What happens when you combine “Left 4 Dead”, “Monaco”, and “State of Decay”? Why, you end up with a little gem like “Survivor Squad”, of course! I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this game as it has a little bit of everything I enjoy from the aforementioned games. For those of you who haven’t seen my reviews or videos on any of those games, “Survivor Squad” is a top-down squad-based strategy game set in a zombie infested world. Before I touch on specifics, I’d like to thank game developer Hugo Cardoso from Endless Loop Studios for providing me with a free press copy.
The main menu allows the player to participate in both single and multiplayer games as well as set game options. The options menu is easy to navigate and provided me with everything I needed to customize my experience: screen resolution, full screen, audio volumes, vsync, video quality, pan speed, customizable keybinds…you name it. The single player options will give the user three different modes in which to embark: campaign, death lab, and survival. The multiplayer aspect lets you direct connect or search for an opponent online…one player will play as the survivor while the other plays as the infected.
Most of my time was spent in the campaign mode, which is by far the most deep of the three modes in terms of gameplay. While death lab and survival are quick and dirty solutions for fast games, campaign will draw players in for the long haul. To sum up the campaign mode, you’ll be experiencing a story while at the same time, bouncing back and forth between new locations and your home bases. While at your home base, you can construct new items with the loot and raw materials that you bring back from your missions. You’ll only have access to a few recipes in the beginning, but you’ll pick up more assuming you bring back the blueprints you find during your travels.
The world map is broken up into nodes. Your time will be mostly spent picking a node & traveling to it, clearing it from infected, and heading back to your base with the loot you’ve found. In addition to loot, you might find other survivors that are willing to join your little band of merry men and women. While being limited to only four survivors during the loadout screen, you can level them up and pick which items they’ll bring with them into the mission/node. The level up screen isn’t all that complex…you’ll simply pick one of three passive skills that give the character in question a unique buff. The three abilities you’ll have access to depends on the level.
When it comes time to actually control your squad, you’d better have a pair of spare undergarments handy. The top-down view may appear unintimidating, but the limited line of sight that characters observe make it easy for infected to sneak up on you. If you’ve ever played “Teleglitch” or “Monaco”, you’ll understand how the point of view works in that characters can only see in the direction they’re looking in, while objects like walls and pillars block their view altogether. You’ll need to keep your squad alert and facing multiple directions if you’re aiming to keep them alive. In terms of weaponry, players will have access to various ranged and melee weapons as well as special gadgets to give them an edge.
While I won’t list out all of the game’s features, there are a few that stuck out and impressed me with their presence. For one, you can hold a particular keyboard button to see which lootable containers still remain for you to pick through. I also liked the fact that you are limited by backpack space, with some items (like blueprints) taking up more space than others. This forced me to make some pretty touch decisions…do I leave wood and scrap behind so that I can unlock a new blueprint, or do I need them to craft more guns? You can craft bigger backpacks for your survivors down the line, but my inner OCD child wanted to carry back everything I found. You’ll run into some special infected (jumpers, spitters, etc.), similar to the nasties you’d find in “Left 4 Dead”. Finally, I was able to do mostly everything with my mouse even though keybinds existed for the benefit of those who like keyboard shortcuts.
To sum things up, “Survivor Squad” is an example of what top of the line indie games all are about. It has a little bit of everything…strategy, top-down action, zombies, crafting, loot management, and more. For $8.99 (the retail price as of 11/8/13), you can’t go wrong. I’ve spent over five hours in the campaign alone, and I’m still playing my first game thus far! The game is on sale through Steam however for 25% off until November 15th, so definitely pick it up if you have the cash to spare…you won’t regret it. There’s a demo on the official site (link below) should you wish to try before you buy.
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can learn more about and purchase the game by visiting the following websites: