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
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.