As developer NeuronVexx’s last game on XBLIG, Dizeaze ($1.00) fits comfortably in the ‘FPS zombie survival1‘ mold that’s come before it, similar in style to the DayZ crowd and its XBLIG brethren, such as Deadburg and ApocZ. It’s a definite change of pace from the developer’s previous projects, and there’s no doubting it’s BIG.
‘Big’ if we’re stating things in total, explorable land area. Dizeaze isn’t content to set things on a small or medium-sized map; it basically asks you to survive— and travel on foot— across an entire continent filled with individual towns, cities, buildings and homes. The first time you view the map, then zoom out, you’ll be a little intimidated. It’s a pretty tall task, with miles and miles of digital real estate (read: miles and miles of boring, mostly empty forests) between you and that objective, delivering ‘the cure’ for the zombie infection you find yourself surrounded by.
‘The Cure’ is Dizeaze‘s default PvE mode, letting you roam the apocalypse solo (or with up to 8 players2), while ‘Survival’ drops the pretense of story and has you surviving as long as you can against the zombies— and other players. The world of Dizeaze is predictably vacant and ransacked. You’ll find some supplies scattered around, guns with limited ammunition, but you’ll be relying mostly on melee3 weapons and tools in a fight, or better still, running away to regroup and live another day. Of course, you do find better equipment eventually, color-coded according to their strength and rarity. You can even craft and upgrade those weapons and tools, provided you have the materials (and a workbench… oh… and available backpack space) at hand.
Dizeaze also tries for survival realism. You’re not without concerns, having to monitor your food, water, and sleep levels carefully, finding homes4 and beds to rest in, budgeting supplies and traveling during the day to avoid the larger zombie hordes at night. While scavenging, you can only carry so much stuff before it weighs you down, and with each day that passes, the world changes ever so slightly, giving increased stats to all the zombies. The message is clear; you can’t be complacent or stay in one place too long.
In practice, however, it’s more annoying than suspenseful. Survival games have always walked the line between requiring little urgency and too much of it, with the gameplay and exploration aspects designed to keep you engaged while ‘putting up’ with the constant need to find new supplies and keep moving. Dizeaze as that kind of game isn’t original, ditto for the zombies, but its scope is ambitious… perhaps too ambitious. You can only jog so many miles, rummage through so many nondescript houses, and chug so many milk cartons before the whole thing starts to feel like a chore, even if you are making slow but steady progress towards a spot on the map.
Having friends to help you loot and keep you company along the way will help, but even that can only do so much to make things interesting between the slower moments. For all it does, Dizeaze reminds me a lot of Deadburg, and I can’t help but think that’s a better game to play. To be fair, there’s more than enough options and content here to justify a $1.00 purchase, yet with a little more polish and a lot more variety, Dizeaze has the potential to be something really great. As is, sometimes it just plays like busywork.
- There’s a third-person view as well, allowing you to switch between the two as desired. My advice? Third-person outdoors, first-person indoors. You’re welcome. ↩
- I assume, as I never found more than two or three people in a game. Dizeaze‘s game page says eight total, and I’ll say that unless proven otherwise. ↩
- Melee combat is a weak spot for the game. It’s hard to accurately predict how your attacks will hit, and if a zombie ‘stuns’ you with its attack, you’re left defenseless for a few seconds. Against a pack of enemies, and cornered, you’re pretty much screwed. ↩
- And let me say it now; zombies spawning out of the ground inside houses and buildings is bullshit! I can appreciate the added challenge and the ‘nowhere is safe’ vibe, but it’s a little much. At least with Deadburg‘s Minecraft-ian look, it made some sense. ↩