By Jason Van Horn
I'm a zombie fanatic. I read the comics and novels. I watch the TV shows and
movies. Even if the people only have some of the traits of a zombie such as
those in 28 Days Later or Quarantine I'm all onboard. Basically, give me a
human out of their mind and who wants to eat and kill another person, and you've
got one satisfied individual right here. I'm not generally sold on the idea of
browser-based MMOs, as there's only so much fun you can have clicking links, but
I guess it just took something like World of the Living Dead a survival horror
zombie apocalypse themed game to sell me on the potential. If you've ever
wondered how you'd fare in such a situation, now is the time to find out.
In World of the Living Dead, you play as a NECRA operative a government
employee who was sealed away from the zombie outbreak in hopes that you could
help the people in need and somehow find a way to manage and control the plague.
The good news? You're alive. The bad news? The original plan failed, there
aren't any rescue attempts planned, and you were given only one mission
survive. With three survivors at your side, how will you do in this strange,
horrendous world? The idea behind World of the Living Dead is simple survive.
It's the only main goal of the game, but there are little ones you have to
strive for in order to complete the main one.
Players are randomly given three starting characters, which come with individual
ID cards detailing things like their name, sex, and occupation. While those
things might be important to you for role-playing purposes (you can assign a bio
to each character), there are four primary things to worry about and consider
regardless of what your survivor's name is. Those four things are: Fear,
Fatigue, Thirst, and Hunger.
Fear is what happens when you spend any time passing through a zone that has any
z-density (rating to show how infected and dangerous an area is). The more time
you spend in one of these areas the more frightened the survivor will become.
There are other factors too, such as being able to reduce the gaining of fear by
equipping your survivor with some proper protection, and the fact that the death
of another survivor on your team will lead to others becoming frightened. The
primary way to remove fear is to spend time in a safe house and recover. Fatigue
shows how tired your character is by performing tasks such as moving or
scavenging an area, plus survivors also accumulate more fatigue depending on how
much they're carrying with them. Thirst and hunger are pretty easy to understand
you need to drink enough (2 liters) and eat enough (men 2000 calories, women
1000 calories) or else you'll slowly start to wither away. For every day you
don't meet these requirements, that survivor will slowly find their meter
growing. If a survivor's needs are not met for several days, they'll die from
one of the two afflictions. Unlike fear and fatigue, thirst and hunger can't be
fixed by merely resting, but instead can only be healed by having the required
The primary way in which thirst and hunger are kept in check is by scavenging
items. Besides being able to find things like guns and melee weapons, various
food and water sources are what you'll find yourself craving more than a good
shotgun in your hand. Survivors can only scavenge for items on specially marked
areas on the map, which are represented by different icons. A bell is a school.
A cross is a church. A flame is a fire department. Etc. Each location has a loot
meter (shows how much remaining stuff can be found) and a difficulty meter (how
many attempts and how hard it is to find items). Certain locations are also more
likely to have specific loot items as well, as a church will only ever contain
food and water supplies, while a place like a convenient store will also have
the chance of dropping weapons. So, if you find yourself in dire need of
something specific, make sure you know where to go.
While each character is pretty similar in the beginning, they can be tweaked,
adjusted, and leveled thanks to the game's skill system. As you perform acts
such as scavenging, you'll earn Survival Points, which not only help you level
up (later things like broadcast message missions, the ability to create
factions, and being able to make your own safe house become available) but
improve the function of your characters as well. For instance, one of the early
weapons you can get is a bat. Having a bat is fine, but having someone know how
to really use one and do damage is better. By spending points on a survivor's
Skull Crusher skill, you'll make them more deadly when wielding a melee weapon.
There is a total of 23 skills spread across seven different categories:
Survival, Combat, Movement, Scavenging, Death, Fear, and Fatigue. You can
improve skills to do everything from make a character a better scavenger to
reducing how much water or food they need. Besides learning skills, players can
also give their survivors Infocards, which look like trading cards, but act as
immediate support skills.
One of the reasons I enjoy the game so much is because of the map system, as you
actually navigate through the real streets of Los Angeles, thanks to the
brilliant way in which the game streams Google Maps onto its page and then
overlays the map with routes you want to take, locations you can enter, and
displaying zombie hot zones as well. You can zoom in and out, scroll around, and
even place your own markers on the map so you can remember where a particular
sweet scavenging spot was. Much like a real-time strategy game, there is a fog
of war in effect, as you can't see what locations are near you (mostly only
NECRA sanctioned safe houses) or see the danger zone of an area without being in
the vicinity, so you'll actually need to explore and put yourself at risk in
order to ultimately survive.
Since the game is still in beta, there are still things being tweaked or
included, such as PVP, missions players can take, and rankings for a number of
stats, such as who has the most location space, who has been alive the longest,
and other such tidbits that people might be interested in checking out.
Beyond the few missing pages and bugs being worked out, World of the Living Dead
has so far been an amazing experience, as it's quite unlike any other game out
there. There can be a lot to keep up with, but the menu system is easy to use,
stats are easily tracked, the map system is beautiful, and even some things are
handled for you, so it's not like you're babysitting a character in The Sims (no
need to tell these survivors when to drink and eat).
If you're a fan of zombies you owe it to yourself to check this game out. I was
somewhat skeptical going into the experience as I'm not overly fond of
browser-based games, but World of the Living Dead has been a real gem so far and
a blast to play. It doesn't require a huge time commitment either, as you can
play it in spurts whenever you have some free time and an Internet connection.
My only advice stay away from the NECRA safe house along Historic U.S 66! I've
got a sweet place picked out, lots to scavenge, and I don't need the competition
taking away my survival goods. So help me if Alvaro dies of dehydration because
you had to come along and get stingy. If push comes to shove I'll gut you and
leave you to the zombies to feed on. Hey, that's just how the game of survival