Zombies ate my clan members
Zombasite is the latest ARPG from indie development team Soldak, creators of similar titles such as Depths of Peril, Din’s Curse and Drox Operative. Building on and mixing concepts from those earlier titles while throwing in an undead twist has resulted in what is now their current project, which they’ve decided to allow fans to help tweak by releasing the game through Steam’s Early Access program.
At first glance, the game may seem like another click and kill fest similar to other ARPG’s of its kind, such as Diablo or Fate, but there are a few other mechanics in play that help keep players busy. The most notable ones being the warring clans and town management aspect, which are both as important to success as murdering mobs of monsters. When starting up the game, you’ll be given 8 classes to choose from, with typical fantasy fare types like warrior, wizard and conjurer being just a few to choose from.
To help keep things interesting though, the option to combine skills from two different classes to form a hybrid is available, but this does come at the cost of losing an extra skill tree the base classes would otherwise have. Once you’ve chosen your character and created a clan, you’ll start in a new randomly generated world to explore, with monsters, items and quests being rearranged for each new area.
As mentioned above, the clan and town management feature is an important one because things you do and don’t do out in the game world affect your personal clan as well as the others. Failing to stop an attacking group of monsters, not having enough food or not properly dealing with zombie infected members can damage your own clan as well as your relationship with other ones. Too many bad choices can lead to wars with other clans, which means more enemies to deal with but also more chances for loot and xp. While this dynamic certainly helps make the game world feel like it’s going on without your direct interference, it does lead to a lot of micromanaging and can also seem like a lot to juggle, especially early on. Failure isn’t the end, though, since you can easily begin a new area with the same character and continue with a better understanding of the mechanics.
The core gameplay is nothing new. Simply clicking on enemies and pressing the properly assigned keys to perform special skills is a lot of what you’ll be doing when not dealing with the clan or town features. The simplicity makes it easy to get into, and the special attacks you unlock through leveling can help keep things interesting, but ultimately the monotonous nature of it will sink in sooner rather than later. Fortunately, the game does offer co-op, so teaming up with friends can help when the feeling of repetition begins to show. The interface can feel rather cluttered, but having played many games of this type, this has more or less become something to expect given all the item and skill management one will have to deal with. Anybody who’s played similar games should quickly adjust, and those new to it can figure it out through many of the tips the game displays along the way, which detail seemingly everything you’d need to know. With that said, inventory management, specifically clearing space, felt like far more of a chore than it should be in a game where you’ll constantly be finding new items.
Presentation wise is where the game leaves more to be desired. The graphics have a significantly outdated look to them, with bland colors and poor quality textures along with very basic designs for character and environment models. The sound effects and soundtrack are fitting to the setting but nonetheless feel uninspired and will likely grow tiresome in the massive amount of playtime the game intends players to rack up. The randomly generated areas do help with this to an extent, but after a while similar areas start to become more noticeable, and the only things that stand out are the fact one area might be a cave setting as opposed to a forest setting.
If you’re considering giving the game a try, there’s a few factors to keep in mind apart from it still being a work in progress. If you’ve played the previous titles from Soldak and have grown tired of them or didn’t enjoy them in the first place, Zombasite is more of the same, so your impressions aren’t likely to change. On the flip side, if you’ve spent many hours in those titles and are craving more, you’ll likely want to check out Zombasite since it takes aspects from all those games while adding a few new unique features of its own, such as the town system. If you’re new to Soldak’s games but not the genre, waiting for the full retail release may be the better choice since things you find in the game may be gone or different down the line. However, if you feel the need to jump in right now, you can find the game on Steam Early Access for $14.99.