Game Review: Project Zomboid by The Indie Stone

 
 

🌟One of my faves!🌟

Project Zomboid is an in-depth, detailed, highly customizable zombie apocalypse survival life sim. Loot buildings, fortify your chosen base, kill or avoid zombies, and use your skills in cooking, carpentry, mechanical, electrical, fishing, foraging, first aid, and more to survive long-term.


Project Zomboid Promo Image showing artwork of a man with a hardened expression and blood-splattered clothes, holding a pipe, with a bunch of zombies reaching for him.

Official Description:

Project Zomboid is an open-ended zombie-infested sandbox. It asks one simple question – how will you die?

In the towns of Muldraugh and West Point, survivors must loot houses, build defences and do their utmost to delay their inevitable death day by day. No help is coming – their continued survival relies on their own cunning, luck and ability to evade a relentless horde.

More Info:

You can get more info and buy the game on Steam or the official website!

Long Review:

I am not good at fighting or sneaking or anything fast-paced. It stresses me out. But the depth and detail and realism looked so cool that I couldn’t resist giving this a try anyway. And it is cool! And the amount of customization—including the ability to weaken or completely remove the zombies—makes it a fun game no matter your skill level.

I feel like I’ve barely started playing this game, and I already love it so much and have 7000 things I want to say about it. I’ll probably shorten my review for Steam, but here on my blog, where people might be hearing about PZ for the first time, I’ll just let myself gush.

Screenshot from Project Zomboid showing my character standing outside some houses holding a baseball bat with 15 dead zombies around him.

In-Depth Gameplay

I really cannot overstate how cool all the detail in the gameplay is. The ways you can use items, the eventual failing of the power and water, recipes, the effect everything you do has on your health and mood. There’s cooking, farming, foraging, fishing, carpentry, first aid, mechanics, and electrical skills, in addition to the various fighting and sneaking ones. And it’s not just simple “make meal” types of interactions, you have to have the right supplies and skills and steps.

I can’t even scratch the surface in a review, but here are some examples: If you’re bleeding, you need bandages, but if you have no bandages, you can rip up a shirt and use that. If your clothes get bloody or dirty, you can wash them in a washing machine or a sink or a lake. You can get drunk on a bottle of wine (improving your mood but also hampering your ability to fight) and then fill the empty bottle up with water for later. You can improve your cooking skill by watching a cooking show on TV. You don’t even get to know what time it is until you find a watch or alarm clock. Different clothes have higher or lower amounts of scratch/bite protection for whichever specific parts of your body they cover and different amounts of insulation that can keep you warm if it’s cold or overheat you if it’s hot. If you nap in a chair, you might wake with neck pain. There are different types of medications you can find that have different effects (e.g. painkillers, or sleeping pills if your character has no painkillers and is in too much pain to sleep). If you exercise, you can improve speed and strength, but you’ll be sore and have your ability to run and fight decrease for a while. Water has to be boiled if it’s tainted, or you could die, but you’ll need to use a fire if there’s no power, and you’ll need something to burn and a way to start the fire. If you catch a cold, your coughs and sneezes will make zombies notice you, but you can use tissues or toilet paper to muffle the sounds. And the game doesn’t really stop you from doing things—if you want to put a corpse in the dryer, you can. (It won’t accomplish anything, but you can still do it.) I could go on and on, but you probably get the point.

And the cooking! I turned off zombies and lost four hours of my life to this game just finding and choosing ingredients for my little guy to make meals with. You have to find the proper cooking equipment (baking pan, sauce pan, bowl, large pot, etc.), then you can choose exactly what to add to your stew or sandwich or pasta or whatever you’re making. You have to have a knife to cut certain things before using them, water in the pot, a can opener if you want to open cans, certain raw foods must be cooked separately first, etc. You can even change the oven temperature and the microwave settings! And the nutrients (e.g. protein, fat, carbs) actually matter. Different foods and variety in meals can affect the happiness of your character too. The cooking in this game is more detailed than in literally any life sim type of game I’ve ever played.

It’s also interesting to note how you can play with a character for months in-game, and all it takes is one little mistake, one moment where you get complacent or trip or don’t see a nearby zombie or drink tainted water for it to all be over. Which is how it would be a real zombie apocalypse.

There’s also a multiplayer option. I don’t do multiplayer anything, but it’s actually tempting in this game. It seems like it could be really cool. With all the crafting and systems in the game, you could actually make a functioning society.

Screenshot from Project Zomboid of my character sitting on the floor of a store drinking orange soda. Her calf is bandaged. There are shelves of fruit, bread, and snacks all around her.

Open World & Freedom

Because of how in-depth the game is, and because of the open world and huge map, there’s so much freedom in how you can play. There are so many different strategies you can have for survival. Build a cabin in the woods and forage, trap, and fish to survive. Fortify a house or building in the city and start farming and collecting rain water. Turn off re-spawning and stay on the move and scavenge until you’ve killed every zombie.

There are so many different ways you can choose to do small things too. Just to get into a building with a locked door, depending on what tools you have, how much time you have, and how quiet you’re trying to be, you can a) break down the door, b) disassemble the door and improve your carpentry skills, c) check if any other doors or windows are unlocked, d) pry open a window, e) smash a window.

There’s no end goal. Survive. As long as you can. That’s the goal. If you get bored, start a new game and make it harder, or use one of the starting scenarios, or try a weird challenge, or do a roleplay game, or make your own goals. I love this kind of freedom.

Details & Stories

Another really cool thing is the detail in the world. There are fancy houses and small houses and trailer parks and restaurants and grocery stores and libraries and schools and police departments and gas stations and ranger’s stations and auto shops and doctor’s offices and barns and churches and movie theaters and malls. It feels like a real city.

There are also little stories everywhere, like an abandoned car with blood all over the hood, or houses where someone was clearly in the middle of preparing a sandwich. I killed two underwear-clad zombies in a bedroom who were clearly having sex when they got zombified. I’ve read about some of the other things people have found, some funny, some sad. Looking through homes and finding these little stories or clues about the people who lived there humanizes them and reminds you that your character isn’t the only one who was affected. And the world is huge. You could spend so much time just exploring.

Screenshot from Project Zomboid of my character standing in a bedroom holding a baseball bat with two dead zombies on the floor wearing only underwear, and a bunch of clothes are scattered on the floor under them.

Settings & Customization

What’s also great is that there are TONS of difficulty options and settings you can adjust to make the game just right for you.

If you’re like me and suck at combat and sneaking and anything fast-paced and are thinking, “Wow, this game looks really cool, but I don’t wanna kill zombies,” I have good news: You can turn off the zombies and make this into a really cool post-apoc survival life sim and live your best hermit life! Or you can drastically weaken the zombies so that it’s easier, and you might find (like I have) that it’s actually fun, once you get more used to it. (You can even use a cheat menu mod to turn on God or Ghost mode and practice killing zombies without dying first.) Or you can leave the zombie settings as they are. Or you can make the zombies even stronger and smarter and more populous.

There are tons of non-zombies settings that can change the difficulty of the game too. The amount of loot, how often houses and cars are locked and/or alarmed, how soon the water and power shut off, and more.

There are also tons of mods, which can make things easier or harder or more realistic, including things that affect the environment and non-combat stuff. (And the dev team seems really supportive of modders, which is nice!)

The only thing you can’t adjust in the settings is permadeath. You can, however, back up your save files every so often. In fact, I’d recommend doing that anyway, in case you die for a ridiculous, glitchy sorta reason.

Overall Thoughts

Depending on how you play, this can be a zombie killing game or more of a survival game where there just happens to be zombies (or not). And the fun thing is figuring out and trying different ways of surviving and really exploring what this game has to offer.

The game isn’t even finished yet (it’s in early access at the time of this review), there are still more things to come that I’m super excited for (NPCs, farm animals, dogs), so I might update my review as I find more to love. But it’s already so much fun as it is now, and I just couldn’t wait to tell people about it!

*Source/Cost: I purchased this for $19.99 on Steam.*

Screenshot from Project Zomboid of my character shambling around as a zombie with text that says he survived 3 days, 20 hours and killed 17 zombies.

Short Review:

– In-depth gameplay for short and long-term survival
– So much detail in the gameplay and the world
– Little stories to find everywhere
– Open world with huge map
– So much freedom to decide your goals or survival strategy
– Tons of difficulty customization, including no zombies
– Overall, a fantastic game that’s fun no matter how you choose to play!

Accessibility:

(May not include everything)
– Not accessible for blind / visually impaired players and screen reader users.
– Can be played with keyboard and mouse/trackpad or controller.
– Can change key bindings.
– Lots of options/settings/customization available, including game difficulty, sound, visual, and more.

Miscellanous:

I also love watching videos of other people play this game! There really is no one way to play, which makes every video so different.

 
 
 
 

Talk to me!

Have you played Project Zomboid?
Have you ever played a game this in-depth?

 
 
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Your Thoughts

 

8 thoughts on “Game Review: Project Zomboid by The Indie Stone

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  1. Greg

    This sounds so fun. I like that you can just turn off the zombies too and do… whatever. I love open ended games and am really gravitating towards the ones that just let you do whatever you want or explore the setting. I think it would be fun and weirdly relaxing to just play it as a survival sim.

    That forest video is fun. I love the idea of being so off the grid even the admins can barely find you. And “Iron Gut” lol

    1. Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)

      It’s sooooo much fun! I seriously love how customizable you can make it. And I love open ended games too. This is basically just The Sims with zombies lol (but no other sims to make friends with, though they will be adding NPCs). It is relaxing though without the zombies.

  2. Becky @ A Fool’s Ingenuity

    Since I’m avoiding twitter and blogging right now I didn’t see anything you’d posted about this game but your review has me half tempted to buy because there is so much detail! When I first say the game I figured there’d be some customisation with a limited number of things you need to do to survive but I was very wrong. I don’t always love games which are too realisitic in the sense of them making it true to life in how you survive. I mean in Sims if real life rules were employed my sims would all be dead within a day as I’m too lazy to keep a close eye on them and feed them as I should. It’s kind of cool how much you have to try and survive with this one, even before you add in zombies. I think I’d enjoy it having the zombies turned off to get used to things first before adding in easy zombies to kill.

    1. Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)

      Do it do it buy the game 😆 It’s all that detail that got me, too. It’s just so cool. I don’t have that problem with my sims, I’m a micromanager lol. I definitely needed all the time I spent just sort of exploring with the zombies off in order to understand how everything works before adding in the pathetic zombies, so I really love that they give so many customization options. I wouldn’t have been able to play otherwise.

  3. Karen

    I’ve loved reading your tweets for this one lol

    I’m kind of the opposite. I don’t really play games but when I do, I just want to shoot or whatever. Really slow games or ones like Sims where I have to build it all stress me out. This is like a mix of the two.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

    1. Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)

      My brain can’t compute that, haha, that you find the slow stuff stressful but not the shooting and fighting. We are definitely opposites there! But yeah this game is the perfect combo because you can turn off zombies and have just slow chill life sim, or you can turn zombie difficulty way up and just do fighting, or you can play at any point in between.