“There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware“
– Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth”
Here, where I’m now, a zombie apocalypse it’s one of the hardest things to imagine.
Here, where the Dolomites seem giants of rock that watch over the nature and where the green of the mountains is so intense that hurts your eyes; here, as I was saying, the horror of a civilization overwhelmed by an immense army of walking dead sounds just like a childhood fear.
Nevertheless, is out of question that zombies are one of the most terrifying inventions of the lasts decades. Personally I have a true obsession for anything related to the zombies. An obsession born when I watched for the very first time “Dawn of the Dead”. It was 1979 and at that time I was only 7 years old.
After I watched that movie I was unable to sleep for several days, then, after getting over the shock, I became a true horror movie addict!
So when, after six years from Dead State, I heard about a new turn-based zombie RPG, I decided that this was an unmissable opportunity to challenge again my fears. I was kindly invited by White Pond Games to the Alpha test of their game and what follows are my impressions.
So, the first question one should ask is: what is exactly Urban Strife?
The developers describe it as a turn-based survival RPG and, from what I’ve seen so far, the description is quite fair.
Before going any further, a premise is essential: the alpha test of the game offers only a little slice of what it will be the final game.
That being said, we can now talk about what the game really offers at the moment.
The story behind the test version of the game is quite simple. The electrified fence of your camp is going offline and the only guy who can repair it is out. Your mission? As you can imagine you will have to find him and bring him back to the camp. Simple? Not so much ad you will learn very soon.
Story aside, the first thing that catches your attention is the graphic. Since we are talking about an indie game, I wasn’t expecting anything special from this point of view, but I’ve to admit that, on this regard, Urban Strife can be really astounding. Even if the polygonal models of the humans and zombies are not so perfect, the textures are wonderful and, in general, you can notice a lot of details on screen with very good use of graphic effects.
We can safely say that under this point of you Urban Strife has a lot to offer.
But, as everybody knows, in a turn-based game what really matters is the gameplay. On this regard the game makes a lot of promises with features like “real ballistics”, “body parts targeting” and so on, but at the moment which one of these promises is really kept?
What we can say is that, as it is, the fights of Urban Strife can offer a lot of fun.
During a fight, there are many variables you have to consider, like, for example, the right stance to adopt (between crouch, walk and run) or the fire mode of your weapon (e.g. single shot, burst and so on) and each specific choice has a different impact on accuracy and on your odds to being hit.
Obviously the direct confrontation isn’t your only kind of approach. So, for example, if you want you can try to be more “stealthy” avoiding, in this way, to alarm the nearby enemies. Consider that this is a very delicate aspect to consider because your enemies – especially the smarter ones – can be alerted not only when they see you but also when they hear you.
The overall impressions, in this regard, is that the developers have realized a really engaging combat system, with multiple variables that make every fight fairly hard to master.
Outside the combat, the situation changes a bit: the game flows in real-time with direct control over the main character and your companions who follow you wherever you go. This is a very good choice from the developers because in this way the “exploration phase” of Urban Strife, that it’s quite “demanding”, can run much smoother. It’s interesting to notice that almost every container or box in this post-apocalyptic world is virtually lootable and often, after an accurate search, you can obtain a lot of material or objects useful for many purposes.
Still talking about what happens outside the combat, another important feature seems to be the dialogues between the characters. The impression from this point of view is that the developers are still working on that aspect, but, from what I saw so far is, is clear that when you talk to someone else is always possible to choose among multiple answers, each one expression of a neutral, nasty or friendly approach. As you might imagine your attitude towards the others has a direct impact on the quests too. So, for example, for the first quest you receive (eliminate a band of raiders), your answers will determine, not only the way you will do that (with a stealth kill of the leader or declaring a “real war”) but also the number of people on your side.
In conclusion: considering that we are talking about a game still in an alpha state with many aspects/features not developed yet and others a bit rough around the edges, my overall impressions are extremely positive.
Even now the game looks amazing and full of wonderful promises. My only concern, at the moment, is about the time of development. Urban Strife is under development for quite some time now and it still has got a long road ahead, but I’m sure that with the right support nothing can stop it!