We all know it's going to happen. Whether it's a virus released by a mad scientist (like there's any other kind, right?), an ill-conceived bio-weapon, or simply the consequence of there being no room left in hell, the dead will walk the earth and mayhem will ensue.
Nomenclature isn't important here, we could be facing zombies, walkers, zeds, infected, or any other brand of undead. What is important is archetypes. All of our data shows that the first enemies we encounter are almost certain to be of the slow, stumbling variety. In small numbers they shouldn't pose too much of a threat, but don't underestimate them. If you find yourself surrounded, try walking up some stairs or entering a different room (thanks, Resident Evil).
The ones to watch are the special types of infected; those who’ve undergone a slightly different mutation that resulted in traits such as increased speed, superhuman strength and/or the ability to spit corrosive goo. Ideally, you'd want to tackle these creatures from a distance, but, given that may not be an option...
Everything is a weapon
If the tragedy at Willamette taught us anything, it's that everyday objects can be used to smash, bash and decapitate. Further entries in the Dead Rising franchise took this premise even further and there's no reason why you shouldn't, too.
You might be unlucky enough to find yourself in a location completely devoid of razor-sharp katanas, though all isn’t lost - with a little tinkering and a lot of duct tape, you can create a weapon capable of cleaving numerous rotters in twain with a single swipe. Provided a little more elbow grease, you might even turn the hardiest of brutes into a chunky paste. Remember that we’re making use of everything, so do make sure to spread some of that viscera on your friends and loved ones to act as camouflage. They'll thank you for it later (much, much later).
Dig in, get comfortable and hope for rescue
Various governments around the world will no doubt be aware of the situation and there's a good-to-fair chance of military involvement, depending on the severity of the crisis.
It could take merely hours for a plan to be executed, or the pandemic could be so widespread that help just isn't coming. There's probably no way of knowing, so your best bet is to find somewhere defensible and reinforce the shit out of it.
Once that's done, you can periodically send out teams to scavenge supplies. Anyone who's spent time with State of Decay (or the sequel) will know it's prudent to set up a garden to grow food, in case you're in it for the long haul. Carrots would be good to start, as they're both nutritious and pointy, and people without a shred of decency can use them to ruin cake for everyone.
We were the monsters all along
By this point, if you’ve followed our steps correctly, you'll have a rundown hellhole to call home and all the tools necessary to defend it. Sturdy barricades and guard towers will keep you and yours separated from all but the most determined of undead hordes. You are safe. That is, until they come.
They could be the army you hoped would restore order, a crazed band of survivors with a penchant for looting and pillaging, or a once-timid Staff Writer who grew sick of following society's rules and now craves sheer chaos...
If whoever comes knocking is armed with weapons more offensive than carrot cake (or actual carrot cake), take that as an immediate sign that they don’t have good intentions. Generally the violence won’t stop until one party has been obliterated, so use everything you’ve learned so far to make sure it's not yours.
Yes, the real monsters are the ones who look just like you and me. Although, probably more like me.
If you've made it this far, you're now equipped with all of the knowledge you'll need to survive a zombie apocalypse. Congratulations! Stay safe out there and sound off below with any of your own survival tips.
Welcome, welcome, one and all to a dark and dangerous evening filled with cards, strange characters, initially dense gameplay ideas and bags of longevity. Was ist das? Well, Alexis Kennedy’s new game, Cultist Simulator, of course.
What about the presentation?
We had the game running at highest settings (though can’t imagine there’s a huge difference between presets in this instance), and although there’s not a great deal going on, it’s quite lovely. Both the table and cards have muted, pastel-y colours that really complement the cracking sound effects and music.
It’s nearly £15 quid on Steam; is that too much?
No, not at all. We’ve played our fair share (and more) of overpriced, average indie games, but this really isn’t one of them. The branching narrative paths are a delight and the deep gameplay systems beg for repeat play - if you’ve got a PC, we implore you to have a crack at this mysterious gem.
A lot’s changed since I first played We Happy Few, more than two years ago now, to offer an optimistic first look that ran counter to the backlash surrounding its strict implementation of survival mechanics. Most notably, Gearbox Publishing picked the game up and provided a substantial cash injection, inflating the size of developer Compulsion Games (since bought by Microsoft) and the scope of the project alongside it. While having moved to scale back the controversial survival elements makes We Happy Few read slightly less like a commentary on its player base, finally allowing them to appreciate its retrofuturist dystopia at their leisure, it’s anything but scaled back in other areas and that comes at a cost.
While scaling back the controversial survival elements makes We Happy Few read slightly less like a commentary on its player base, it’s anything but scaled back in other areas and that comes at a cost.
Many of the hours spent with Arthur are devoted to unravelling the dark alternate history of this psychedelic take on post-war Britain, where, with the Germans victorious, a defeated government prescribe their downtrodden population mood-altering drugs in order to ward off nationwide depression. Its unsettling premise and biting cultural commentary are effectively put across by minutely detailed environments and a fantastic script, delivered by a committed cast that convincingly sell the whole crazy shebang. Absorbing the fiction that first time through is a little bit special, but not so the second and third when you’ve already been there and done that.
In a fittingly bizarre twist, perhaps the greatest motivator in progressing through the bonkers variety of missions is to fix a number of glaring design nuisances. It’s essentially a tacit admission of guilt that the most expensive upgrades serve to bypass obtrusive gameplay conceits - like not mirroring social norms or adhering to a curfew turning all NPCs hostile, prompting drawn-out chase sequences reliant on finicky stealth to escape - making for legitimately powerful motivation to keep playing, whilst, at the same time, being a damning judgement of the systems you’re so eager to nix.
Having to once again adhere to these unreasonable standards when you take on the role of each fresh-faced protagonist comes as a crushing blow, though working your way back to a decent quality of life at least doesn’t take as long with higher paying rewards being dished out in the later stages. You’re extended a similar sort of half-courtesy when it comes to rebuilding an inventory, though not to the extent that you aren’t required to rummage through every cabinet, desk and drawer in order to properly deck yourself out with the crafted kit you’ll need to re-engage with the more satisfying elements of combat.
Further to that, the town of Wellington Wells procedurally regenerates between acts, throwing your internal compass off and failing to make contextual sense when overlapping story events now unfold in different locations. It’s obviously there for variety’s sake, having already endured plenty of backtracking through the map’s previous incarnation, but needing to rediscover areas and fast travel points is an egregious example of artificial padding.
In a fittingly bizarre twist, perhaps the greatest motivator in progressing through the bonkers variety of missions is to fix a number of glaring design nuisances.
Delaying players is doubly counterproductive when it also presents time for the numerous technical issues to rear their heads. We Happy Few recently received a patch enabling of Xbox One X support, noticeably sharpening the visuals while failing to address the bevy of infinitely more pressing performance issues. Glitches, dropped frames, agonising load times and horrific crashes - which can shut your console down completely - are frequent occurrences that, as they say, make the struggle real.
Despite all that - perhaps because I’m in the unique position of working in Quality Assurance and so am used to tackling worse on the regular - We Happy Few is, much like State of Decay, a broken solo survival game that I can’t help but love. If you aren’t as tolerant - which, let’s be honest, you don’t need to be when there are so many great games on the market - Compulsion have produced an exquisite world that’s often dull to exist in and, thus, hard to recommend you pay a visit.
It gets said so often that it’s fast becoming cliché, but We Happy Few really is a game that would’ve been better served as non-interactive media. The acquisition of movie rights by dj2 Entertainment is a shrewd move then, as the shorter cinema format should help eliminate the temptation to implement a grab bag of ideas without fully bringing them to fruition.
I don’t doubt that the eagerness to shove more and more content into the package largely came from a place of passion, but it makes a strong case for the editing process when things are stretched so transparently thin; We Happy Few could’ve been an exponentially more engaging experience if boiled down to its striking core concepts, cutting away two thirds of its swollen structure to focus on Arthur’s story, with Sally and Ollie serving in greater support roles. Compulsion, Gearbox and the industry as a whole need to realise that more isn’t inherently better, because no game’s worth is decided by its runtime.