This one I’ve had in my steam library for quite a while. I forget exactly what caused me to be interested in the game if it was just a random suggestion from Steam or if I just happened to see it on the feature list. In either case I took a leap on getting the game since it was and is, still in early access. Recently, I saw that they were coming out with a single player campaign to go with their sand box mode, and figured at this point, I’d review the current game before the campaign is released. Developed and produced by Numantian Games, you take control of a burgeoning colony on an unknown world and must survive against an endless wave of various zombies. Indeed, they are truly billions.
The game itself is a 4X style game with some rogue-like elements, explore the map, get resources, exterminate the undead all while the game is constantly auto saving your progress. By gathering resources and constructing a stable food supply and economy the player builds up their city. What prevents a single strategy from being employed is the map is procedurally generated changing resources, ground types and where there are undead villages. Because of this there are even maps that are just unplayable from the start, most likely missing trees or having resources that are too small to be worth building for. There is also the unfortunate games where you forget to stick someone with a pointy stick by a single narrow pass and a lone zombie converts your populace into an unstoppable death ball.
While the player is panicking over how he intends to feed his populace, there is one statistic that isn’t part of unit or building stats: noise. Everything in this game generates noise in a radius around a building or a unit. While soldiers are excellent fighters, being armored and dealing decent damage their drawback is every time they move and fire it’s like ringing a dinner bell to half the map. Industry buildings that unlock technology are particularly sadistic, in that you need them if you’re going to have any chance of surviving the game, but they also generate ludicrous amounts of noise. The colony literally dooms itself by building up their technology tree in the game.
There are plenty of little mechanics that are dependent on what generates on the map. An undead village next door to your fresh and new colony increases the challenge of building up an army capable of destroying it without making enough noise to activate it and spawn an endless wave of death. The giant zombie that ponders around near the edge of the map is constantly shown on the map, but when you’re more worried about the hundreds of little ones roaming the map, it’s easy to forget that fortification you just built has some shoddy materials in it, and the big guy lets you know his disdain by ripping it and the rest of your colony apart.
This game by far irritates me in ways that are difficult to explain that isn’t just me holding down the caps lock and smashing my face into the keyboard. It’s just as frustrating to make a mistake on day 9 as it is to lose the game on day 97. At the same time, I love this game in ways that I can’t explain. They’ve somehow managed to capture some terrible steampunk science magic that keeps pulling me back in to bash my head against the wall that is this game. While some situations might frustrate me into needing to stop myself from throwing my computer across my apartment, a few hours later I’m back in the game trying again. The game managed to be created from several cliche molds and cobble itself together into fun fast paced and incredibly enjoyable game. So if you’re a masochist and enjoy tormenting yourself while having a blast doing it at the same time, this is the perfect game. And don’t forget that the campaign is coming out on 6/18 and is included with the base game. I know what I’ll be playing then. Until next time (although next time is gonna be a while).