How to Survive Review: A gory and silly adventure
Really fun survival game with a great sense of humor.
Developer: Eko Software
Publisher: 505 Games
Available for: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Note: This review is based entirely on the offline co-op experience.
How to Survive is a game about trying to get off an archipelago filled with all sorts of wonderful things like zombies, monsters, and zombie monster animals.
How to Survive, as the name suggests, is a survival game that requires you to take care of basic human needs like eating, drinking, and sleeping. It’s bloody. It’s violent. Most importantly though, H2S (as it’s actually abbreviated) is a ridiculous and very fun game to experience with a trusty friend by your side.
The game’s world is divided into 4 different islands, each with their own fun little additions like exploding zombies, piranhas. You will grow to hate both.
H2S is all about surviving. This applies both to you, and to the colorful cast of folks you’ll meet along the way on the different islands. Everyone you meet is trying to survive in their own way, and of course your help is required by those fine folks, whether it’s failing to rescue girls precariously dangling from trees, or failing to procure the equipment you need to get away from the island.
As you stroll through the islands hacking and shooting at hordes of zombies, you will also come across guidebooks. These are survival tips left behind by one of (if not the) most amusing character you get to meet, KOVAC [sic]. This mask-wearing gentleman with a strong eastern European accent provides not only helpful tips about the islands and, ahem, how to survive, but also helps you out on your travels with items and crafting help.
He also has 12 monkey friends (who each have a parrot friend, because this is the friendliest zombie island). Help the monkeys and they’ll give you nice, mostly shiny things in turn, which usually prove to be very useful.
The sustenance aspect of survival is pretty big, and – unless you spend skill points on the relevant skills – you will spend a decent amount of time making sure your character is not starving, dehydrated, or dead tired. While you won’t be severely penalized for having any of those things happen to your character – ie you won’t drop dead – having hunger, thirst, or tiredness reach 0% will have detrimental effects on your character’s ability to fight.
Luckily, the islands have plenty of wells, bottles, and fruit which do a great job of quenching your thirst. To take care of those hunger pangs, there are fruit and root vegetables to pick, and animals to hunt or even fish.
Wandering the islands of H2S you will encounter deer, tapirs, and emus. Just like with real animals, loud noises or unsuccessful attempts to kill will result in either the animals running away or occasionally attacking you. Watch out for zombie animals though – those things are angry! And they don’t leave any meat. Which is probably for the best.. should you really be eating dead zombie animal flesh?
The islands also have lots of plants which can be used to make potions… one of the most useless aspect of the game. Potions only last 15 seconds each, and both the potions and their ingredients take up valuable inventory space which can be better used to collect spare parts for scrap-metal shooting guns.
If you get tired, which you will, you have very limited options. Your best course of action is to head to a safe house, which are located sparsely around the islands (provided by your friendly neighborhood KOVAC!). To gain access to a safe house, you need to clear out waves of zombies both from within and outside of the safe house. Even with two people with complementary fighting styles, this can be a bit of a challenge from time to time. If you’re not careful, you will definitely be overrun, so keep an eye out.
The other huge part of H2S is crafting. As you walk around and kill/find things, you’ll be able to make all sorts of stuff – some edible, some equippable, and some with various other uses. You will sometimes find blueprints for making all these things as you explore, but it’s much more fun to experiment on your own by combining various things and seeing what can be made. Most of the things you can combine can also be uncombined, so usually you won’t lose anything.
Except tires. You can see tires everywhere but you can’t always pick them up. Considering tires are necessary for crafting most equipment, the significant shortage of tires can be pretty aggravating.
If you’re a pack rat, you’re out of luck – there is literally too much stuff to get. Before long you will find yourself dropping things in safe houses (where you can at least you pick them up later) or collaborating with your buddy to create a makeshift shared inventory (just make sure whoever is carrying the healing items is not stingy with them!).
How to Survive also throws in RPG elements like stats and skill points. Some of the skills are nice but many are the same across all three playable characters, and don’t provide too much varying customization. For instance, the main skill tree branch of the heavyset melee tank deals with creating arrows.
If you’re looking for fun, dark humor, and more items than you can shake a stick at/hold, absolutely give How 2 Survive a try. If you have a partner in crime to play with, even better. Hunting down things and later getting chased by those same things is much more humorous when you have someone to share in your failures.
Either way, pack your bags, row your boats, and get ready to survive!
Or at least try to survive.