Created by the French game studio Eko Software, comes How To Survive a game that focuses on teaching the player how to survive against zombies in a post apocalyptic world (Yeah literally), the game
How to Survive is an action packed game that puts the player on a remote island off the coast of Colombia in the aftermath of an unexplained boat accident.
This island is crawling with Zombies all over the place and to survive we have to take care of our selfs by eating,drinking and sleeping. But that isnt not enougth, we have to improvise and by improvise I mean craft weapons and ammo that will help us kill this nasty zombies that are Everywhere!
The game is played in a isometric perspective (For example Dead Nation), its a mix between Day Z and Dead Rising 2 due to the reasons I’ve mentioned before, the survival and crafting features.
As soon as we fire up the campaign mode (which can also be played in co-op with one more player) the game asks us to chose one of the 3 available characters, this characters feature different stats like Health, Stamina, Precision and Strength so choosing the one that is more fitted to our play style is the best choice.
There isn’t much to talk about in terms of the plot, as soon as we start playing we find a survivor and we start helping him by collecting a Gas can that will then introduce us to one of the most important characters in the game he’s name is Kovac.
But who is this Kovac you ask? Well Kovac is a survival expert that wrote all those “How to Survive” chapters, that you’ll find thorough your play thorough. This books divided in chapters, they are like the tutorials that will teach you how to play the game and how to use certain mechanics like the survival and crafting systems. These books are presented to you via motion comics, and most of them feature humor that will make you laugh for a good amount of time.
You’ll be learning how to survive in a zombie apocalypse by having fun basically! The books might become an issue later in your playthorough and you ask why? The reason to that it’s that every time you open one you’ll always hear “Kovac’s Rules”, alright it’s fun one or two times but after that it gets a bit… frustrating and out of place to hear this and many other repetitive lines. Via this books you’ll learn how to hunt and cook food, how to find fountains to drink water, how to craft items and finding places to sleep.
But let’s talk a bit about the aspects of game play itself, as I’ve said before the game is played in a isometric camera perspective like Dead Nation or Alien Swarm. The controls are smooth and simple to learn to aim with the right click of the mouse and attack with the left click (twin-stick shooter on the console versions), Simple right? But the game itself is not that simple.
I won’t lie to you, the game is challenging and it’s one of the positive aspects about the game. The zombies come out of nowhere and they don’t give you any time to think about the situation and this will make you take quick decisions to survive, so far so good. But once you start attacking your enemies you’ll notice that there’s something that breaks this challenge and this challenge breaker is the execution system.
Once you give a hit to the enemy the execution ability will pop up, it’s all great in visuals especially in terms of animation but it breaks the dificulty of the game. Why you ask? Simple, if you are in a middle of an execution you don’t get damaged so you can simply attack each zombie 1 hit and pop execution all the time which will make your life easier than actually using most of the tactics and features that are available at your disposal.
The game features a crafting that is comparable to the one in Dead Rising 2, you can combine items to create powerful weapons to use against the Zombies, while exploring you’ll find better items to keep upgrading your weapons and armor. If you like a game with a good number of items, How to Survive is the perfect game for you it has a huge variety of weapons at your disposal and I’ll name a few like for example a bow, cocktail Molotov, the machete and even a stick, but don’t worry there’s also homemade guns like a shotgun and many more weapons.
A skill tree is also available, where you’ll be able to forward upgrade stats and even unlock 1 or 2 abilities, like the first one which is unlocking “How to make a cooking fire”. You gain experience by killing zombies and completing missions.
How to Survive world is big, and full of places to explore as you keep playing thorough the campaign you’ll find items almost everywhere. But where’s items there’s zombies, so prepare yourself to fight against multiple numbers of zombies like groups of 7 and 8 zombies. There’ll be moments that it might scare you especially in the night where special zombies appear and you won’t see them coming if you don’t have your flashlight turned on!
But the game features a huge problem, it becomes repetitive fast, the combat is great and all but at some point you’ll find yourself bored of doing the same thing all over again just with different weapons, there’s some new enemies with a shiny armor that will require you a bit more effort but that’s it. There’s some challenging bosses here and there but as I’ve stated it becomes repetitive.
As for content, the game features a campaign mode and a challenge mode. The campaign itself can last up to 6 hours if you explore thing, so bringing a friend might be a good idea else you’ll find yourself in a boring and repetitive circle until you finish the game
In terms of technical aspects, How to Survive is beautiful there’s no doubt in that. The graphics are great for the price of the game, the shadows are amazingly done that even put to shame some Triple A games, the ambient itself easily immerses the player into the game, but unfortunately there’s a huge let down the performance of the game.
The game is not optimized at all in the PC version (version reviewed), I’ve played on a high end computer but every time more than 4 enemies appear on screen my frame rates drop below 30 to even sometimes 21. The developers should be aware of this issue right now, but as of time of this review it hasn’t been fixed yet.
This is a problem that will frustrate some players who are trying to enjoy the game, without having to feel slow and lagged from time to time especially in important moments like running away from a huge horde of zombies or trying to carefully placing a shot.
In terms of Sound Design, the game is well done. The voice acting is good it doesn’t have any problems at all especially Kovac’s voice (It’s a type of Russian accent mixed with American) the other characters voice acting is good and doesn’t bring up any problem. The weapon sounds are great nothing to point on that neither, the home made guns might sound way more powerful than the military ones but nothing “big” to point out.
For the price of 13 Euros, How to Survive is a good game to pick if you’re looking for a game that mixes up a crafting system and survival aspects.
You can have double the fun and less repetitive action if you bring alongside a friend, the game last up to 6 hours and there’s also an extra challenge mode for you to enjoy
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