The "Zombie Apocalypse" has happened. Would you know how to survive? Considering the amount of zombie movies, books, and games out there you might have a good idea. Still, the game How to Survive would like to provide some pointers. Remember the golden rule, aim for the head.
You have shipwrecked on one island of a small archipelago. It quickly becomes apparent that something is wrong as there are dead bodies everywhere and one person barely clinging to life. The survivor explains that they too have become shipwrecked on these island and they are infested with undead monsters. He explains that there is another from his group that is alive on the island and can help you to get away. After pointing you in the right direction he gives you your first weapon, a stick, and asks that you come back for him soon. As you work your way across the island you find pages from a book titled "How to Survive" by a man named Kovac.
The story is a bit thin, but there is enough here to provide a guide to what ultimately becomes an item hunt.
Controls and Gameplay
How to Survive is an isometric action adventure game with role-playing game elements. It controls feel similar to a twin-stick shooter, but without the auto-fire. As the title says, your main goal is to survive. You begin by learning how to fight and craft weapons, armor, and first aid. As you progress, you find you also have to take care of yourself by eating, drinking fresh water, and sleeping. That means foraging for fruit and plants, hunting game, and finding wells and safe shelters. Not only do the pages of the in-game book, "How to Survive," help, but eventually you meet the author, the mysterious Kovac.
Combat is fairly simple. With melee weapons like the stick, and later a machete, you apply liberally on a monster until dead. Ranged weapons, such as bows and homemade guns you aim and fire. The longer you hold the aim before firing, the more accurate the shot; hold it long enough and you will get a perfect head shot. All of the weapons you create have base models that as you scavenge more pieces for, you can upgrade to better weapons.
The crafting system is pretty good. You find "recipes" that instruct you how to combine items in a specific order to get a final product. In the case of weapons, you can disassemble and then add parts to improve and upgrade them.
The game can be played cooperatively and it leans that way in the difficulty. I have been able to play it single player, but there has been some instances where I died a lot in one spot before I was able to carry on.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics are a tad dated, but good. Some things are too small to pick out. For example, the basic healing plant blends in really well with the rest of the brush, so you find yourself carefully going over areas so as not to miss a thing.
The voice actors are good, but none really stand out, except for the gentleman that voices Kovac. You hear him the most because each chapter of the book "How to Survive" becomes animated short narrated by him. Granted he's playing a clichéd jovial Russian, but he is playing the role with such vigor that you kind of want to hang out and kill zombies with him.
How to Survive is a cliché driven story. Parts of the game are blatantly obvious as to what is going to happen next. Even so the gameplay is fun. It's not going to set the world on fire, but it's good, solid and rewarding; just like most zombie related entertainment these days. You and a friend can play through the story and challenges in less than a day.
How to Survive is not great but it is fun enough to keep me in the game to see it through. I rate it a 3.5 out of 5.
How to Survive is rated M for Mature for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
For more information see the How to Survive web site.