Two weeks ago, we embarked on an escapade with Project Zomboid, a survival horror sandbox game I’ve had something resembling an obsession with lately. When we last saw our Hero, Ben Jakson (or Jak Benson), he had had a rather nasty run-in with a hoard of brain-munching meat bags which left him running for his life. Inadvertently saved by an unfriendly NPC, we find himself injured, panicked, hungry, and on the verge of breaking into a suburban home for shelter.
|“Or what I like to call “Thursday Night”|
1. The back door to the nearest house is locked, so I let myself in through a window. There might be zombies about which need a frying pan to the noggin, and I don’t know if any of the hoard has followed me, so I might still be in danger. Naturally, I do the only logical thing and cook myself some chicken. Moments after I turn the oven on, I hear a shotgun blast from somewhere nearby. I’m going to try to steer well clear of wherever it came from.
2. Fed, and stronger, I head upstairs and craft some bandages from bedsheets to treat Ben’s wounds. I’m till very nervous about the shotgun blast I just heard, especially since there’s blood on these walls. I can’t see any bodies around, and the house is empty, so I take a gamble and decide to get Ben some rest. Hopefully I’m not visited by a looter in the middle of the night.
3. Morning brings news both good and bad, (but mostly bad). Ben Jakson is starting to feel queazy. That scratch to the face must have done more harm than I thought, because this is the first sign of infection. So, I’m in pain, anxious and probably infected with a zombie virus which gives me (at most) a few days to live. What’s the good news? I found a pool cue, and a white vest. I’m like Paul Newman in The Hustler, but with more zombies.
4. Figuring there’s no real point sitting around a house with no food, zombifying like an unemployed student gamer (hah, irony), I decide the do some house-hopping to see what I can salvage. If there are any zombies out here, they’re invisible to me, much like the glitchy pool cue I’m wielding (the game is still in alpha, and buggy as hell, as I’ve mentioned many times before).
5. I find myself in the Old Town, so named by me because it was the entire map in the first version of the game, and the spawn area for the original Story Mode. I know this area well, at least, so finding food and medicine won’t be a concern. However, my condition is worsening. Ben Jakson has escalated from “Queazy” to “Nauseous” on the zombie-sickness-o-meter. I have a day or so left before the infection takes over. I can only imagine a solitary tear runs down Ben’s cheek as he realizes what must be done before the end; getting drunk and smacking some heads with a pool cue.
6. While I’m in the supermarket looting some crisps and booze, a lone zombie wanders in, a straggler from a hoard perhaps, presumably looking for bargain discount deals on Ben’s brains.
7. “Every little helps, bitch!” quips Ben Jakson, wiping grey matter off his pool cue.
8. Loaded up on whiskey, and beginning to feel weary, I find a hoard of zombies outside, and Ben staggers into what will be his final battle.
9. For a fight to the death, things go very well at first. Within a few seconds, I’ve knocked a few zombies dead (dead again? I don’t know the terminology). However, more hear the hubbub and quickly take their place. Combatting this many zombies at a time will only end one way in Project Zomboid. Soon exhaustion kicks in, and each swing grows increasingly feeble. Zombies begin to get closer and closer to you, and are no longer knocked to the ground by your blows. After a time, you become so exhausted that you can no longer run away.
10. Eventually, 2 days and 6 hours after our adventure began, it comes to an end. After a brief melee, Ben Jakson succumbs to bleeding and collapses into an already impressive pile of corpses. Moments later, he rises again in his final, zombified form. 2 days and 6 hours doesn’t sound like much, and it isn’t, but that’s what I love about this game. There is no space marine-esque grandeur to it. You’re don’t have heroic strength, nor a superhuman immunity to hunger, pain or illness, you’re just an ordinary bloke trying to survive horrible circumstances for as long as you can, and every zombie you kill was once just like you. But fear not, reader, and find comfort in this final sentiment. Ben Jakson, as tragic as his demise was, left this world very much the same way he entered (spawned into) it; inexplicably shirtless.