How to Survive 2 sounds like the title of a self help book found in Waterstones. It is not about the trials of raising a small toddler incapable of sleeping through the night, putting their fingers in plug sockets of soiling themselves. Nor is it anything to do with Bear Grilles. What it is in fact a game about hitting zombies and doing DIY. Neither of which I am a massive fan of.
Story and narrative are not good friends in this game. In fact they divorced and took the kids with them, sold the dog and set fire to the house, In other words, not very much of either. You basically kill stuff and find stuff and use the xp to level up your character or your abilities to build more stuff for your camp. This includes a big box to keep all your stuff in, an armoury so you can make weapons and a kitchen so you can make food. Your guy is pretty handy, unlike me in real life. I can neither cook, or make shotguns.
There two areas; Where you do your missions and where you build your base. The latter is very big whilst the former are smaller maps. in essence, you search around for stuff like a homeless person rummaging through the bins of the local Tesco Metro trying to find an out-of-date Prawn Biryani? Picking herbs and plants like a rabid Alan Titchmarsh and build stuff like the team for DIY SOS.
Zombies in general are not known for their aptitude on general knowledge quizzes such as Mastermind. They basically wonder around aimlessly, eating. A bit like me out shopping with the Mrs in Ikea, frequently wanting to end the pain of looking at tea lights, rugs and towels to justify the 45 minutes to get down there. But these zombies are different. These are psychic zombies. Now matter how quiet you are sneaking up they magically turn around. Like my kids. Can’t bloody hear me when I shout for them. Open a packet of biscuits and they can hear me a mile away.
Some of the undead appear to be mostly topless men, no doubt closet nudists freeing themselves to the society that constrained them with outdated opinions on clothing. Some can run and some are fat, pink and explode. This tapped into my constant unease of being In the vicinity of the obese in real life. I often stand in Greggs alert that one more pasty could result in elasticated purple leggings being spread over a wide radius. Not pleasant. There are zombie animals for variety.
Here’s the thing. this seems like a straight port from PC with controller support. You even have to move a mouse pointer around with left stick to select items with little attempt by the developers to the controls.
The combat system is chunkier than an old ford escort. It’s hardly to the level of Dead Rising, lacking any fluidity and I feeling like I was playing something from 10 years ago. I pushed the button to attack I then would dramatically flail like a pre-pubescent teen who had just had their Wi-Fi taken away. My tactics involved running up to a group of of the undead, bashing them with my Melee weapon that I had found recently and running away again. It does, however, get a bit more fun once you are in possession ranged weapons. In this case a bow and arrow. Shoot them from a distance and retrieve your arrows. Despite the silent approach, their nearby undead mates have acute hearing so soon come running.
After doing some more missions I could also build guns and bullets because people have just left tons of gunpowder and lead piping just lying around. Fire a gun however brings all the boys to the yard, so I kept to playing Robin Hood.
On top of battling with the controls you have to periodically feed and water yourself. I bit like real life when you get past 40. There is also a map , always helpful. But it overlays over the screen you are playing meaning you can’t see what’s going on. So you can’t really move and look at it. A pain. HOWVER, I discovered by a click of the left stick I could change the size and move it around the screen. I found this out by random button presses, much like I discovered many aspects of this game. But you also use the same button to change your view. Whish led to problems in times of panic.
And these are just a few of the many, many problems with this game, the menu system and the button mapping is not intuitive. It’s down right confusing. Even when pressing the menu button it doesn’t actually pause the game. I went to get a cup of tea, and came back to my character been set upon by a groups of soulless weirdos akin to teenage fans at a Justin Bieber concert. Another point I was completely stuck and it wouldn’t let me progress onto the next mission. It said I had to level up my character but didn’t actually explain why. Turns out I had to press the B button. Again, I deduced this by pressing ALL the buttons to see what happened. However, by this point I has spent all my xp on mistakenly levelling up the camp which allowed me to build stuff I didn’t have the bits for. Cue, 10 minutes of killing zombies to get the stats up then making the mistake of levelling up my character too much.
Sound too is rubbish with repetitive moans and groans, all the same volume so I had no idea how far they were away from me. Sometimes they sounded Swedish which was at least different. I’ve heard more convincing effects from a dubbed 70′s German porn film.
I was frequently frustrated playing this game. Very much like my wife in the run up to World book day. The proceeding seven days involved her shouting frequently at the kids, stressing trying to source a red stripy top from Asda, shouting at the kids some more with 48 hours to when they changed their minds. Finally cobbling together an outfit made from pyjamas and Halloween costumes the night before. That’s how frustrated I was playing this game.
There are some nice ideas but in the famous words of 90′s RNB artist R Kelly – I like nothing more than a little bump and grind. This game is all grind and no bumping. Find stuff, kill stuff to level up your character or elements of you camp. There is a lot of killing which in itself is not fun as the combat system is very basic. It feels unfinished and required a lot more polish. I did not enjoy the experience, I wanted to, but its just too repetitive.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 5/10 Format: Steam / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of How to Survive 2 for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days .