Louisiana: home of Mardi Gras, the New Orleans Saints, gumbo, Creole, Cajun and now zombies. But not just any zombies, these are “we’ve been training for cross country track” zombies. The kind that runs, and jumps for their brain food. But it doesn’t stop at human corpses; everything that once had a pulse is now infected: birds, alligators, dogs and more.
Are you starting to feel a sense of panic? Does that panic feel familiar? Say hello to the sequel to 2013’s How to Survive, where players are thrown into the world of zombies.
There is no backstory as to what happened to cause this apocalypse, but that’s not the goal nor is it important. Your role here is simple: survive and run like hell.
In How to Survive 2, you once again play as an uninfected human just trying to stay alive, this time it’s in Louisiana, which is more overpopulated by the undead than America’s housing system. In this fast-paced crafting survival zombie game, fans will be introduced to new maps, characters, modes, weapons and survival tips. You’ll be equipped with everything from a gun to a bared-wired bat to help protect you from being tonight’s dinner.
When it comes to protecting your body from attacks, there’s a very homegrown feel to it, barbed wire for your bat, umpire looking knee and elbow guards, sport helmets to keep your panicked face bite mark free. All hail to that sports memorabilia taking up space in the garage.
When you’re not being attacked, you need to spend your time creating items to kill and hunt, looking for shelter, keeping your vitals in check, and making sure you don’t die from a heart attack. Yes, there will be heart attacks.
Unlike other survival horror games, How to Survive 2 doesn’t let you breathe. Your entire experience is spent trying to balance an array of mechanics all at once, while constantly trying to stave off random attacks from zombies even when the game is paused. This can become very exhausting especially when you’re just trying to navigate the menu or use the bathroom.
Fortunately, the game relies on more than just running and fighting. Yay, for versatility! In the levels played, time was spent mastering the mechanics of the game, gaining experience and learning the basics of surviving. However, the combat style becomes tedious for it is rather basic; it all boils down to hitting the undead with your customizable weapon or shooting them. Sigh.
Luckily, the game also uses missions to diversify the gameplay. The land itself is deadly and will try to kill you. When you’re not running from the land itself, you’ll need to complete various tasks throughout the map, such as finding specific items; searching through cars, and buildings. However, certain tasks can make the surrounding zombies very upset and they will gang up on you. The sound of a car alarm or light is music to their decaying ears.
The additional maps are rich in diversity and showcase the infamous Louisiana territory. The swamplands are thick and deep, walking or even running through them is a chore. Now try this while being chased down by alligators that will masterfully swim their corpses towards your AI flesh. The weather and time also changes as well. A rainy day can quickly become a clear night; even a storm will affect visibility.
The graphics for the game are rather simple. Crisp and vibrant coloring does not live here. Instead, your screen will be filled with muted colors, mostly of the tan variety. As you walk past buildings, trees or lamp posts, they seem to disappear into the frame, representing the decaying state of things. When passing by walls, you’re able to see the silhouette of a zombie, making it easier to strike your target yet removing an element of surprise from the game.
How to Survive 2 is fun, if not exhausting. When you complete a level there’s a sense of pride, a celebration well earned. The bare bones mechanics and simplicity coupled with the monotony of the game is cleverly masked by the sheer panic of the 28 Days Later-kind zombies. While the game isn’t perfect, its worthy of checking out and just might win you over or kill you in the process.
How to Survive 2 launches via Steam Early Access in October.