How to Survive is a third person isometric zombie action game developed by EKO Software and published by 505 games. Though it looks like just another clone in a glutton of post-apocalyptic zombie killers, How to Survive is fun in spite of itself.
Going hands-on with the game, I noticed there are really two halves to the experience. There is the zombie hunting and executing and there is the exploration and collection. Killing zombies is broken down into your typical melee (stick, machete) and ranged (bow and arrow) weapons and attacks. Fighting the zombies is uncomplicated; walk up and smash them in the head or fire from afar. Either way, it’s simple, or it would be if the control scheme wasn’t so odd. With right trigger as sprint and right bumper as attack, I often found myself sprinting into the arms of a zombie rather than attacking them. I adjusted, but it seems like it could be a huge misstep.
The exploration, collection and crafting was very appealing to a hoarder like me. In between hacking apart the undead, you are encouraged to pick up everything along the way – from sticks to pieces of metal to the meat of animals you kill. You’ll need every bit of it. Another part of the game is the use of health, hunger, thirst and tiredness. You have to watch each of these bars as they affect different aspects of your game. Your health bar is obviously your life, hunger controls how effective your melee is, thirst affects your range abilities and tiredness controls your ability to sprint. So, you need to explore in order to find water to drink and campfires to cook meat to satisfy your hunger.
Both the weapons and collecting aspects are supported by the intuitive crafting system. The system is very upfront about what you can and cannot combine. While I like the idea of crafting systems that allow you to experiment, I really liked the way it worked in How to Survive because it let me quickly upgrade weapons and get back to the fun of killing zombies.
I was able to see a few different types of zombies, from the normal shambling types to the large exploding zombies. At night fall, even more types come out of the woodwork. These night creatures are stronger, but are afraid of the light. I did experiment a little with the difference between a torch, which doesn’t have the range of light, but completely surrounds you and the flashlight, which only points in one direction but travels farther.
How to Survive has potential. I’m very interested to see where this game goes in the future. I’m hopeful, some of the negatives I saw – such as the control scheme – change. Even with these potential negatives, I still had a lot of fun with this game. There is a little strategy to keep you on your toes, but what I liked most about this was its ability to just sit back and allow me to simply enjoy hacking zombies.
How to Survive will be released in fall of 2013 on Xbox Live, PSN, Wii U eShop and on Steam.