Rule 4. Make yourself useful, learn to be deadly.
Experience is given for killing enemies, crafting new things, and obviously for finishing quests. This is when you will see How To Survive’s light RPG mechanics come into play with each level granting one skill point to use on your character’s skill tree. It’s not a huge skill tree, but it allows for some choice on how to develop your character. Half of the skills are common across the three characters, such as requiring half the amount of food, water and sleep. The other half are unique to each character, giving them a slightly different playstyle with these skills granting proficiency with certain weapons or the ability to craft special items for only that character.
Rule 5. Don’t go out at night and walk with a big, fiery stick.
The typical rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse apply here. Don’t be loud, so that means use a bow instead of a gun because gunfire will attract more zombies. Don’t fight a horde without some sort of crowd control like an explosive or at least a stick to light them on fire. These rules apply to the common zombie, but you have to know these are not your only enemy. Special infected roam the island as well, and the rules don’t always apply to them. Bloaters, chargers, stickmen, even infected animals don’t play nice so use extra caution or excessive force when dealing with them. The worst is at night when the stalkers come out. Skittery little buggers that will hit you from behind. Luckily they are afraid of light so blind them with a flashlight or hang out beside a campfire until dawn.
Know your enemy, be smart in your combat actions. The controls act somewhat like a twin stick shooter with movement on the right stick and aiming on the left. Swinging power with melee weapons can be charged with a trigger, but missing these are critical errors. Chopping away with quick, weak attacks may work for regular zombies but is ineffective against armored ones, which require a headshot or a critical hit to the face.
Rule 6. Bring a friend.
How To Survive is great solo, but why wouldn’t you play online or locally with a friend? Two heads are better than one, especially when you need someone to watch your back when you’re reloading. Co-op partners use separate characters, each with their own saved progress. The game will use the host’s checkpoint so keep this in mind when hopping into different people’s games. There are a couple slight changes to gameplay, but mostly these are related to screen real estate. Opening a backpack (inventory) no longer pauses the game, so while one person is rummaging for healing it is a good idea for the other to protect them. Characters are tethered to each other by the boundaries of the screen, so you can’t wander to different parts of the island and must stay fairly close to one another. The game scales very well for co-op, as more zombies will join you when partnered up. It is also nice to be able to have someone with a different skillset in say, long range weapons, while I could stick to being a pyromaniac.
I had few complaints when playing How To Survive, most of which are minimal gripes that can be forgiven on a downloadable title. Inventory management becomes an issue, as you will quickly find your backpack is always full and there is nowhere to store your stuff. Towards the end of the game I found I had enough ammunition to fight a war, but couldn’t find healing items to save my life (literally). The backtracking through the same areas is a little tedious, and killing the same zombies over and over again becomes tiresome when you’re just trying to make it to a checkpoint. But therein lies the beauty of the game, because you may not make it to that next safe house.
How To Survive is an interesting take on zombie survival. It borrows from several different genres and manages to keep them all in harmony. The crafting is the most interesting spin on the game, and the co-op definitely heightens the experience. Combat and quests can become a little repetitive but How To Survive is a great little co-op romp. It definitely has some meat to it, and it is worth seeing how well you survive on this crazy island.
The Co-Optimus review of How to Survive is based on the XBLA version of the game. A code was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
The Co-Op Experience: Players can team up with other survivors in local or online multiplayer story and challenge modes to take on a growing array of the infected. As of now the local and online co-op differs slighty in terms of story.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.