Zafehouse Diaries PC Video Game Review

Zafehouse

Something has caused a Zombie Apocalypse. A group of people are stranded in a random town somewhere on Earth. They have secure their home of their choosing and put their petty differences aside in order to survive. In some scenarios they have to figure a way out of town. Other times they just have to not kill each other long enough to get a helicopter ride out.

I know a lot of people praise this game, but I hated it. I found a lot of this to be appallingly unrealistic or it felt like the game set itself to GOD mode. For example: there isn’t enough of any kind of supplies, EVER. So people either bleed out due to wounds or die of starvation. Now with the obesity rates around the world climbing this is a little difficult to believe that NO ONE has food other then ‘snacks’ half the time. The town, no matter where its rendered, seems to have a zombie population the size of New York City, even on ‘easy’ mode. Then the main mission, which is escape the town, is virtually impossible due to the incompetence of your crew.

The people you control are randomly generated, but are woefully utterly useless nearly 60% of the time. No one seems to be competent in anything remotely useful. So there’s a good chance that the game will give you 5 people who have 5 out of 5 star rating for watching zombies, but no one has higher then a single star for building a barricade to prevent the zombies from getting in. Other times I’ve encountered scenarios that no one knows how to make traps or they have really poor hand to hand combat skills. So unless I want to use a gun and attract even more zombies the ENTIRE TEAM would died within 5 days. Even then they’d all die once they ran out of ammo anyway.

Other times they all seem to hate each other for petty stupid reasons. This absolutely doesn’t make any sense at all. Sure humanity is petty and stupid and kill each other for just about any reason. However, everyone seems to know really intricate details about one another regardless of actually establishing a dialogue or back story. So apparently all AI in this game are physic knows everyone else likes, dislikes, skills, financial background and much more. Now I’ve seen some pretty miraculous things in my life: like how tragedy can bring enemies together. This displays the EXACT OPPOSTE to extreme and unrealistic perspective.

On top of that their actions are completely unrealistic. One time a huge hoard of zombies broke into the house. Sometimes it takes a few days for everyone to fight off the group and then rebuild. Instead two women who hated each other decided to break into a fight, during the zombie invasion. You’re reading that right: as the zombies were tearing everything limb from limb these two morons decided to fight each other. The saddest part was that they were the best fighters of the group. Oh and guess what? They all died! Another time someone snuck out during the middle of the night, FOR NO APPARENT REASON, and then came back bitten. Another time a guy went for a walk, who wasn’t known for his athleticism, and got killed. Now the game does a great job on who does what and it was noted he didn’t take any means of defense despite the fact that we had a few machetes and guns and that little fact that THE TOWN IS SURROUNDED BY ZOMBIES!

The graphics are kinda standard for a indie game. It feels more like you’re playing a board game or a zombie version of Dungeons and Dragons in some respect. That’s cool and all, but after a while it gets a little stale. Instead of seeing your characters full body you give a description of everything. It just gives a ugly mugshot like picture of the character. Then the profile is usually disappointing. Instead of stating anything useful it gives very generic information. Like “Steve loves poodles and grew up in a rich family. He ‘secretly’ hates the middle class and circus midgets.” Now any negative things stated in someones profile you are pretty much guaranteed to have. You’ll have a middle class circus midgets in the group somewhere. Anyway it’s next to worthless information. Sometimes it’ll have a footnote up in the upper right stating a large negative or positive quality, but it rarely is fruitful in any way.

Due to the game play mechanics it feels like a spreadsheet sometimes. But don’t get me wrong: this is actually the neatest part of the game. They tell everything through a journal or how you can command your group through quick commands on the right side of the board. However, it felt like a windows prompt that helped you do maintenance on your computer rather then playing a game. Since the characters have no sense to do things on their own you have to tell them to do everything. Also in order to help them progress on whatever you click a watch to speed up time. It’s neat that it’s the “Go” button, but you have to pay attention to everything or else the jobs you assign them or you can easily send the group to their death rather then just scout a area.

Out of all the zombie based games I’ve played this was the most frustrating, short lived, and possibly worst gaming experience I’ve had. It isn’t impossible to play, but it certainly isn’t possible the way the game randomly generates some groups. It does require strategy, but in order for any strategy to be effective the people participating in it have to be competent and not behave like 4 year olds. While I do applaud them for their game play design and simplistic graphics I’ll have to say nothing excuses them from this poor of a experience with such stupid AI.

2.0/10

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Gone Home PC Game Review

gonehome_titlescreen

Warning: Mild Spoilers

Gone Home is about a story of a sister two sisters. Samantha is stuck at home while her sister, Katie, is off traveling the world. So she writes down her every thought to share with her sister when she gets back. However when Kate arrives home the house is empty. There’s note on the front door stating that Sam left for some unknown reason.

This is a touching story. It purely represents how people can’t ever really go home again and expect life to be the exact same as when they left. It slowly, but bluntly, tells you how time changes everything and pushes people forward, or even away from each other. The game is every blatant about this with the many clues it leaves around. However it is the very definition of first world problems and is slightly riddled with stereotypical teen angst groaning you’d find in any American’s 1980s teen movies, but without any actual reason for conflict.

At first I was intrigued because it gives a somewhat approving approach to letting me be a completely voyeur into someone’s family. As I wondered around I would get to read into each persons life and their problems. This ability only poked at my curiosity to go further. Even the storm outside the house made the dark hallways seem somber rather then creepy. With a few steps here and there it opens up other parts of the house and even shows you secret entrances and old remnants of the previous owner of the house. This was only intriguing to only a limited extent.

Then there are other parts of the story that are just completely bland. There’s multiple clues lying around that would have suggested a troubled marriage or the parents having trouble dealing with their more rebellious daughter. However I found myself not caring, because I would only be able to find 1 or 2 notes on what one parent thought about the situation. The other parent (most of the time this was the father) would be completely left out by the fact that there wouldn’t be anything of his to read or analyze.

Other times the clues were handwritten notes that were completely illegible. Want to find out about the house and why it’s nicknamed? Well guess what? You probably won’t be able to read what happened since it looks like a small gerbil had a seizure while holding a pen on one of the only notes from the owner. This only left me frustrated and I ended up not caring at all about what happened. So this made it feel like half of the story was incomplete.

This was followed by the continued girl-to-woman story of Sam. While this was cute and heart warming to reading about a girl finding herself, it left me wondering if I should have just read a book instead. Whatever item you pick up plays a diary page of Sam’s and it belts out over the soft music in the background and the occasional thunder. None of it was too interesting, and as said before: it is riddled with clichés. The 90’s punk and girl grunge references even come off as cliché due to the same standard writing all over the posters of ‘fighting the man’ and what not. It’s like they rebel against a establishment without any clear reason to do so.

It lacks basic game play mechanics and good exploring rewards. Like with most games it might have clues as to what to do next that are clear and help continue the story. Yes, this was partly my fault, but after having such limited interaction with items I started looking less and less for items to fiddle with. It doesn’t interest me to pick up a 3d plate, or 3d tooth brush, and spin it around. The 3d books serve little to no purpose, except for one. Then the story items are so blatantly obvious they aren’t misable or they look so generic that I didn’t bother picking it up considering it was only the 900 th random piece of paper strung about in the house.

In the end Gone Home is another video game experiment that doesn’t feel complete. Many gamers, including myself, will be greatly disappointed with this. This is due to the lack of just about everything that makes video games playable. Yes it’s filled with every artistic metaphors and emotional impact that would be in most video games. Although for me the story was lost due to the stereotypical storyline of the subject matter, plot holes, and illegible clues. If it went on for a few more hours and explained everyone else’s view point I would have probably enjoyed it a lot more.

Either skip this or get it on the cheap (i.e. below $10). It’s only 2 hours worth of gameplay and has ZERO replay value.

5.0/10