REVIEW: End of Days: Survivor

In the recent spate of zombie wave shooters to be released, which has seen five games built around the concept in less than two weeks, Sick Kreations‘ End of Days: Survivor (80 MSP) still manages to be more of a surprise and anomaly than the others. Up until now, I’d been previewing Aliens Vs. Romans (also from Sick Kreations), what I had thought to be their next project. And though this game might be meant as a tide-you-over until Aliens Vs. Romans (itself poised to be a wave shooter), it instead runs the risk of souring some gamers’ expectations.

End of Days Survivor - Screen

Both zombies and wave shooters have seen their worth stretched before, but Survivor is a case of recycled materials. It takes the map from the developer’s previous effort, Infected Vs. Mercs, and drops two of the larger aspects that made that game a fun and replayable shooter; online play and leaderboards. It does feature a host of score-based unlockable weapons (that are all curiously light on ammo and capacity), though in substituting the undead, it finds itself sandwiched between doing too little and just enough, satisfying the trendy crowd with the fatal expense of ditching key components.

The game runs a total length of 20 waves, but it’s the bonus rounds that hit every three waves that are easily the most enjoyable points in the game. You’re handed a grenade launcher with unlimited ammo, each shot of which sends the zombies flying in all directions. The round doesn’t end until the timer runs out or you die. It’s fast and fun, and should have been the kind of quickened, arcade gameplay the rest of the waves strived for. Alas, it’s not to be.

End of Days Survivor - Screen2

It doesn’t help that the zombies skip out on intelligence and run en masse to your gun, relying on their numbers and you catching an odd corner or dead end to provide challenge. Failure doesn’t mean failure, either. If you die, you simply pick up where you left off, no penalty. In fact, the biggest challenge in End of Days: Survivor is simply to survive the boredom that sets in, as outside of the bonus rounds or unlocking a new gun, each wave plays out the same, with you running around, refilling ammo far too often, and shooting one nondescript zombie after another.

The helicopter sequence at the end is a just reward, but as a wave shooter, End of Days: Survivor loses the player’s interest far too quickly. Once you all unlock the guns (twenty minutes or so), they remain accessible for that playthrough, eliminating goals and turning wave progression into a lifeless chore. Coming on the heels of so many others, which sees those games doing the same thing but better in certain instances, it fails to impress. All of its parts are in working order, and the developers do weaponry particularly better than most, but I’ll admit my anticipation for Aliens Vs. Romans had dulled a bit. This should have been an add-on to the existing game. Try harder, guys.

12 thoughts on “REVIEW: End of Days: Survivor”

  1. Oh man this looks like an okay wave shooter to spend 80 MSP’s on. Though I’m not such a big fan of the lack of challenge and punishment for dying. There has to be at least some modicum of challenge (or at least unlockables) to keep players coming back for more.

    1. Yeah, outside of unlocking the weapons (which doesn’t take long), it’s pretty standard. The zombies and their AI aren’t that bright, either. They tend to just amass at doorways and try to overwhelm you. I have faith in the Sick Kreations guys, though. Their next game is also a wave shooter, and looks to be a little more varied: Aliens Vs. Romans. No solid release date, though it could be soon.

  2. I think SK was on the right track but messed up all their efforts when they made so many waves. 20 waves is alot especially when all waves are in the same map. And the waves are way too long, which makes it get boring quick. If they had 10 waves with 50 zombies each it wouldve been perfect. Instead its a drawn out game that gets boring fast.

    1. I agree. Now that I’ve played so many of these damn types in the last month and a half, it’s made me a sort of authority on what will and won’t work. The length of the waves, the amount— all of that has to be tailored to give just the right amount of challenge and work. Too much, as you said, and it feels like one big chore. Earning money / points to unlock weapons is nice, but give the player enough ammo that it’s fun to actually unlock those guns, not run around collecting refills every 30 seconds. Visual variety and new zombie types are key, too. Developers need to take a good long look at the genre before putting out these quick cash-ins.

  3. * Using the same map as Infected vs. Mercs, more or less. After playing EoDS I suspect that this could have been an add-on, not a new release. The game is about 141mb, so Sick Creations might make the argument that they could not have updated Infected vs Mercs with the new content, and still had it fit within the 150mb limit that allows them to publish at 80 points. If this is the case I’d be interested to hear from them, or any thoughts in general, its good to here from Devs.

    * Tim mentions ‘tiding us over’ until Aliens vs Romans – and the Front End strengthens this theory, there are two options ‘Local Survival’ and exit. Now this could mean that the devs are planning an update – if so a ghosted option would have been a welcome way of communicating this, however I’m inclined to agree that EoDS may be somewhat of a ‘tracer bullet’ – a precursor to Aliens vs Romans.

    * Ammo did feel sparse – I understand the goal of making the player move around the level, yet when I purchased more powerful weapons I ran out of ammo quicker then I felt I should. As an owner of the game – I would like to see this rebalanced, before I return to it.

    * Weaponry – the weapons look superb, and as mentioned above are indeed handled better than most.

    * Frame rate – the game throws hordes of Zombies at you at a smooth 60fps, elevating the experience. For a game like this a good frame rate is vital, and they’ve done themselves proud in this respect, given the amounts of Zombies in the world.

    I’ll finish by suggesting that End of Days Survivor will be in the charts for some time, and praising Sick Creations for their work 🙂 80msp made this an easy sell, as I don’t own Infected vs Mercs yet. Could the two have been combined, or had more feature parity?

    1. Ah, that’s a good point, Daniel, about the file size, although I wonder if most of the geometry and art would already be in EoD: Infected Vs. Mercs, which would reduce the file size further if it were an add-on. Not sure, as I’m not a programmer by any stretch. 🙂

      I think the thing that bugs me most about Survivor, even with the reused art and issues I / you mentioned, is that it just doesn’t add anything new to the genre. Six games like it released in the last few weeks of 2012 doesn’t help either. There’s too many to choose from, and the fact that this one is basically a ‘reheated’ version of an existing game makes it stand out as such all the more. I do like that it’s 80 MSP, though. And you’re right, anyone that doesn’t own Infected Vs. Mercs would be seeing all this for the first time. I’m not one of those people though, so I have to assume there’s others like me that played Infected Vs. Mercs. The framerate is smooth, to its credit, and the game works decently enough, so no problems on that end.

    2. File Size – Its possible, but I can’t say for sure either way. Textures would be the thing to swing it either way I’d say – if the map model has been modified (I am not suggesting that it has), the vertices and indices are probably less than 8mb. Textures are a different story though. But if its the same textures, and different lighting then an update seems plausible. Although the zombie animations/textures must be considered also. Its feasible that it wouldn’t fit, but only Sick Creations can say for sure.

      Working from the premise that an update isn’t feasible, could more have been changed? Certainly, yes.

      Adding something new the genre – its what players long for isn’t it? I think your with the majority here. I like your ‘reheated analogy’ reminds me of Pizza heh 🙂

  4. I’m about to play this myself. I’ll be interested to see how it works out for me. I’m not a great fan of the wave-FPS format in general because it requires a lot of effort to keep it interesting for prolonged periods, and at the very least it has to be multiplayer-based to remain entertaining beyond about 20 seconds.

    1. I agree, plus there’s been a rash of them coming all at once, which isn’t helping. I know you weren’t a fan of Zombie Strippers or 8bitretrozsurvivals either, but the main difference there is at least it’s a game I / you / others haven’t played before. End of Days: Survivor -IS- Infected vs. Mercs, more or less. Same map (fine, it takes place at night), same layout, same weapons, minus the online play, bland zombies added. It just felt too much like an add-on, not something that necessitated a new release.

      P.S. Welcome back to the land of technology and internet. 😛

    2. Having played it now, I completely agree with your assessment. It’s all done competently enough, and the End of Days engine is arguably the best FPS engine on XBLIG at the moment, but the game doesn’t offer enough to be worth buying as a standalone. It’s…boring. :/ The best examples zombie defence (non-XBLIG) I’ve played are the Zombies mode in Black Ops 1 and the ‘finale’ sections of the Left 4 Dead games. In both cases, there’s a lot going on besides just shooting zombies and keeping your ammo up.

    3. Yeah, that’s fully my point. There’s personality in both those examples, and the zombie types require you to strategize. I’d endorse a straight L4D rip-off at this point just to play something fun in the genre.

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