Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Zombasite is a Hack and Slash RPG set in a Fantasy Zombie Apocalypse allowing for some rather crazy ideas to take fruition. Fighters, Rogues, Clerics, Wizards, Dark Knights (not Batman) and more pick up their weapons in order to defend the remnants of their homes against the invading hordes, allies turned traitorous, and other tribes and factions that would also burn them to the ground.
With the incubation period having reached maturity, it’s safe to say that Zombasite virus is ready for full distribution on Steam. Back in April I wondered what could be done or added in order to do “more” as the Alpha stage felt rather complete. I’ve poked and prodded with my main character over the months showing others who were boss before her settlement was burnt to the ground while she was too far from a portal to do anything about it. This was probably for the best as her current adventure was before the pre-final launch day patch. Making a new game afterwards the differences between then and now make what was already a fun experience that much better. Gameplay feels smoother and some newly added features both big and small make all of the difference.
Zombasite has a heavy emphasis on survival. Unlike Diablo, Torchlight, Van Helsing, Victor Vran, and Grim Dawn, there’s no real story other than the one that you carve out for yourself. The Zombasite has spread and even the Dark Elves that used it in order to conquer and rule have fallen to it. One of their own was a bit smarter and every raised zombie was another one for his collection. With this in mind, those that are left do what they can in order to survive in this harsh world. At times the Zombies created by the Zombasite will be the least of your worries when being compared to the hordes of Goblins and their bombs, Weretigers and their massive strength, or other crazy beings both magical and mundane that roam the lands like the god like avatars that can randomly appear and either make or break your day.
The basics of gameplay will feel familiar to anyone who’s ever had the pleasure to experience a Hack and Slash. You move your character around with your mouse, you attack enemies that come close either with a weapon or skills, and you heal up or run away when you need to. These are just the basics however. With many more features thrown into the mix, Zombasite is the survival and exploration Hack and Slash that I’ve been wanting for a long time as there’s never any shortage when it comes to quests or issues to be taken care of.
There are a few ways in order to “win” but the core of your time will be simply trying to “survive”. This is especially the case at the earlier levels when you have no equipment or materials to your name. Players start off, regardless of if it’s the first time or the twentieth time, in the center of their settlement with a couple of other survivors. These people can either be taken out past your protective walls as allies or they can be left to defend the gates if a Zombie horde or another faction comes calling. Taking these people out with you is a good idea because they’ll need experience as everything past your four walls can just as easily level up. One of the more interesting points is that everything beyond your four walls is out for everything else and not only you which alone was a very nice touch. Having them want to kill each other can sometimes lead to them ignoring you which at times is great because it means you can quietly pass on by if they are not worth the trouble.
Your settlement itself is interesting. It has a Portal, a Billboard for Quests, a Crafting station, and a few pedestals that allow you to make some modifications to your defenses. Items that grant bonuses to this defense or your people’s happiness can be placed and a total of four can be active at a time. Upgrades to the four doors (one for each side) that protect your entrances can also be installed as well as guards to protect them. Obtaining new items in order to mix and match as well as upgrade will be found outside of your four walls while exploring. While an alert will pop up when your town is under attack it’s still a good idea to go back and check the actual status of your defenses. Knowing how much HP your door has can be important depending on how far you plan on going.
That’s the catch of it all. Exploration. Going past what you know into the unknown. Unlike the others in the genre, there is no “town portal”. Instead of this comes the gamble of finding various Portals throughout the lands. It should be very well noted that just because they can be found doesn’t mean that every area actually has one. This is honestly how I lost a few times as I was so far out of reach of one of these portals that by the time I backtracked, it was already too late and everyone was dead which starts a ten minute counter to game over. If you can find another living soul to join your clan of survivors defeat can be avoided. Generally though? They are only around when you don’t need them.
The various survivors that can be found are an interesting breed which need two things once you’ve brought them into your clan, food and happiness. The first in principal is easy as food can be taken care of by leveraging of how many mouths to feed versus how much food is coming in. Your group of survivors can be sent out on hunts to either forage for food or even go hunting for restorative items alongside other objectives. Be warned that they can die to the “wildlife” so not sending them into higher level areas may be a good thing. Food can also be found by you which is automatically sent back. Happiness is a different story though.
Being the apocalypse, no one is happy. People can be miserable from being stuck in the village, others because they are being brought outside of it, and others are mad because there are zombies outside the gate. Who would have thought? Making sure that they have enough food is one of the first steps that can be taken but this can then be followed up with giving out extra rations or presents in the form of money. Things get a bit complicated when person A decides that they hate person B and things devolve to them fighting it out to the death. Tempers can be a bit high at times. Other times if someone is downright mad and pissed off they will leave and betray both you and your group essentially becoming a quest that will have you hunt them down as they repeatedly sent taunts your way calling you a pansy. Needless to say that those quests, along with others, should be accepted fairly quickly and taken care of as fast as possible.
Taking on these quests is good for several reasons. First? They’ll stop taunting you by the end of it. They seriously have the gall to send you messages and call you out for not having chased them down. Second? It encourages even more exploration instead of holding closer to your settlement. Exploring ever outwards is important as it can lead to other survivors that may be willing to join up and increase your population, and thus, your defensive capabilities. While enemies do become stronger as you move outwards, this just means more experience for leveling up which is great in any RPG.
This exploration can lead to more quests which comes back to the original point as to why it’s a good idea to take these on. Above all else, hunting someone down, saving someone out in the field, tracking down a lost and in danger survivor that went out and got lost, all of these not only grant experience and rewards of your own but also increase your overall standing with those that live alongside you making it a little less likely for them to try to stab you in the back. If however these quests were taken from another clan’s quest board, the rewards will be the same but the standing with that particular group will increase making it a bit less likely that they come calling to burn you and yours to the ground.
Hunting down traitors, exploring further reaches, looting chests and bodies will all come down to some serious case of inventory management. Each character has their own inventory and access to both a personal and a shared stash. Interestingly enough, a character cannot use them at the beginning of the game as there are no bags in order to put things in. Bags can be acquired randomly in the field and come in different sizes starting off with only four slots. On top of their standard space, a character can hold four bags on their person as well as put eight in each of their stashes. Bags can hold bags as long as there’s nothing in them so transferring them to other characters in order to make their lives a little easier can be done.
With all the stuff that you pick up though, only some of it will be useful. The rest? You’ll have to scrap it. Scraping in Zombasite is extremely useful as this is how a character will be able to repair weapons and armor, and well as un-curse and enchant these new shiny pieces. Each of these actions has its own cost in specific materials to making sure to grab even the most useless of junk at times can be well worth it down the line.
Zombasie is loads of fun, regardless of what some of your clan members think. It has loads of quests that don’t run out causing you to exit and re-load the same areas over and over. Instead things feel more organic and as time goes by things become tougher as the world levels around you, the Zombie threat becomes more serious, and that moment of absolute dread is always potentially around the corner. As much as I’ve loved a lot of the other Hack and Slashes, none have been able to provide that on-going feeling of progress that Zombasite can provide. Never having to “quit and reload”, never “running out of things”, those are huge additions to this style. The time spend in Early Access was time well spent and Soldak Entertainment have aced this one.Score: 8.5 / 10