Project Zomboid is an open world survival game taking place in a zombie infested apocalypse. Explore Kentucky suburbs searching for loot, while leveling skills, crafting, and building a base. Hordes of zombies force players to work together, until they inevitably die.
|Publisher: The Indie Stone
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Pros: +Extensive, simple crafting system. +Realistic zombie survival. +Customizable sandbox mode.
Cons: -Limited character customization. -Top-down graphics makes PvP difficult. -Clunky combat.
Project Zomboid Overview
Project Zomboid is a top-down open world survival game set in the zombie apocalypse. It is one of the most realistic undead survival games available. Create a character with unique traits by selecting a profession, or design an unemployed character and selecting from a wide range of traits. Both positive and negative traits must be balanced when creating your character, forcing players adapt to their avatar to survive the zombie infestation. Scavenge the suburbs of Kentucky, in search of supplies and weapons to protect yourself. Learn new skills and gain experience, hardening yourself to the crumbling of civilization. Fortify your base to protect your goods from roaming hordes of zombies. An extensive crafting system lets you build, cook, farm, and more. Survive with other players in player-run servers, or fight to the death amidst the piling bodies of the undead. How long will you survive in Project Zomboid?
- Trait and skill system - different character professions allot unique bonuses, with positive and negative traits that must be weighed—creating new playthroughs each time.
- Challenge modes - survive treacherous scenarios in this game mode, such as surviving a winter map while sick and bleeding or outlasting an invasion of zombies at the mall.
- Realistic zombie apocalypse - survive zombie hordes, scavenge for supplies, and learn trades as a dynamic world’s civilization slowly crumbles.
- Sandbox mode - customize nearly every aspect of your game, from zombie movement speed to loot respawns and how well zombies sense your presence, among many other options.
- Extensive crafting and building system - learn trades such as cooking and farming, fortify a base by barricading windows and creating new buildings to protect yourself.
Project Zomboid Screenshots
Project Zomboid Featured Video
Project Zomboid Review
By, Sean Sullivan
Very few survival games featuring zombies feel like a zombie apocalypse. The undead end up like props in an amusement park, cutouts that evoke a blasé feeling. But Project Zomboid isn’t like other survival games. In Kentucky cities, reanimated corpses are a constant threat. While-slow moving they can quickly overrun reckless players. As you scavenge items from your former neighbor’s homes one eye will always be peering over your shoulder. The air in Project Zomboid is electrified by an unyielding sense of tension. It’s a game where you survive one moment at a time, and a wrong move culminates in your death. Each playthrough begins with, “How long will you survive?” I was determined to leave that question open-ended.
Nobody is perfect. And the developers at The Indie Stone recognize that human-beings are imperfect creatures. When building your character you’re forced to accept the good and the bad. After creating your unique avatar, consisting of a small selection of choices such as skin color, hair color, and sparse clothing options, you're tasked with determining your character’s proficiencies and faults from a list of available traits. If I want “Donald Porter” to be Lucky, Thick Skinned, and an Outdoorsman, then he must also be Claustrophobic, becoming panicked while indoors. Each trait is assigned a point value, either negative or positive corresponding with its benefit or disadvantage. And when building your character you want to be balanced at "0."
It’s a refreshing way to approach character creation, creating a new experience with each character. Perhaps, on one playthough you decide to make your character Deaf, allowing you to have more positive traits but also rendering you prone to sneaky undead. Or maybe you’re Illiterate, so you can’t reap learning bonuses from books but you're an Adrenaline Junkie, allowing you to move faster while panicked. The breadth of available traits may be too much for new players, but no worries, there are a wide range of occupations to choose from with predesignated traits, such as Repairman or Fitness Instructor. Each occupation is geared to make certain aspects of the game more accessible from the beginning; they don’t limit how you choose to play, as you can develop the skills you want. I chose to play as a Park Ranger with a Hearty Appetite.
After entering the game world—and being told you’re going to die—you’re tasked with arming yourself with loot to survive the coming days of doom. Starting in a trailer I tore a bedsheet to make bandages as a precaution, and then raided the kitchen, stuffing my pockets with cans of beans and equipping myself with a sturdy frying pan, still stained with oil from the previous owners last meal. A zombie was flinging his head at the front door like a rabid giraffe; I opted to exit through the back window. Smashing it open with my frying pan, I climbed through but cut myself on the jagged edges. Bleeding profusely, I faced two equally surprised zombies. Panicked, I ran.
You have to break into homes through their windows, as most Kentuckians locked their doors when Channel 5 reported the dawn of the dead. Pressing “E” at a window will test your luck as you pull on the frame. Some windows are stubborn and refuse to open, while others slide with ease. But as you try your back is completely open to zombie attack so it's best to be cautious. Once inside you run the risk of setting off a house alarm, if there is one, alerting hordes of zombies to swarm your residence as I did on more than one occasion. The best advice is to keep moving while the reanimations mindlessly surround the home.
I’m a sucker for retro art styles, so Project Zomboid captivated my rotting heart with its top-down melange of Paper Boy and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. The simple graphics splashed with autumn colors echos the impending death of the small town inhabitants, if they’re not already turned. While the game’s menu music evokes some ancient passage from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and a sad piano forms a mimesis of the melancholy that should have rendered your character unable leave their house. Zach Beever's soundtrack is fantastic at capturing the apocalyptic tone. And the sound of salivating zombies groaning outside a wooden door, as you back into a corner waiting for the maneaters to break through, helpless, is just as terrifying as any horror game from a major studio.
The longer you survive the more human civilization around you dies. The gravel holding the roads together chips and fragments. Cracks run through buildings like veins; the Earth slowly reclaims the world humanity forged. Survive long enough, and water and electricity will be cut off, forcing you to find a well or die a slow and excruciating death. Heat, rain, and snow pummel at you with the same ferocity as zombies. At the end you are not only the last person, but the last remnant of humanity.
For every action you take in Project Zomboid you increase your proficiency, whether it's beating zombies senselessly with a Louisville slugger or stir frying salmon in an oven no one but you has a use for. Using the bat I become more proficient with Blunt weapons, increasing Accuracy, Guard, and Maintenance. But to actually level up those areas I have to throw a point into them. And a skill point is earned every 100 experience accumulated. In the same way, experience is allotted for every action you take, but the skill point can be applied to anything. As I cooked every piece of meat I came across, whether in my frying pan or just plopping a salmon in the oven, I earned cooking proficiency. After earning 100 xp I unlocked level 1 cooking, enabling me to increase the hunger reduction of my meals as an apocalyptic chef. But I also could have thrown that point into Blunt-Maintenance, allowing my baseball bat to dish out more beatings before it breaks.
As you gather resources you’re going to inevitably end up crafting; you can’t survive by scavenging forever. The world is eventually depleted of resources. Plus, when the electricity goes out all the meals in dead citizen's refrigerators are going to expire. You’re going to have to farm, cut down trees to fortify a base, and learn to cook, unless you choose to give up. It’s simple enough, though scavenging resources at the start can be difficult. It'll take a couple of play-throughs before you're able to build a worthwhile base. Experienced players have built some impressive forts, complete with a widow’s walk to snipe intruding zombies.
And the game provides plenty of inventive ways to use collected materials beyond crafting professions. Trapped in a second floor bedroom, zombies were swarming my door, knocking at it with maggot-spewing knuckles while groaning for a cup of sugar. I had to get out. Finding two sheets and some nails, I was able to craft a rope and rappel out of the second story window, just as the door slammed open in a storm of splinters. From the bottom floor, I used the leftover nails to make a Nail Bat, and slaughtered every single undead that had intruded into my neighbors house.
Combat is very simple. You hold “Ctrl” to ready your weapon and then left-click to swing or fire away. Melee combat is dangerous. One zombie can be shoved away with ease, but a group of four or five can easily swarm you, cutting your movement speed, and your life. And it only takes one scratch to infect you. You may escape the horde, but as the virus slowly coarses through your veins, you're left to die. And guns aren’t much better. It takes skill to wield anything other than a shotgun, and the bang of a fired bullet attracts every shuffling corpse to your location. Unless you intend to clear an entire area, don’t fire a gun. I made that mistake in a fenced off backyard; hundreds of zombies quickly swarmed to my location and I couldn’t reload fast enough to take them all out.
Playing online is more like going to summer camp than Battle Royale. The game’s camera angle makes it difficult to shoot players from afar. So you’re left to melee combat, or guessing where to shoot into the distance. If you do take a few bullets you’ll need hard-to-find medical supplies to remove them, or you’ll bleed out soon enough. I preferred to play on a PvE server, cooperating to survive. When people work together and specialize in professions, you can build a prodigious fort and survive the apocalypse much more easily than by yourself. It’s a fun multiplayer experience, one that motivates cooperation by its design. Most survival games become a PvP festival, like Ark: Survival Evolved or Rust. But Project Zomboid's camera angle and zombie swarms are enough to motivate players to stop pointing guns at each other, and turn to the undead.
Final Verdict - Excellent
No other games captures the intensity of an undead apocalypse, incorporating a realistic approach to surviving by scavenging, and learning new trades to live off the land as resources dwindle and civilization returns to the Earth. You have to think tactically, prudently setting up your camp. Shortsighted players rarely survive more than three months. Project Zomboid is unforgiving, so working together may be your best bet. It’s not a game designed for raiding and PvP, but motivates players to work together as increasing numbers of zombie hordes patrol the landscape. I cannot sing Project Zomboid’s praises enough. If you like survival simulators, crafting, and exploration, then Project Zomboid is the pinnacle of the zombie survival genre.
Project Zomboid Videos
Project Zomboid Links
Project Zomboid System Requirements
Operating System: Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
CPU: Intel 2.77 GHz Quad Core or equivalent
Video Card: OpenGL 2.1 compatible dedicated graphics card (GeForce 6600/Radeon 9500)
RAM: 2 GB
Hard Disk Space: 1.23 GB
Project Zomboid is Mac OS X and SteamOS + Linux compatible.
Project Zomboid Music & Soundtrack
Project Zomboid Additional Information
Developer(s): The Indie Stone
Publisher(s): The Indie Stone
Distributor(s): Valve Corporation (Steam)
Engine: In-house Engine
Director(s): Andy "Binky" Hodgetts, Marina "Mash" Siu-Chong, Will "Velvet Owl" Porter, Chris "Lemmy" Simpson
Programmer(s): Chris "Lemmy" Simpson, Romain Dron, Tim Baker, Andy "Binky" Hodgetts, Paul Ring
Artist(s): Marina "Mash" Siu-Chong, Andy "Binky" Hodgetts
Writer(s): Will "Velvet Owl" Porter
Composer(s): Zach Beever
Other Platform(s): Linux, OS X
Alpha Release Date: April 25, 2011
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Steam Release Date: November 8, 2013
Development History / Background:
Project Zomboid is developed by independent video game development team The Indie Stone. The game was first released as a tech demo on April 25, 2011, and was available through Desura. On October 15, 2011 the apartment of two developers was burgled and laptops containing a large amount of the game’s code were stolen, resulting in severe delays. Project Zomboid became available through Steam Early Access on November 8, 2013. Multiplayer became available on February 10, 2014, and is now available through an in-game server browser. Build 32 of Project Zomboid was released on June 29, 2015.