How To Survive preview: undead island

How To Survive takes a top-down dungeon crawler and mixes in elements of basic survival and an intuitive crafting system. Oh, and zombies. Lots of zombies.

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You're stranded on an island. Oh, and that island is filled with zombies. How To Survive might not be the most unique idea in the world, but the latest from 505 Games and EKO Studios makes up for that lack of originality with some interesting top-down dungeon crawling gameplay elements.

Players can select between three survivors: Abbie, Jack, and Kenji, each with their own skill trees. As players continue to survive, they'll be able to adapt to the growing challenge of living on the island.

Characters wake up abandoned on the beach with few surviving humans nearby. They'll ask the player to complete some fetch quests, in order to earn essential supplies. Players will encounter different breeds of zombies as they journey across the island during the day, all of which can be taken down with a variety of weaponry. However, nightfall is a different story. Nights will bring out near-unkillable breeds of undead, who can only be held at bay by fire. Players can opt to travel around at night with a torch, though they risk it running out and leaving them vulnerable, or simply stop and set up a campfire at an appropriate stop.

Keeping your strength up is essential in How To Survive. Players will often be prompted to eat, drink water, and sleep. If any of these necessities are lacking, players may lack the strength to fight off creatures or make a hasty retreat. Food and water sources are scarce, but can be found throughout the game's islands. Players can only sleep in secure shacks, lest any zombies or wild animals pick on dozing survivors. These survival elements add an interesting wrinkle to an otherwise straightforward dungeon crawler.

How to Survive shines through its crafting system, which allows players to experiment with weapon parts however they desire. Players will never encounter completed weapons and firearms, as everything must be constructed from found objects and spare parts. Ingenuity is rewarded, as players can even construct advanced weaponry, as long as they have the proper ingredients. For example, a harpoon grip, diving tacs, a flared tube, and a hardware box will combine to create a shotgun. Items can be combined and dismantled repeatedly without penalty. Other weapons include bows, spears, and even chainsaws.

505 Games production coordinator Michael Greening points out that How To Survive has been largely under the radar since its last public appearance at E3. The time has been spent polishing features and fixing bugs and their efforts show. Yet in spite of the polish, we can see it becoming repetitive down the line. Hopefully, that's not the case.

How To Survive is coming soon to PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U as a downloadable title.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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