Elf Concerns: Soldak’s Zombasite Is Available Now

Soldak are among my favourite developers. With Din’s Curse, Drox Operative, and Depths of Peril they have three ARPGs that put the static worlds of their glossier genre-mates to shame. Quests are dynamic in a Soldak game and the world and its NPCs interact while you’re looking the other way. Fail to follow up on objectives in good time and you might find that you’ve failed a particular quest and you’ll have to live with the consequences

Zombasite [official site] is the latest game from the studio and it’s in Early Access now. I was excited to play but first impressions aren’t entirely positive.

First of all, it’s important to note that I’ve enjoyed what little I’ve played of Zombasite. It has the same combination of randomised towns and wilderness areas packed with quests and monsters that made previous Soldak games such a compelling experience. On top of that there’s a zombie infection angle, which feels somewhat novel given the fantasy setting. As well as introducing a new breed of monster – the undead come in various flavours – the undead plague adds a survival layer to the game. You collect food to feed your clan and can help other nearby clans with their problems. Or fight them.

It’s a very busy game, with loads of quests available right at the start. I was told that my nemesis had slaughtered a human settlement and had to be stopped minutes after beginning my first playthrough. That was the first time I’d even realised I had a nemesis. When I stepped out into the randomly named wilderness – the superbly appropriate-for-the-genre “Desert of Items” – I killed a bunch of monsters, collected a stack of loot and met a couple of clans. Then I murdered a man I’d been attempting to rescue from a terrifyingly speedy zombie. He turned on me as soon as I rescued him because he was a bastard in disguise.

It was all jolly good fun, in a confused, mindless sort of way. My main concern is that it felt almost exactly like playing one of the early fantasy Soldak games. The zombie theme might provide some long-term twists on the formula, particularly if the need for food and the infection of NPCs is well-balanced and creates some tension. Otherwise, it’s a little too much like business as usual – sure, it’s a good business but I’m not sure if Zombasite is ready to displace Din’s Curse from my hard drive just yet. Let’s see how Early Access pans out over the next couple of months and how a few more hours play leaves me feeling.

Soldak have released betas in the past but this is the first time they’ve gone the Steam Early Access result. You can buy from Valve’s store but the direct option is still available as well. The game supports Windows, Mac, and Linux.

10 Comments

  1. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Since your main concern with the game is that it follows too closely in the footsteps of its predecessors, is it safe to assume that those of us who have never played Soldak games before won’t find much to object to?

    • Baines says:

      Hrm, not necessarily?

      Soldak games are good. I can’t really think of anyone else who does dynamic quests with a world that goes on doing its own thing regardless of what you do, but even if you play single game of theirs long enough it can start to feel a bit samey.

      Their fantasy games have a potential extra issue in that Soldak games tend to look about ten years older than they actually are. That isn’t a big deal with Drox Operative, where you are looking at tiny spaceships. But it can be a problem for some people with their fantasy games.

      An extra word of advice: If you do give a Soldak game a try, then really give it a try. It can take a bit for their style of game to “click” for a person.

      • Cocoarico says:

        I agree whole heartedly, this is an insta buy for me having played depths of peril and drox operative to death.
        But the worlds do fall a little flat after a while. You definitely get out of it what you put in, which isnt for everyone.

    • Gynoug says:

      Especially then i recommend you should give it a try. Soldak has this “own” thing in their games, it is hard to put in words but it is sort of a slightly sandboxy Arpg experience where you as player have some meta-possibilities to meddle with the gameworld.

      Also they (Soldak) are just 2 guys (iirc) who breed and hatch nice games once in a while and in their own pace and style.

  2. DoktorV says:

    Soldak’s games also run natively in Linux without any finagling, so if you’re only a semi-sophisticated Linux user who likes computer games, their output is great. I liked almost everything about Din’s Curse. It did ultimately get a bit stale, and there wasn’t quite as much character customization as I would have liked, but I certainly got very good entertainment value for money from it.

  3. alms says:

    Not sure where that Steam subscription link comes from, seemingly it’s broken and only contains one item, so this is the correct storefront page link:

    link to store.steampowered.com

  4. socrate says:

    The big BIG problem of soldak game is that you play one you’ve played them all…the graphic is beyond bad..in my eyes it never really improved..drox operative look a bit better because its a space game but the graphic are still the same really out of date graphic you shouldn’t see today…their game also suffer from using innovation but not finishing up on this…its a good idea that always seem to end up half assed and unfinished and once you end up noticing that its just that and repeat itself you end up losing interest quite fast in these games.

    They could have went for a bigger team,get a decent engine and improve everything but yet stick to 2 people for some stupid reason…

    i think they are over hyped and the idea behind them are amazing but the execution is always unfinished or really really poorly done.

    • Throwback says:

      I have to disagree. At first I thought the same as you, that the execution was poor. But as I have played more I’m blown away by how deliberate and brilliant the execution is.

    • Throwback says:

      Also I’d like to comment about the ‘flat’ feeling worlds – which ARPG doesn’t feel flat after you’ve put 20+ hours into it? It’s probably impossible to design an ARPG that isn’t repetitive, but soldak has done the best job I’ve ever seen – I love going to new areas and seeing what crazy new combination of mobs I am going to have to deal with (din’s curse)

  5. Lithare says:

    I would add that the issue of food and some other interesting new NPC traits create a bit more need for thought and awareness when recruiting/keeping NPCs in your clan. There are some that would be worthless in your party but have skills that can randomly generate extra food, potions, and items. Still seeing what all that offers. But when food is a scarce resource, and more people drastically increases the need, it makes your choices matter a great deal more. My “recruit everyone” mentality early on made me the most powerful clan…until we started starving.