Project Zomboid is a survival game where you don’t survive

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Not all survival games are about surviving, and early access indie game Project Zomboid applies that concept incredibly cleverly.

Unique among complex survival games, Zomboid Project is where players aren’t supposed to survive. The game even opens with a line of text saying that “This is the story of your death”, letting the player know exactly what to expect as they dive into this isometric zombie survival game. While the game, which is still in early access, might look like The Sims, Zomboid Project is a brutal but pleasant experience that is worth the detour.

Zomboid Project, developed by The Indie Stone, was first released on Steam in 2013 in Early Access. Although the game is still in early access at the time of writing, it’s because Zomboid Project has undergone several core system reworks that have only improved the game. Zomboid Project is definitely not one of those games.


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Players begin by creating their character and choosing a selection of traits that will change what players will need to prioritize in-game. There are also many preset builds themed around certain professions, some even providing unique starting items. While other hardcore survival games emphasize their trait systems, Zomboidare primarily there to tweak things slightly to work with different playstyles. Players won’t die in Zomboid due to their trait selection; they will die because it was their time.

survive in Zomboid Project comes down to managing a character’s health, supplies, and needs. Characters will be hungry, need to sleep, thirsty, bored, sad, and even get sick. These features are represented by sims-style icons that will appear whenever a need gets low enough. Negative moods can even impact each other, such as being too hot, causing characters to get thirsty faster. Without referencing a wiki or a guide, understanding how to deal with certain negative moods is a matter of experimentation.


Some of the simplest needs, like thirst or hunger, are less about experimentation and more about routine. Players will need to loot food, water, and other supplies when they first start. It won’t be too difficult at the start of the game, especially since things like electricity and plumbing will still be active. However, when players start looting some dry houses and eventually utilities shut down, getting water and food will become much more difficult.

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It’s there that ZomboidThe complexity is really starting to shine. Characters can learn new skills by doing them or reading certain books, as these skills are essential for long-term survival. For example, players can harvest seeds from produce to plant and grow, giving them a renewable source of food. First Aid is another skill to learn that will help characters better deal with injuries they suffer from. Wounds happen to be handled by their own subsystem, with something as simple as a bacteria-infected cut being fatal.



A house shrouded in fog in Project Zomboid.

Zomboid is a simple game that becomes much more complex as players try to survive longer. Although it is possible to get out Zomboid Project just by scavenging supplies and looting houses, there are very few water sources in the game once utilities shut down and non-canned goods will eventually spoil. There are only a limited number of houses to loot in the game, which means characters only live on borrowed time.

Zomboid Project works like a survival game where the goal is not to survive because death encourages players to learn from their mistakes. While some random events exist to move the undead hordes around the game world, most deaths will be due to something players have or haven’t done. There are always things to learn and ways to survive longer, but the game doesn’t want players to take this idea of ​​survival too seriously either.


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ZomboidThe take on the usually over-the-top undead trope works incredibly well with how it handles survival. While they can certainly pose a significant threat, most failures won’t be due to a zombie killing a character. The massive hordes of zombies provide a source of tension that makes even the simplest decisions difficult to make, and it is precisely here that the real threat of small mistakes in Zomboid jump up.

A mistake can easily be fatal, especially when it comes to injury or illness. Get sick early in Zomboid Project is truly a life or death situation since players likely won’t have the correct medical supplies they need to heal themselves. While complex skills and subsystems certainly have their own learning curves, mastery Zomboid Project comes down to knowing what to do when things go wrong. Everything in the game is designed to survive with the right knowledge and a bit of luck.


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