A few months ago, I reviewed an ambitious early-access game known as Zombasite. I was quite impressed with it back then, a title with staggering depth and a very low learning curve, where you could participate however you liked. It had an interesting mechanic with warring clans and an impending zombie apocalypse, and it was a lot of fun. It also had a lot of problems, some serious UI issues, and a definite problem with being overwhelmingly huge. It also couldn't quite make up its mind as to what kind of game it wanted to be, instead deciding to be all of them at once.
I am proud to report that some of these problems have been fixed. While the game itself has changed very little from the beginning to the final project, and some parts are just ridiculous (the huge game world size, for example, even on tiny), Zombasite is pretty much the same as it was back then, but with some major fixes.
For those who didn't read the earlier review, however, allow me to explain a little about the game. Zombasite is a hybrid 4X, real-time, Action, and Roleplaying game. You lead your clan into battle against other clans on an isometric Diablo-style map, attempt diplomacy, and hope to rid the world of zombies by developing a cure or eradicating the parasite causing the dead to rise. You also have to balance relations between clan members, manage your clan's food supply, and build stronger defenses as you go.
Further heightening the tension is the constantly ticking clock. There's always a chance that your archnemesis will open a portal to Hell, or that your clan members may inexplicably burn your settlement to the ground, or that the people you're trying to rescue so they join your clan will end up instead getting killed by wild animals, leaving you high and dry.
I initially said that the game was too large, but for my first release playthrough, I instead decided to set the world to "tiny." While "tiny" is apparently still massive enough to contain tens of factions and subfactions and zombies, I found the reduced map a lot more manageable now that I didn't have to make the trek from Mount Doom and back every time I wanted to complete a quest. Also helping things, quests can now be completed from your questlog, also reducing backtracking.
However, some things are still glaring flaws. The help system will quickly swamp you with notifications, and since there is no tutorial, you are dependent solely on them to figure out exactly what in God's name is going on. The subsystems other than that are kind of byzantine, with no real concrete way to figure out how to advance your clan, war on other clans, or any of that. Durability and repairs are similarly arcane, requiring you to travel all over the place. And further complicating matters, finding a gate back before your clanmates kill each other kind of makes things unnecessarily complicated.
But in the end, Zombasite is a good game. One that will probably lost on most, one that's most fun when you're not trying to make sense of a bunch of things and instead go off to whack a bunch of zombies on the head, figure out how to make health potions cure infections, and recruit a blacksmith or two, but a good game nonetheless. It's weird in a very charming fashion. If you are patient with it, then it's one of the most rewarding titles (and definitely among the most rewarding indie titles) you will play this year.
Reviewer received a free copy of this game in exchange for a review.