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E3 2013 | “How to Survive” Puts the Survival Back In Horror

Posted on June 14, 2013 AT 11:01am

Surviving the zombie apocalypse seems to be something that is on a lot of people’s minds. Even in video games, it seems like there are quite a few titles that mainly focus on staying alive after the undead take over the Earth. Most of the time, the focus of this is making sure you’ve got the wares to be able to protect yourself from the masses of ghouls. While this is certainly important, there is one part that I feel is often overlooked: your basic survival needs. This is a fact that How to Survive takes into account to provide you with a more immersive zombie survival experience.

Throwing you onto a deserted island, How to Survive is a top-down zombie game with a focus on basic survival needs and resource management. After washing up on shore, you wake up and must immediately scavenge for supplies to help you survive. In the game, you have meters representing not only your health, but your hunger, tiredness and thirst. This means that simply fending off the undead is not enough; you have to hunt for food, find a water supply and a safe place to get some shuteye. If any of these bars are neglected, then the impact will be shown in the performance of the character. For instance, if you’re hungry, you might not have as strong a swing with your melee weapon.

For tips on survival, books can be found throughout the environment that, when found, play awesome tongue-in-cheek videos. These videos feature a mad scientist giving you tips on various methods of survival on the deserted island.

One of the best features of the game is the robust crafting system. Once you start, you get a brief tutorial on how to craft items and after that it’s up to you to experiment to find the rest of the permutations of items. In my play-through, I found a stick, a bendable branch, twine and a rusty machete on the beach. I took the bendable branch and combined it with the twine to make a bow. I then sharpened the stick with the machete to make an arrow, shot a bird with the arrow and combined a feather with my arrows to get feathered arrows. What I love about this system, is once you’ve combined something, you’re not nearly done. Things can be continually added to and improved upon and without any guides it’s all up to you to figure out what works. This adds a sense of discovery that just isn’t present in a lot of games nowadays.

Four characters are available to choose from when you start the game and each has their own stats and skill tree available to them. Whenever you slash dead a member of the undead horde, you gain experience which, when enough is gained to level up, allows you another point to apply to your skill tree and a stat increase. This adds yet another layer of progression on top of the crafting system to deepen the experience even further.

Another major part of surviving on the island comes during night time. There are special zombies that only come out at night, that are more tough than the normal bunch. These undead do have a weakness though: one blast from your flashlight will stun them and eventually make them flee. Make sure to try and take them out while they’re stunned though, because they’ll be back to flank you from behind. There were two other kinds of zombies in the demo I played: the normal kind, slow and lumbering, and a giant kind that explodes when defeated. The latter is best handled with a ranged weapon, and can be used to clear out masses of undead if detonated strategically.

If you’re looking to go into the zombie apocalypse with a buddy, you’re in luck because this game also supports two-players. You can survive together online, on PS3 360 and PC via Steam, or locally on all platforms including Wii U. Learn to survive the zombie apocalypse when this game launches this Fall.

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