I was fortunate enough to run into the Toge Productions crew at PAX Australia, and play their new title Infectonator: Survivors, and I was a fan almost instantly.
Survivors is an amalgamation of rogue-like, RTS, tower defense, and survival simulator all rolled into one neat, pixelized, and super hard package. The game is based around a formula that has worked in many great games before it like The Binding Of Isaac or FTL: Faster Than Light, where when you die, you are dead, and it’s game over.
When you first jump into the game you get to select a starting squad, with an interesting selection of characters, including PewDiePie and Freddy Wong, as well as a team based on the Left4Dead squad. Besides the obvious aesthetic and size differences, the main difference between the squads are the members’ stats and their weapon choices. Each character has a set of six stats that are upgradeable as you progress: Vital(ity), Speed, Search, Build, Aim and Melee. Most of them are self-explanatory, but build and search I will explain a little later.
After you select your squad, you are thrust into a zombie onslaught with a very minimal tutorial to guide you through. This may seem like a negative, but it is actually the opposite. The game is very intuitive and very easy to jump in and start playing. My first experience with the game was at PAX at a booth with little to no instruction or even any idea of what the game was, and I was still able to figure out what was going on, right before my swift and inevitable demise. But on reflection, while I watched my characters brains being eaten, I realized that it was entirely my fault, which is exactly what I love about this game. Yes, this game is super hard, and you have to be on your toes all the time, but it rewards good play while punishing bad play, something that happens a little too often for me to be proud of myself.
The graphics are very neat and clean, which being pixelized isn’t something that I say too often. I think that sometimes the pixelized style can be a bit overused and overdone, but the graphics for Survivors seems to hit the spot for me. The effects on the characters and zombies when they get injured, or the way the items littered around a stage stick out and shine, or even the way that lighting is used is all very excellent. The lighting is also a mechanic in itself.
When exploring different buildings, there are usually three levels; I say usually only because I haven’t gotten very far into the game despite my best efforts, but that is part and parcel of the roguelike genre. There are two stages that take part leading up to the building, both of which you will need to defend your self against wave after wave of zombies coming your way. There are walls that you can tactically place your team behind, as well as turret emplacements you can build, and items you can search and get resources from, which the aforementioned search skill determines the speed at which you can do this. If your character has a low search stat, searching an item can take upwards of five seconds, which in this game is enough to get you killed very swiftly.
The third level switches it up by making you explore the building you have traveled to, with the building covered in a fog of war, with light emanating from the characters. It is a very interesting use of light, and something that I haven’t seen since playing Die Hard on the NES. After killing off all the zombies here, the level ends. This is where you are first thrust into your encampment, where you can build and upgrade your weapons and gear, as well as farm and level up your characters. The build stat comes into play here, as well as the search stat, as both are required for building and upgrading—the higher the stats, the quicker you can research and farm. From here you can explore elsewhere, look for survivors, collect ammo, gear and car parts so you can repair your car, and get the hell out of Dodge. It is a very simple idea, but because of the high difficulty level, and the randomly generated environments, that game keeps pulling me back in for more, and I will beat it at some point!
On top of the story mode, there is also a survival mode, which is what I had the pleasure of playing at PAX, and man is it unforgiving. You start with the stock four player team, and you have to survive as long as possible, with the waves of zombies becoming more difficult, and just more abundant. I have yet to survive past wave five, but that could just be me not being good at games that aren’t Guitar Hero.
For a game that technically is still in alpha, this game is incredibly polished and extremely fun to play. According to the developers, the game is currently feature complete, and just needs a final push to get that nice coat of polish on top. As a result, they currently have a Kickstarter campaign active, and I highly recommend you check it out. If my description of the game doesn’t get you, their art should, because it really is just gorgeous.
As this is a preview and not a review, it does not get a score, but you can bet dollars to donuts that when it does get a full release, I will be on it like white on rice. To add onto the end of this preview, Kris from Toge Productions was nice enough to take ten minutes out of his day at PAX Australia to chat with me about the game, Greenlight, Kickstarter and zombies. Check it out below.
What do you guys think? Is this something you think you will play, or even kickstart like I have? Let me know below.