Zombie Apocalypse games have been popular for a long time. From the largest to the smallest of studios, many developers have thrown their hats into the ring, trying to make the most realistic survival experience possible. The developers at Sandswept haven’t been satisfied by the games on offer. To re-animate the corpse of the zombie survival genre, they bring us The Dead Linger.
Funded by over four-thousand Kickstarter backers and making over two and a half times its pledge goal, Sandswept’s vision of a zombie infested world is one that gamers clearly want to see come to fruition.
You begin the game abandoned in a random location with no equipment. The undead litter the landscape. The only thing you have to rely on is instinct. To find supplies and formulate a plan, shelter is required. There are houses aplenty, but who knows which is safe?
Bedrooms hold items of clothing such as football helmets, hiking boots and overcoats. These increase protection against the undead – although sometimes at the expense of how quickly you can move. Fully kitted-out and with pistol in hand, you take to the streets.
The world of The Dead Linger is dense with roaming zombies. To conserve ammunition and avoid being overpowered by a hoard, making your way from house to house is the best way to get around. Occasionally one of the more agile zombies will get the better of you; a bullet to the brain will dispatch it, but will also get the attention of other undead nearby. Carrying a melee weapon – such as the hilarious toilet plunger – will allow for a silent dispatch at the expense of having to get up close and personal.
To avoid becoming infected, the player must keep their infection risk low. Staying away from infected items and avoiding being bitten by zombies is paramount to survival. Once you are infected there is no cure. Slowly the infection will take hold of your body, until you become one of the undead. This feature is all the more interesting in multiplayer. A player who is infected will show no symptoms up until they pass away. They are under no obligation to inform their comrades. Paranoia may set in, causing cracks to form in player alliances. Sandswept would do well to further develop this feature and increase the stakes for death in multiplayer games.
Playing The Dead Linger with friends is a fun and tense experience. Having each other’s back, keeping alert and having an understanding of when to pull the trigger is the best way to survive. Looting houses efficiently and taking items back to you base camp will keep bullets in your chamber and food in your belly. At present multiplayer is a little buggy. Zombie synchronisation isn’t quite perfect; you will be attacked while zombies are nowhere near you. Sometimes the undead exhibit the remarkable ability to walk through walls. Considering the game is in alpha, these issues are understandable.
There are a variety of different locations and buildings in The Dead Linger. Housing estates are the most common, with rows of houses repeated over and over. Making your way through the woods to the countryside reveals a barn building, with a silo and rows of crops to hide in/get eaten in. A Walking Dead style prison can also be found and is the ideal place to set up camp. Random map generation assures that no two maps should ever be the same. Equipment, food and weapons are spread across the map at different locations every time you play. Not knowing what items you might find next keeps the experience fresh.
At present there isn’t a whole lot to do in the Dead Linger. Scavenging items and moving from location to location makes up the bulk of what is currently available. Multiplayer makes the game a lot more fun but is essentially the same. Sandswept are constantly updating the game and adding new features. Plans for future updates include new buildings and locations, friendly NPC’s, vehicles, player customisation, and crafting. Providing more content will prevent players from burning out on what is already on offer.
Fans of the zombie survival genre would do well to stay up to date with the development of The Dead Linger. At present it offers a fun – if short lived – survival experience. Collecting the best equipment and enough food to last multiple zombie apocalypses is fun solo or in multiplayer. Exploring the handful of larger buildings for items is enjoyable, but will leave you wanting more. Some fans have complained that the rate at which new content is released has been very slow, so it may be worthwhile keeping that in mind before you purchase.
The team at Sandswept are definitely heading in the right direction. While TDL is rough around the edges – it is an alpha after all – it has potential. With more content and some polish, the game will be one to watch.
The Dead Linger is in Alpha and can be purchased from http://www.thedeadlinger.com/iwanttolinger