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The GoodAt first this game was very promising to me, from the second I booted it up it had my full attention. The reason for this was a very interesting opening which instantly set the tone for the rest of the game, a tone I like to refer to as "genuinely fucking scary". Unlike Resident Evil 4 and Left 4 Dead, this game actually serves you with a very horrifying atmosphere; areas are gruesome, monsters look distorted and the sound-effects send chills down your spine. I can easily see this game turning into the next main horror franchise.
Gameplay nicely balances fighting and hiding when you encounter monsters, unlike Amnesia: The Dark Descent. There are several hiding spots which you can enter and guarantee that monsters won't see you. However, you also have a gun which is very effective against the monsters, but also runs out of ammo rather fast. This makes sure that, as the player, I am constantly reconsidering my options: Shall I shoot this zombie or sneak past him by luring him with some meat and save myself some ammo for later?
The game does a very good job at steering you towards the locations that progress the story, while not immediately grabbing you by the nose and dragging you through.There is always plenty of room to explore the many chambers and areas you get to visit for ammo and other supplies, but at the same time your map clearly displays the next main objective and the character frequently mentions his intentions.
The BadThe graphics have a very odd style that I haven't seen before, with which I am trying to say: "the game looks like absolute ass". Areas are hand-drawn, just like in Braid, but due to the pixelated aesthetic I can't make out any of it. Sometimes I'd even get headaches from having to concentrate on the very dark blocky graphics and this forced me to play the game in very short bursts.
The character has realistic needs, which means you will have to eat and sleep in order to stay alive. I agree that this is realistic, but the time it takes for him to remark on his hunger or sleep is certainly not. Sometimes you can barely walk across the hallway and back without him growing sleepy again and demanding you to return to home. Food is a slightly smaller problem because you can eat at any time, but it's still obnoxious when you're in the middle of combat and your character suddenly expresses his desire for some crackers.
A horror game is at its best when we can relate to the character and genuinely wish to keep him out of arm, on that note this game falls flat on its face. Aside from growing hungry or sleepy every ten minutes, the character is also not really informed on how survival works. On many occasions I ran into containers that maybe contained items that could be of use to me, but captain pancake here refused to search them because "This isn't mine". Not stealing items is definitely commendable, but not when the whole world is dead and trying to eat your face.
Quite often I didn't experience the game as been entertaining, but rather frustrating. Sure it's scary, sure the gameplay functions, but when I sneak and fight my way through four zombies, only to run out of ammo right after firing a single bullet at a zombie, there is no entertainment value to be found anymore. This specific problem relates back to the lack of a visual interface, but there are so many examples of frustrating moments in this game, such as thinking you're in a hallucination scene and can't actually die, only to find out this isn't the case.
To add salt to injury, there is no pause function. When you open your inventory or map the game just kind of goes on and all the zombies aren't polite enough to wait for you to finish your business. It reminded me of Resident Evil 5 in that regard, but in that game there was at least an actual pause button that did stop the game from moving on.
The Bottom LineThis game is the perfect simulation of what would happen if you were a mentally unstable person stuck in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. It's frustrating, obnoxious and it's likely to give you a good headache. A good atmosphere and functional gameplay are a good start for the game, but many of the design choices suck the fun out of the interaction and leave me with another abandoned game in my Steam list.
If you are a zombie fanatic then you can go ahead and give this a try, if you are not, then I would sooner recommend something like F.E.A.R. for your daily dose of horror.