Though I haven’t played it, DayZ has been an enlightening watch on the various YouTubes and Twitches dedicated to it’s unique brand of zombie slaying. Or should I say human slaying? The zombies have pretty much been forgotten, and instead, it’s the human versus human fight that’s been the primary antagonism. Often hilarious (and always sad), it’s been interesting to watch players team up and kill weaker players, loot their corpses, and have a terrific laugh about it (no wonder I’ve lost faith in Humanity). That social experiment now comes to XBLIG as ApocZ ($1.00).
Visually, the game is a stunner. Developer Sick Kreations has always been able to craft superb-looking XBLIGs with their custom engine, and ApocZ is no exception. Excellent shadowing that changes with the day / night cycle, rippling water, and a large, impressive world of various buildings and houses (purely for a pretty show; you can’t enter most). Oh, also a couple thousand zombies, set in four square miles of the Black Sea area in Ukraine. And in light of the recent events there, a zombie apocalypse is probably the last thing they need.
The theme is survival. Much like DayZ… No, exactly like DayZ, the game drops you into the world equipped with the bare minimum (in ApocZ, it’s the clothes on your back, an axe, and a flashlight). From there, it’s on you to combat the dead while foraging for survival gear and weapons. It’s more than just finding a gun, too; it’s the necessities. You’ll have to monitor your food and water, and, if you find yourself in a scrape, you’ll have to patch yourself up to avoid bleeding out.
And with both supplies and zombies clustered around the buildings and houses, you won’t have much of a choice but to get in there and fight. You’ll start small and underpowered, but you can eventually build up to bigger and better, finding guns at abandoned military barracks, backpacks to carry more gear in, even a car / truck to drive between the towns, provided you can find the tires and the fuel to get them up and running.
Zombies have violated the Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Like any end-of-world scenario, there is a finite amount of ammunition, guns, and supplies available on the map. Offline, you won’t face any competition, but if you’re online, and on a full server (up to 16 players), some ‘sacrifices’ will have to be made. And by ‘sacrifices’, I mean many people will die in the rat race towards the rifles. If you’ve jumped into a world, and see dozens of axes and flashlights just laying in the streets, it’s safe to say you’ve joined the wrong party. ApocZ is a game best enjoyed with friends, not randoms, if for no other reason than to have somebody watching your back.
Be forewarned: even with friends and optimal conditions, the online portion isn’t perfect. Though the majority of the initial launch issues have been sorted out, connections and syncing with other players can still be sketchy. Plenty of games I joined saw players popping in and out, zombies just standing around without attacking, floating / disappearing supplies, etc. The developers are keen to work out those issues, though, and along with the budget price tag, it’s hard to find enough viable reasons this wouldn’t be an immediate buy for most.
That puts this game almost on the same level with DayZ— a form of acceptable murder, more about the ‘survival of the fittest’ than a zombie game with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Something you can join in, have fun with, and repeat as desired. ApocZ might not be as involved or offer as large a world as its inspiration, but it’s a very solid alternative for console gamers looking to get in on the action.
This review is also featured at Indiepitome