Tag Archives: Survivalist

REVIEW: Deadburg

Similar to DayZ— or XBLIG’s own ApocZReanimated GamesDeadburg ($1.00) is a zombie survival adventure set in a sprawling, completely explorable world. Visually, it’s a cross between Minecraft‘s blocky environs and a more realistic look for its items and zombies1, meeting nicely somewhere in the middle of the two styles. Its idea is well-worn by now, but the end result is one of the more playable crafter / shooter types you can find on the service.

Deadburg - Screen

Staying true to the genre and those aforementioned games, your objective in Deadburg is survival. This requires the obvious finesse in combat, battling undead hordes and watching your health, but also in monitoring your food and water situation. Strangely, this zombie apocalypse overfloweth with water bottles and canned goods, making this less of a serious concern about micromanagement and more of an annoying, ‘Don’t forget to to eat and drink’ bit.

Regardless, you will certainly have no shortage of houses and stores to search for said gear. Each world ‘seed’ is procedurally-generated, granting you hundreds2 of options to loot out life-saving bandages, firearms, items, materials, etc. In fact, it’s quite overwhelming at first glance. Multi-storied homes and abandoned businesses line the zombie-filled streets. Huge skyscrapers and buildings loom in the distance, erupting upwards into your game world all Inception-like, promising their own rewards and surprises.

Deadburg - Screen2

And dangers. Zombies are keen to taste human flesh, of course, and Deadburg offers up a large collection of melee weapons and guns, ranging from sledgehammers (which doubles as your ‘pickaxe’ to break apart the buildings / blocks) and golf clubs, to pistols and assault rifles. Each comes with their own durability and damage output (or limited ammo), necessitating that usual carrot-on-the-stick strategy of continuing to explore and look for better gear.

Your avatar can effectively ‘level up’ as well, buffing skills like strength and stamina, or various attributes that will, say, give you an edge in combat, grant you night vision, or increase your odds and talents in crafting. The Minecraft-ian hook is more than just an excuse to design and / or wreck the environments, too. Build makeshift bridges to cross rooftops and avoid a fight, or stack together a barricade to block off a pack of zombies. Options abound.

Deadburg - Screen3

Pertinent info aside, the online play— seemingly one of Deadburg‘s most popular features— remains sketchy even a month after release. Up to three players can join a world (or host their own)… when that game world is stable. Lag / stutters create some issues, as does the lack of an in-game map, making it hard for players / friends to find each other and team up. The zombies, too, are literally hit and miss, featuring some wonky AI where they’ll just kind of stand around looking at you until you get close. To counter this, the game does boost their collective stats, making them stronger and more resilient with each passing day / night cycle3.

These are minor bumps in the road, however. The game gives you plenty to keep you busy and exploring, finding new crafting recipes and better weapons, and leveling up to meet the challenge. Deadburg feels ambitious, massive, and involving, its environments larger and more varied than ApocZ. It’s ultimately missing the apocalyptic presentation and the ‘human element’ of something like Survivalist, but if you’ve yet to fully scratch your ‘zombie survival’ itch, Deadburg is certainly worth a look.


  1. Some of which look like an undead Vladimir Putin, curiously. 
  2. The game’s description says ‘thousands’ of explorable buildings / homes, but I’m leaning more towards the conservative side until proven otherwise. Not that it matters; you literally won’t run out of property to search or stuff to pick up. 
  3. There’s been other issues as well, including crashes and other gameplay bugs, but the developer is working on another patch to address some of those outstanding issues. Even better news, they’re working on a new ‘Defense’ mode and other tweaks / options that will be added in a future update. Keep an eye on their site for details. 
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And ‘theXBLIG of 2014’ is…

Yes sir, it is that time of year again. That time when we unanimously say, ‘Out with the old and in with the new’, make a whole bunch of resolutions we’ll have forgotten about by February, and hope the new year brings us some sort of sign / luck / love / money / whatever. And if not, we’ll complain about it on Twitter.

For ‘theXBLIG’, the end of the year means an all-new ‘Best-of’ list, narrowing down all of the games released in 2014 into one handy leaderboard, voted on by the community. That’d be you guys and gals, the loveable readership of this fine site1. Just like last year, I’ve rounded up my personal choices for ‘Game of the Year’, listed them in no certain order, then asked you guys to vote on them to see which game would come out on top.

Interestingly enough, though plenty have been spelling doom for XBLIG for some time now, I actually labeled more games ‘leaderboard quality’ this year than last. Whether that trend will continue in 2015 is anyone’s guess, but it’s not a bad ending to an otherwise up-and-down year. Seems you’ve felt the same way, as some games saw massive interest in voting, while others struggled to net a handful of votes. Strange times, but, without further ado, here are the Top Ten…, excuse me, Top Nine (and one write-in), XBLIGs of 2014.


(Sort of but not quite) 10. Fright Light (5 Votes)

Fright Light is the ‘write-in’ vote winner, and I can’t be entirely sure that developer Chris Antoni didn’t just vote five times for his own game, but… so be it. Horror on the cheap, with visuals and production to match, Fright Light did its best Five Nights at Freddy’s impersonation, and didn’t do too bad at it.

9. Shipwreck (3 Votes)

Imagine a classic The Legend of Zelda game. Got that? Okay, now picture that series being handed off to an indie developer. Scared? You shouldn’t be, as Brushfire Games did an excellent job porting over the look, the feel, and the puzzle / dungeon design those games are known for. It’s an overlooked gem.

8. STRACO: Purge & Conquest (4 Votes)

The STRACO series (this game is parts two and three of a trilogy) may not impress you from the start, but its charm and playability wears on you the more you play it. A top-down shooter with heart, humor, and… Optimus Phillip, it’s well worth the look.

7. Dead.Kings (5 Votes)

Dead.Kings

Dead.Kings is a lot like the original BloodyCheckers, which may hurt its originality, but it’s more fun and player trolling per square inch of checkerboard than the now-boring real-life version of the game.

6. Amazing Princess Sarah (10 Votes)

If large breasts and throwing corpses around a stage sounds like an excellent retro-ish platformer to you, then Amazing Princess Sarah is the game for you. This kind of stuff sells itself.

5. Survival Games Season 1 (21 Votes)

Survival Games Season 1

Take the look of Minecraft, add in the survival mechanics and the merciless backstabbing of DayZ, and you’ve got the general idea behind this game. Each match can be a tense affair, a mad dash for limited supplies. Or you can play silly dress up and hide in your private corner of the world. Your choice, no judgement from me.

4. ApocZ (23 Votes)

An impressively-large, post-apocalyptic world full of zombies, the harsh reality of survival, …oh, and the real threat; other asshole humans shooting you in the back and taking all your carefully-scavenged equipment and weapons. Thanks a lot!

3. Shutshimi (37 Votes)

A fish with human arms (and giant muscles). A fish with a cigar-smoking problem. A fish with a ten-second attention span. What does that equal? Neon Deity Games’ ridiculously-fun shooter, which tosses new powerups and modifiers your way every ten seconds.

2. Dead War (49 Votes)

Part overhead shooter, part storyteller, part roguelike, Dead War mixes the good ole’ ‘zombie game’ with those aforementioned pieces to good effect. A nice change of pace from the usual zombified suspects that appear on XBLIG with alarming regularity.

1. Survivalist (139 Votes)

Survivalist

It’s tempting to dismiss XBLIG as a juvenile playground of avatar games, zombie shooters, and Minecraft wannabes, but Survivalist is one of those rare types, the type that sneaks up on you without anyone realizing it. Sure, there’s zombies, but they’re hardly the focus. The game presents you with a huge open world, the onus to survive, and dozens of characters that will remember your actions. One of the best XBLIGs I’ve ever played, Survivalist is a special game.


  1. Not a blog. 

INTERVIEW: ‘Survivalist’ Developer

It’s been awhile since I promised to get my shit together and build up my rusty interviewing skills, so I figured a good place to return would be with one of the best survival-based (I mean, it has ‘survival’ in the title; it’d better focus on surviving) games— also featuring zombies— available on the indie channel. Don’t believe me, then read the review. Also by me, which won’t help matters if you already don’t believe me, I guess.

Anyway, with a game of this size and scope, I’m always curious to get the inside scoop on the work and events that lead up to the finished product. What follows is my best attempt at questioning (and humor), talking dead with the creator of Survivalist, lolznoob, AKA Bob the PR Bot.

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So, ah… Zombies, huh?

I always liked the zombie genre ever since watching the Romero movies.  When I started this project, it seemed like there weren’t a lot of games that properly expressed what I liked about the zombie movies. State of Decay, Telltale’s The Walking Dead, The Last of Us and DayZ either hadn’t been announced or at least I hadn’t heard of them yet.  Now, of course, we’re living in a sort of zombie golden age…

Survivalist - InterviewScreen

Gotta love that backpack.

That’s true. As much as some wish zombies would go down— and stay down— they keep getting back up for more. Survivalist is a massive game. Hours could be spent just foraging and building up your home base, besides venturing out into the world and taking on missions. How did the game come about? Was it always this big in scope, and how did you manage it? I’m tired just thinking about the amount of hours you must have put into this.

Somewhat arbitrarily I decided to make it use 1 square kilometre of land (actually 1024×1024 metres).  I thought it would need to be quite big in order to give you time to build a base and give you a variety of other communities to recruit from and so on.  I think now I might have been able to get away with a quarter of the size…  The feature-set was as small as I could make it while still (hopefully) being cohesive.  There’s lots of things I would have liked to have but didn’t, such as melee weapons and stealth.

Melee weapons would have helped me with my crap aim, that’s for sure. Good thing my version of the apocalypse had plenty of bullets to go around.

The game is certainly harder than most, managing yourself and others, keeping the home tidy, contending with the undead and those always pissed-off wasteland looters. Are there any tips you can give players just starting out, or perhaps hints on tackling the tougher parts later on in the game? Any secrets or easter eggs we should know about?

Once you’ve got a well, and planted crops and assigned people to farm them, and they’ve ripened, the food / water situation pretty much takes care of itself— you don’t have to spend the whole game worrying about that.  To deal with looters, bullet-resistant vests help (and saving the game before you attack).  Secrets: well it’s not really a secret, as some of the quests will lead you to it, but there’s a brain scanner somewhere out there that’s pretty useful for understanding people’s opinions of you.

Survivalist - InterviewScreen3

Really? Then again, I doubt I’d need science to tell me when someone’s ticked off at me. Dragging them a mile out into the desert, then telling them their services are no longer required back at camp… probably not the way you should fire someone. Poor guy didn’t have any water either… Let’s not dwell on it.

Obviously the game is out now on XBLIG / Xbox 360, and I’m sure PC is in the cards, but do you have additional plans for the game beyond that? Any new content or added features, or a sequel perhaps? All after a well-deserved vacation, of course.

I think I should try to bring it to different platforms, but I don’t know which ones yet.  Right now it turns out there’s still a few bugs to fix, so that’s the focus.

Fair enough. I’d rather keep the ‘Only for XBLIG’ tagline on the box anyway. Looks better that way.

Though it’s not news that Xbox Live Indie Games as we know it are coming to a close. Still plenty of games yet to come, but what do you think your nostalgic look back at XBLIG will be like? Also, any thoughts on Xbox One as it relates to indies? Hopes? Dreams?

I didn’t really get involved with XBLIG for most of the time while I was making Survivalist.  I was just concentrating on making it.  It’s just in the last few months that I’ve been putting it through playtesting that I’ve been playing other peoples games as well, and it turns out there’s a lot of good games on there.  You should do a review of Steam and Metal, btw (very polished shoot-em-up).

For XBox One and PS4, it would be nice if we could self-publish, ideally using c++.  But I kind of doubt that will happen, feels like they’re going for a more curated approach this time round where you have to be a proper company with a track record.  I hope I’m wrong. ….Actually, after writing that I had a look at the ID@XBox program and it looks a bit more positive for self-publishing.  It sort of implies they might be going to do it in the future.  So that’s nice.

Anything that gets good games in the hands of consumers should be their motto, so I don’t see why not. In the meantime, we’ve got a pretty solid lineup already, people… hint, hint (points at indie marketplace). Oh well. Thanks again for taking the time, Bob.

You’re welcome.

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Survivalist is available now. Keep up with the game at the official site here.

REVIEW: Survivalist

Survivalist ($2.99) will be notable for two things. The first, sadly, will be its higher cost (*It was $4.99 at the time of this writing). Gamers are a risk-adverse bunch when money is involved, specifically when it comes to XBLIGs. To some, spending five dollars on an indie game is tantamount to dropping sixty dollars on an unproven retail title. Most will simply never take the chance. To those that do, the game’s second notable quality will apply: Survivalist is one of the most impressive XBLIGs ever produced.

The game puts you in the top-down viewpoint of Joe Wheeler, a rich snob (with his own private desert bunker; how nice) turned reluctant savior, trying to live in a world that has been decimated by several different strains of a terrible zombie infection and society’s subsequent collapse. Think of it as a cross between Fallout and last year’s excellent State of Decay. Survivalist follows in that latter vein, putting the emphasis more on building / being part of a community and securing relationships, over the undead and outright gunplay.

Survivalist - Screen

Even with overwhelming firepower, combat is dangerous.

Though killing zombies is a part of it, for sure. The mid-western United States never looked so desperate and sparse, and in-game, it’s a large open-world wasteland teeming with trouble and treasure. Singly, the undead don’t pose much of a threat, but in packs, they can catch you off guard and overwhelm. Depending on the strain of infection (green is mild, white is instant death), traveling unprepared and alone into unknown territory (the map fills in as you explore) is generally not advised.

The good news is, you won’t have to, as the game features a robust economy based on gold and a cast of hundreds willing to do anything for you provided you have said gold. Or medicine. Or weapons. Or just a safe place to crash. You’ll carry out plenty of story missions and side quests in your time, but basic survival is the goal. To do that, you’ll recruit other survivors, scavenge (and scavenge, and scavenge some more), and build a functioning home base, complete with buildings, crops, and protective fencing as you see fit.

The characters that you meet and team up with, too, are a complicated sort. They each have their own motivations and desires, and actually react to you and remember the decisions you make. Show you can handle yourself in a firefight, and people will take notice, looking to you as a leader and joining your community if you ask them to. Threaten a trader or a townsperson, and be prepared to get the cold shoulder from your constituents. Take on a former looter after you’ve killed his friends, and of course the dude will harbor a deep hatred for you. This kind of interaction (and their consequences) within the world of Survivalist happens regularly, and it’s truly awesome to see it all play out, dependent on your choices.

Missions can be dealt with in a number of ways. You can go solo, or roll up with your entire posse if you so wish, to even the odds. Play it smooth, or as a chickenshit, and you can avoid a fight altogether. Don’t like your current quest or your benefactor? Lure them away from town, then kill them and loot the body, if you so desire. You may be at war with an entire town afterwards, but it’s your choice. The human condition is reduced to its more feral form in Survivalist. Zombies play host to the game’s overall storyline, though they are hardly the real enemy.

Like The Walking Dead has prophesized before, the real danger in any post-apocalyptic scenario is the people around you. Traders won’t take pity on you or your concerns, and villagers won’t automatically trust you or readily give you work. Zombies are capable of plenty, but looters, often surly and well-armed, can take out your entire party in a hail of gunfire if you don’t play nice and / or have the proper loadout. Bandages are your friend, yes, but having party members with higher skills in medicine, weapons, etc., is just as valuable.

Survivalist - Screen2

Conversations can play out multiple ways.

So if it seems I’m painting a somewhat romantic portrait of this apocalypse, be forewarned— Survivalist is a massive undertaking, a game of extremely-incremental progress. Food, water, medicine, and supplies are always at the forefront of your community’s mind, and are absolutely essential to its survival. Residents will set off in search of these items as they are needed, though it’s always helpful to send search parties out to gather whenever possible (you can direct them to known stashes via the map). The vast distances between viable supplies, towns, and missions, though, can make this a risky proposition.

The game is difficult. Death waits around every corner and barren desert outcrop. Humans and zombies alike will track you and pursue you across the land. Staying put and resting on small successes is just as deadly. Both you and your people need constant upkeep (there’s a character that needs insulin on a regular basis), and that perpetual foraging means the game can start to feel unfair and more like a chore of micromanagement than actual fun.

Of course, it could be argued that this IS the end of the world as we know it, so, naturally, life would be unfair. And I guess you could always banish the weaker links from your community, because choices, man. That said, I would have liked the constant fear of starvation, thirst, and infection to be a little less, well, urgent. There’s plenty of other things in Survivalist that can kill you just as easily. Why spoil all that fun?

Looking past all the hardship, this is easily one the best survival-focused zombie games I’ve played. Save for some fairly-minor hiccups and technical issues, there is not a single serious reason to balk at the price. Survivalist is an intense experience, one of the most content-packed, feature-rich games on the indie channel. It is not to be missed.

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Review on The Indie Mine