curled and your nerves on edge. A nice touch is the addition of an in-game interface that doesn’t pause the game when accessed (something I didn’t realise and subsequently led to my first death of many), meaning you’re likely to have to pre-plan attacks and inventory placement, rather than just running in and thinking about it ‘when the time comes’.
For an indie title the graphics are awesome, the gameplay’s fluid, and the story immersive and – at times – extremely demanding. On more than one occasion I found myself swept up in the atmosphere of the island of the dead, only to be jerked back to reality upon my – often grisly – death, and to me that’s the sign of a very good game. As someone who likes to stomp a few zombie heads on occasion but was looking for something a little different and just a tad more engaging than those rapid-fire gun runners, I’d highly recommend How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition. It’s almost as good as fresh brain.
- Gorgeous graphics
- Survival aspect is awesome
- Thinking man’s zombie game
- Challenging at times
- Storms can last an annoyingly long time
Rated M for Mature. Simulated, bloody violence involving a variety of weapons to butcher zombies as you attempt to escape an undead archipelago. Not for the feint of heart.