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Zomboid Project is one of the few horror game races that answers the question “could you survive this in real life?” With a happy “of course not, fool”.

First released on Steam Greenlight in 2013, Zomboid Project has become a ridiculously deep zombie apocalypse survival simulation where death is inevitable, that’s about how long you can keep it from crashing through your door. It is best described as The sims as a classic cRPG, with an apocalyptic seasoning.

Each race sees you begin as a random, customizable citizen of Kentucky, immersed in the midst of a burgeoning zombie epidemic, with all kinds of opening scenarios possible from your property. The player is able to choose “classes” which range from lumberjacks, medics, hamburger swimmers to the usual unemployed. Each of these classes brings their own special skills to survive (no prizes for guessing what a lumberjack is practical with). To keep them alive you not only need to search for food and supplies, seek safe shelter, and avoid / tackle the living dead, but you also need to deal with boredom, sanity and hygiene. your character along the way.

While there is a lot of looting and shooting that you would expect from a post-apocalyptic survival game, it is deep and extremely dangerous. If a zombie sees you, it will chase. They are relatively slow, but Zomboid Project puts its imprint on the panicked paranoia of trying to lose interest even from one undead without stepping into another. You can only see what you’re supposed to be doing, so behind curtains, doors, and closed corners there’s almost always a chance of getting a nasty surprise.

You might find a nice house to sleep in for a day or two, filled with fresh water, food, medicine, and reading materials. It’s a deliciously dull sort of bliss to have nothing else to do but sit and watch any shit on TV, flip through magazines while drinking beer, and munch on veggies. canned. Still, a casual glance out a window after opening the curtains at the wrong time can end your somewhat comfortable existence when a small group of zombies come knocking and luring in even more with the noise. Now you have two choices; curl up in a dark room with the door closed, hoping they lose interest and wander around in hopes of keeping your precious stronghold a little longer, or gather all you can and sneak out the other way , in search of relative security once again.

The beauty of Zomboid Project is that despite a languid pace, there is a disturbing and creeping awareness that time is moving on in the game world and that those cool supplies and calm, safe areas are dwindling. It takes more and more to survive each day, and one bite to doom you. It is rare that you see a heroic death in Zomboid Project. In fact, you are much more likely to die alone, in an addiction, surrounded by undead, because you are bleeding profusely because you decided to jump through a broken window to escape a risky situation.

For me, this is exactly what attracts me. There is an exquisite and embarrassing comedy about death in Zomboid Project. He likes to make you feel that every choice you make is stupid and that he will make you eat. There is something deliciously absurd about the idea that, unlike say, a Back 4 Blood Where Dying light, where you can fight your way triumphantly through a horde by outwitting them with speed, power, and a relaxed ability to dodge multiple bites, in Zomboid Project, you may find yourself completely screwed up because you ran to a fence to jump it up and fell flat on your back as three greedy pods come closer and closer to your lying, tasty body.

It’s just a single player game, the multiplayer aspect more encapsulates the essence of a zombie apocalypse, where the sincere (stupid) choices of other people can get you killed and vice versa. Even here there are times of loneliness, but they offer the chance to meet someone who might not be around to murder you, and whatever that entails. Uplifting teams, frustrating betrayals, and devastating deaths thrown into the mix make the fear of being alone again an intense maelstrom of emotions.

The punitive world of Zomboid Project turns even the smallest positive actions into great triumphs and the most trivial decisions into horrific disasters and gives the mundane a compelling anecdotal quality. It is a world of dire consequences, where your continued survival is an act of stubborn defiance. This is, to me, what a zombie apocalypse should be.

Project Zomboid is now available on Steam in Early Access.