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How to Survive

By Toast13-11-2013
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
How to Survive

The Defence

EKO Studios
505 Games
Action, Adventure, Indie
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GT 240
AMD Radeon HD 5750
4 GB
4 GB

The Case

Let’s be honest, we’ve seen countless zombie games before. We’ve been promised true survival games which didn’t live up to expectations and were merely shoot ‘em ups without any real survival aspects. So when How to Survive popped up on our radar - it stood out. You start out alone, hopeless and with literally nothing but the clothes on your back - all the classical signs that you are pretty much screwed if you don’t start scavenging and trying to find or build shelter. So, is this game successful in delivering an authentic survival experience?

The Trial

You mysteriously end up shipwrecked on some strange island filled with zombies, with no memory of what happened and no idea how to survive. Luckily for you, there is someone to help - Mr Kovac and his survival guide (although this’ll only help so much). It will be up to you to perfect your skills and make do with anything you find to fend off the hordes of zombies and wild animals you come across. Among the zombies and creatures, you’ll be meeting some other strange survivors, with diverse personalities and needs that are also in the exact same situation as you. But fear not, dear survivor, they are willing to help you...as long as you’re willing to help them.

Order Today!!!

Order Today!!!

You’ll be battling the undead straight at the start, although you’ll have no choice but to use very basic melee weapons such as a wooden stick or a rusty machete, which aren’t useful for large packs. But hey, don’t worry, you can craft better weapons once you find the materials and knowledge to craft them. But that won’t be the only thing you’ll need to survive and, ultimately, escape.

Now, surely you should know how to survive in day-to-day life, right? Well in this alternative scenario, you’ll be combatting zombies while juggling your needs within the campaign. You need to watch your health, so you don’t die, as well as your hunger, thirst and fatigue. How to deal with all of these necessities will be taught to you by Kovac (when you actually meet the man himself) or through his amazing book.

In order to survive, a lot of items will need to be crafted. Some essential items will include self-assembled ammunition based weapons and armour. Items are scattered around different areas and finding some of them can be quite difficult when you are being chased by zombies or monsters, while trying to cut or burn down vegetation to move into another remote part of the island. While exploring at night it is crucial to be careful and have a light source, otherwise you could be a very tasty treat for some mutated...things.

Take this, fat boy!

Take this, fat boy!

You’ll be fighting traditional zombies most of the time, although some may have armour or helmets on which deflect your munitions, or some may be taller or faster than the others. Other types include: exploding fat ones (boomers anyone?), sand crab zombies (which look like headcrabs) and of course wild animals, which you can hunt for fresh meat as well as dissecting them for other useful crafting items.

But how does the crafting system actually work? Well, you can craft a number of things, from remedies to healing and protection, to crafting the means to kill off zombies more efficiently and blast your way through barricades. All you need is at least 2 items to start crafting. For example, to craft a bow all you need is a reel of wire and a flexible branch. You simply select them in your inventory to combine and voila! If you want some arrows, a wooden stick and a machete should suffice in making some basic ones or, if you want something a bit better, it’s time to go hunting ostriches for feathers.

Of course, there are many varieties of items to craft, and guides on what and how to do it will be scattered all around the island. But what you want to craft is up to you. You may need to keep attaching items onto other items to enhance an object, such as different firearms, but it is worth it once completed. The most notable thing about the crafting system is that you also have the option to disassemble items if you accidently crafted the wrong one or what have you.

I think this isn't my shack...

I think this isn't my shack...

Skills play an important part here too as they’ll improve some basic abilities and help with tougher fights later, including boss fights and overall survival. You’ll learn how to start fires at first, which can be helpful to fend off the beasts of the night and to cook fresh meat. Other skills will range from being able to aim quicker with ranged weapons so you can score headshots easier in critical situations, to slowing down the effects of hunger or sleep. Others skills will generally help you in combat with the ability to craft explosive or incendiary arrows, which can really help against the later zombie attacks and bosses.

When you get into some tougher fights, especially when you have to clear out some hiding shacks where you need to sleep, you can easily get over-encumbered by zombies rather quickly, and thus need some form of firearm. Moments like these where you get chased by 50 zombies of different variant types are always heart pounding and add a real sense of accomplishment. It feels really rewarding to clear all the place out and claim the shack as yours.

The main campaign can easily be completed in less than 10 hours if you decide to only do the main quests, but if you want to complete the side quests or explore and craft some special items you’ll be there significantly longer. Of course, there is always the other option of taking another one of the 3 characters through the campaign, or you could try your luck with the challenges, alone or with a friend. Some are rather tricky, having you make your way through an island to escape or it’ll make you follow certain rules and limit what you can use to escape.

Umm...am I going insane?

Umm...am I going insane?

Now, if there ever was a need for a distinctive soundtrack or some unique sound effects, this game would greatly benefit from it. There is a number of reused sounds that we’ve heard before that may cast our minds toward some movie or game we’ve recently seen. Plus, the soundtrack leaves little to be desired, nothing is special or memorable. Unfortunately, the same can be said about the visuals. They seem to be dated and would only be generally accepted years ago as passable. The overall appearance seems rather bland at first and suffers because of this.

But How to survive is great for playing with friends in the challenge mode. The choice of local or online co-op is a welcome sight, instead of online or local co-op only. Some of the challenges are hard, especially on Iron Man difficulty, so you better have a good strategy in order to complete them. There is currently an absence of online campaign co-op (there is local however), which was promised to be added in at a later date.

The Verdict

This game actually delivers on the promise of a good survival game, with an easy to use crafting system. The feeling you get creating and then using those items to kill enemies and accomplish tasks is satisfying. It has a respectable amount of different zombies to fight, and plenty of them, especially on later islands.

If you are desperately looking for another zombie game with survival elements and a deep crafting system, then I highly recommend you give this baby a try. The execution is surprisingly outstanding with a good crafting system and a good atmosphere of being helpless and very vulnerable at times. It is rather hard to captivate all this within one game. The developers should be proud at what they’ve accomplished here, a rather interesting take on an action survival game.

Case Review

  • Survival MEANS Survival: Creating items yourself while maintaining your needs is hard to balance at times and dictates your choices on how to overcome challenges and survive at the worst of times.
  • Crafting System: You can craft many items, attach new items that make them stronger or better in different ways and you have the choice to dismantle them for any number of reasons.
  • Combat: The combat system is good, but there isn’t much depth to it.
  • Sound: The sound is ok, but will hear some rather generic and familiar sounds that we’ve heard before.
  • A Little Short: It ends rather quickly, which is a shame, although nothing stops you from playing as the other characters, challenges, or the Iron Man difficulty.
  • Graphics: The graphics aren’t poor, but they aren’t impressive either.


Score: 3.5/5
If you are looking for a fun survival experience, you certainly won’t go wrong with this one.


Here we go again, another zombie title. The market seems overrun with them right now. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, but many titles that have looked promising have been a great disappointment. Enter, How to Survive the latest game in the genre. This is not like other titles; it is a humorous affair that can be compared to action comedy films like Shaun of the Dead.

Starting wrecked on an island, you meet a survivor and he gives you the first objective to complete. As you progress through the game, you are given various objectives and they are normally quite simple. It is not the tasks, which give you the challenge though - it is the hordes of the undead. Throughout the game, you must craft objects which will help you on your journey. This is achieved by skills being unlocked as you advance on the island.

These books are like the For Dummies series, but with animations showing you what to do. When it comes to fighting, the system is simple yet effective. Starting with just a stick, you pick up weapons as you progress and each weapon will give you a new advantage, sometimes to advance to a certain point on the island. While How to Survive might not look as polished as other titles in the genre, this game is quite fun to play and takes a light-hearted approach to zombies and surviving. A must play for all fans of the genre.

Score: 4/5


How To Survive has one of the most misleading names I can think of. Sure, it has a lot of the things we’ve come to expect from survival games - collecting scraps to craft weapons and tools, eating, drinking and sleeping to stay alive, and oh yes, the threat of being eaten alive by zombies - but this is no realistic post-apocalyptic zombie survival game. It’s an arcade shooter, with a crafting system and a few very light RPG-elements thrown on top for good measure. You’ll never really feel like you’re about to starve to death or run out of ammo and, playing on Normal difficulty, you’ll even have a hard time dying - even with a dozen zombies chasing you.

Now I might sound a little negative here, but although How To Survive won’t win any awards for ambitiously original gameplay, ground-breaking storytelling or amazing visuals, I simply find it a really enjoyable little game. The shooting mechanics, the crafting system, the tiny skill-tree, the amount of variety in the enemies you face and so on are elements that are barely passable on their own, but it is when they are combined that the game works. It’s always fun to pick up something new and see what you can combine it with to make something useful. Zombies are everywhere and you’ll be fighting them all the time, but they are never so hard to kill that the combat becomes a chore. Things get slightly more challenging at night when some creepy crawly zombies start chasing you, but it’s never frustratingly hard.

However the game has some issues keeping it from getting a perfect score. First of all, the cooperative multiplayer is restricted to eight different challenges. Though it’s only a minor flaw that you can’t play the main campaign with a friend, what is really unacceptable is the fact that you both must stay together on-screen, even when playing online on two different computers! The inventory always feels too small which occasionally makes crafting tedious, the missions start to feel like the ‘fetch’-kind very quickly, and firearms are too powerful with ammo being too plentiful, rendering bows and boomerangs useless after only a few hours of play. On Normal difficulty, the game feels way too easy overall. Still, with a campaign that can take you up to 8 or more hours to complete and gameplay that is accessible and enjoyable enough to keep you entertained throughout, I have no problem recommending How To Survive to those who know what they’re getting into. This is a light action game, NOT a survival simulator.

Score: 3.5/5
Comments (4)
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Posts: 351

Yeah this is not looking as good as I would want it to be.

Posts: 3290

A lot of people fail at gameplay these days

Posts: 596

Seems like a it had a lot of potential but wasn't quite hit on. Especially with a game like this gameplay needs to be there to backup the deep survival mechanics, but it seems like they failed in that aspect :(

Posts: 1548

The initial screenshots looked much better. The graphics whore in me is sad :(