Zombie survival games seem to be the latest thing everyone wants to create, I don’t know if it is something everyone wants to play, but seeing how they pop up around every corner, someone is buying them. That is why I am both surprised and interested to see what the small Swedish-based developer Rigid-Soft try at something as difficult as another zombie survival game.
First off, the game is still in development and is only at its alpha stage. I do hope it stays in alpha for a long time as since there are a lot of bugs in the game at the moment and the game engine could use some graphical and physical improvements. So if you are eager to get into the game right now, be aware that it is in early alpha, and that a lot of things are bugged or missing from the game. With that aside, I will focus this preview on the content, given the alpha code leaves a lot to be desired in both graphics and animations. Lifeless does manage to implement some new things into the genre though which is a pleasant surprise.
Making your way
Lifeless uses a similar character progression system as Infestation: Survivor Stories, where you will receive experience points doing a multitude of things, and this will get you to level up which in its turn lets you spend a skill point on some different character traits. While this is a good idea, it isn´t as good as it has the potential to be. It isn´t even close to how good the character progression is in other MMOs, where leveling up can actually matter to the character. Like all Zombie “MMOs” out here, Lifeless is about surviving, and not getting killed by either zombies or players is not the only thing to worry about. There is the usual need to find food and drinks as with other Zombie survivor games. But Lifeless does add some new elements as well. For instance, there is the need to keep warm, since body temperature plays a part. But the biggest differences are how all limbs have their own damage meter. Having a damaged leg will make you slower, and a damaged arm can lower your accuracy. But sadly, like most things in Lifeless in its current state, this looks great on paper and works very poorly or in some cases not at all in the game.
The Modern World, Lifeless
Lifeless’ setting is much more of a modern world like you would see in the West. This is especially apparent in the indoor areas where you can move around rooms with computers and TV’s, making the already light and modern houses feel a little less boring then the dark and gloomy houses of DayZ. While this adds a nice addition to the game, the current lack of details in and outside of the houses still makes this a repetitive world to move around in. To try and make it less repetitive Rigid-Soft tries to implement world events. These can manifest in loot drops from a plane which the players fight over, hordes of zombies, or NPCs to protect. But sadly in all my time in Lifeless I didn’t encounter any of these. This could, admittedly simply be a result of them not being implemented yet, I’m not sure. While I do like the idea of events happening in a Zombie survival MMO, I would have hoped for them have a clearer and bigger vision with this, now it just seems like a cheap way to keep players playing, in theory at least. Lifeless also introduces a faction system. There are three factions to pick from: Civilians, Military, and a free-roaming Bandit faction. These are all supposed to fight over land, and the more you line to one faction, the more aggro you get from the other ones. While this looks good on paper, it is, again, not something I have encountered in my alpha play through. At the moment though I have a really hard time seeing this work.
Fortify your house and never leave
Lifeless have a very limited crafting system in which you can gather three basic materials in the world: wood, metal, and rock. With these materials you can then craft a small number of improved weapons and the like. At the moment, this is not working well at all and feels extremely glued on. But one nice addition that is already implemented and that works ok is the fortifying of buildings. With the right equipment you can smack up boards in windows and make safer place for you character. While this is a feature DayZ is planning on implementing it’s already in Lifeless, working in a similar way is it does in State of Decay. But this really isn’t enough to raise my opinion on the game.
At the first glance this feels like a pure DayZ clone, but after playing it for a while you notice it is not even close to DayZ. While it does have better movement, less copy-pasting, and a greater variation in environments, Lifeless is more of an Infestation: Survivor Stories clone, in that bad way many of us know the survival game formerly called WarZ as. Lifeless does have the potential of becoming a good game though! There are great ideas for factions, character progression and world events. But there is some doubt about them being pulled off. Unfortunately as it stands now, I am sad to say that Lifeless will be forgotten quickly, and probably never reach half of the potential that it has. So if you are waiting for DayZ to be released in a final version, do continue waiting. Lifeless in its current build is not worthy of your money, and the prospects for a good beta build is very far into the future. All of that being said, I would love to be proven wrong about the future of this survival MMO with so much potential.Related: Alpha, Lifeless, Preview, Survival