Dawn of Survivors
Switch version tested
Review code provided
The budget titles that litter the eShop vary in quality, scope, scale, and overall fun. Today we are taking a quick look at the latest zombie game to enter the crowded market Dawn of Survivors. We will be following this impressions summary up with a full review after the game has had time to develop a community to fully test its true intentions as a game.
Yes, above all else, this game is worth your time and attention. The price may push away as many people as it pulls in, but this is an experience worth the price of admission. That said let’s take a deeper look what Wistone Entertainment has brought to the world.
At its core Dawn of Survivors (DoS) is an online, zombie, survival base building game. While many games have tried a similar approach, a game like the more recent Metal Gear: Survive failed in part due to the pure lack of fun. DoS above everything included in the $1.99 (£1.59) package is a lot of fun.
As you awaken, naked in a lab, players quickly realize DoS is not going to ease you into the world. Through some brief text interactions, you learn just enough to survive, or die a few times, and escape into the world. DoS does not hold your hand at all, you will learn the systems and mechanics on your own through trial and error. Whereas in the lab the game is presented from a traditional 3rd person perspective, the shelter area, as well as gathering areas, are presented in a more top-down perspective. While jarring at first this helps set the tone for what kind of interactions you can expect. From interactions so far the 3rd person levels do not include the traditional gathering of natural resources but are instead are filled with the undead, boarded up doors you need to open and human players.
As stated before this is an online survival game so interacting with others is inevitable. In our time with the preview build, this happened in two specific locations one being a time-limited market. These interactions were hostile engagements as the aggressor immediately attacked. However, one interaction found our main character able to help tackle one of the larger zombie types in the game with another player. That said, the combat with DoS is very simplistic and clunky. Hit detection is not 100% accurate and really shows this when the player takes damage. Sometimes the flash of red on the screen and the sound effect of being hit is the only indication that you have been hit by a blow that appeared to miss you in general.
The control as a whole is more of a chore than it needs to be at first. Understanding that this is a game of systems the controls become more manageable. While in your shelter you spend the majority of your time in the menus. moving items from your limited inventory into boxes that you create so that you are able to scavenge more items the next time you go out. While this is simple in theory the execution has you making sure you are holding the right components to build a floor tile as well as the components needed to create a box. Unless you’ve created and equipped a backpack, this can cause you to run back and forth to storage. Once in the home shelter area building based on what is available would be simpler than having to actually carry the items. This feels like something that can be patched in the future and would streamline the experience. The base building itself feels a touch stilted but ultimately does the job.
Visually, DoS is very reminiscent of the Xbox series Crackdown albeit without the polish. The characters and the world are very colourful with a bold outline giving it an almost comic come to life feel. This is more apparent in the 3rd person areas as the gathering areas are very limited visually and can just be dull. The animations are also limited. Each zombie type has a few animations but nothing that shows that they are interacting with the world they inhabit. The player model while limited does have a more fluid set of animations. Unfortunately, in the 3rd person area, it appears that you are skating across the environment as opposed to running. The attack animations are repetitive but do serve their purpose. The lack of a gathering animation at first was odd but fits as it speeds along the action and would become cumbersome with the amount of time you would have to wait for a canned animation to happen while picking up lumber, fibre, ore, etc. Being a zombie game there was a surprising lack of blood and gore but this does not detract from the experience.
The sound…or lack thereof does detract from the experience. There were sections where there was no music or sound. After a quick volume check on the TV it became apparent that the audio department was not where this was going to shine. The soundtrack is looping track that evokes no emotional response and really just fills the void left by the lack of other sounds. No footsteps or any audio indication of approaching danger forces you to study your mini map. This can get confusing as the rabbits that dart across the map register the same way as the agile zombie type. Weapons all have an impact sounds but nothing that deliver the satisfying thuds and squishes like others of similar ilk.
Everything about this game, as previously stated, revolves around the various systems. While overwhelming at first the menus are simplistic and are easy to follow. Everything you gather in the world serves a purpose. This includes items used to create tools and weapons, to the level of fabricating a base, a farm with water purifiers and cooking areas. Random items like cell phones and necklaces can be used to when the time-sensitive travelling salesman arrives. Here you can trade those once useless items for more need things like weapons you don’t have blueprints for yet or hard to craft items. Cooking items and purifying water work on a timer that will require a strategy when planning your next outing. The overworld map shows the areas you can travel (you can travel further if you craft vehicles) to as well as the location of other players encampments you can visit or raid once you have levelled up. Levelling up allows you to assign points to unlock blueprints to craft much-needed items including a watchtower needed to engage in raids on other players.
Everything that has been nitpicked about DoS is valid but ultimately feels irrelevant. This game is FUN. The stress of tracking down elusive components needed to either build up your base or just hunting for food is a thrill as you battle the zombies and your own thirst and hunger meters. What Wistone has created is a compelling game that, in a tweet from the @DawnOfSurvivors account, won’t include micro=transactions. This game will ultimately only survive if a community is there to carry it. The budget price, ambition and ultimately the execution make this an easy title to recommend. We will be digging in further and offering a formal review after the servers have had time to welcome more players. In its pre-release state, Dawn of Survivors is a must for fans of the genre.
Check back soon for our official review
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 18/04/2019 (19th UK)
No. of Players: 1-5
Category: Adventure, RPG, Action
Publisher: WISTONE ENTERTAINMENT
Download link: eShop