Despite its action-RPG trappings, Zombasite has more in common with board games like Diplomacy and Dead of Winter than it does with Diablo III. Between keeping your clan alive, managing relationships with your neighbors, and foiling your nemesis’ plans, you’ll have more to do than just “point-and-click.”
Your main objective in Zombasite is to survive the fantastical zombie apocalypse by one of four methods. You could opt to crush any and all rival clans (Military), make peace with them (Diplomatic), gather up a large amount of food (Logistics), or solve everyone’s problems (Adventurer). If you achieve any one of these conditions, you “win” and can move on to a new area, keeping all of your followers and wealth. Which you choose is up to you, just keep in mind that the other in-game clans have their own motives and, just like Ghandi in Civilization, may decide to “go nuclear” at any moment.
Achieving any of these conditions usually involves the typical action-RPG mechanics of killing enemies for experience, loot, and gold, but much of that feels like the minutiae of larger machinations. Sure, another clan is having trouble with a particular enemy in their territory and all you have to do is clickclickclick on it until it’s dead, but the reason you’re doing that is to possibly strengthen your relations with that clan so you can open up trades with them. You’re management and factory worker rolled into one.
While there are multiple routes to pursue in order to attain victory, there’s only one way to lose: letting all the members of your clan die. There are any number of ways in which that can happen, e.g., getting killed in an enemy raid, starvation, or one follower offing another due to some dispute between them. So, in addition to your duties of adventuring in order to get stronger and face tougher enemies while at the same time engaging in diplomatic relations with your neighbors, you’re also trying to ensure your clan doesn’t get wiped out. There’s a lot happening all at once and your first few games will likely be spent trying to understand what’s going on and why you should be doing certain things rather than trying to win.
Of course, if all of that management doesn’t sound like your thing, maybe you’ve got a friend who’d like to tend to the books while you’re out hacking and slashing. Up to four players can join up on the same server (one player hosts) and bring in their own characters to the host’s world. The players all work together to achieve one of the win conditions, but they don’t have to stay together to do so. One player can stay close to the base to fight off any invasions while the others push into new territories. Teleport gates can be found in each area and help players move around a map that can stretch out for some distance (and that’s not even including the dungeons). Any gear and experience that players earn while cooperating with friends will carry over with them back into their own game when the good times come to an end.
Though still in Early Access, the framework for Zombasite feels pretty solid. Fans of previous Soldak Entertainment titles will feel right at home with the different character classes, which all appear to have been lifted from Din’s Curse, and the clan management/diplomacy that was in Drox Operative. For newcomers, this is a good place to check out Soldak’s unique take on the action-RPG genre. Be prepared, though, to spend a few hours and a couple of restarts just getting familiar with the lay of the land, or just bring in some friends and have fun.