Hits a bit too close to home….
Survivalist: Invisible Strain?
This game may have flown under your radar due to it being an indie game as well as being an early access game. However, this game is a gem. This game mixes survival game with a post apocalyptic zombie-ridden world. The setting is common enough nowadays, but its implementation is good.
Have you ever played State of Decay 1 and 2? Invisible Strain plays exactly like State of Decay 2 but it’s more hardcore and rough. Instead of moving into an abandoned base in SoD 2, you build your own base.
The reason the title is Invisible Strain is due to several aspects within the game.
Zombies in the game has four visible strains, green, blue, red, and white. Green zombie is the weakest and white zombie is the strongest. Green, blue, and red strains have cures if bitten. No cure for white strain. If bitten by a white strain zombie, you will be done for within a minute. Finally, there is an invisible strain which doesn’t turn a person into a zombie. Instead, the virus lurks. Now, if you happen to recruit a NPC who has this invisible strain, the NPC will work toward destroying your community.
Now, this invisible strain isn’t limited to NPCs you recruit. It can happen to NPC factions.
Additionally, zombies have unlimited stamina and can run as fast as you can in this game. Therefore, running away is not an option unless there happen to be some NPCs nearby.
It is also very possible that you will see a game over screen within 10 seconds after starting up. I was very lucky at my first playthrough as the game dropped me right in middle of raider groups.
The game world moves on with you or without you.
Once you create your character, the game begins to simulate the zombie ridden world regardless your input. Factions will fight each other even if you do nothing. Traders will attempt to visit various places to strike deals. Wanderers will attempt to find a good place to settle down.
Your job is to survive. The game also wants you to build a base and recruit people, but it’s not hardcoded. You can certainly get by not building a base and not having any companions at all. But you will eventually settle down on a spot and recruit random NPCs. You kind of have to do that in order to survive winter. You could steal but that is not a solution for long term survival.
You are weak IF you are alone.
It doesn’t matter how much you gear up, if jumped by a large group of even green strain zombies (the weakest kind), you WILL go down. This is why I stated that you will eventually settle down. Once you have one or two NPCs under your belt which you can fully control by switching over but only one at a time, you will need to set up a base for food and basic shelter from elements. The latter is very important because freezing rain hurts far more than just snow, AKA hypothermia.
The most painful moments in the game came from Winter. My own camp was barely hanging on. The game suggested around 33 days worth of food to get through winter. Alas, my own food storage had around 25 days of worth, meaning my own people were going to starve at one point. I could alleviate the food shortage by hunting which is not easy and takes time. It has to be done manually as well.
Either way, I predicted a close call.
Sadly, I wasn’t the only one with food issues. Wandering NPCs who I had originally granted access to began to beg for food as winter went on. If refused several times and they starve enough, they would outright steal.
After numerous thefts, I had to send a toon at entrance and revoke access to former friends while denying their begging for food. I know it’s just a game but it was a painful moment for me. I had plenty of food for the time being but it was only early winter. Farming takes a while to bear its harvest as well, so there would not be any harvest for a long time.
As winter deepened, I saw unprepared NPCs wither and die. It was survival at the finest. Zombies didn’t get them; the nature did.
Invisible Strain = paranoia
Invisible Strain acts as a final boss for the game. The default game without changing any sliders will have a mere 3% of any NPC spawning with invisible strain. However, a single infected NPC is all you need for it to spread slow and surely.
Once you get your hands on a brain scanner, you will start to see other NPCs with strong suspicions unless it displays zero percent of infection. Even a mere 1% of possibility is enough for you to kick a member out. The thing is, though, I didn’t get a brain scanner until 200ish hours into the game. Yes, the item is that rare apparently.
So, when I found out that one of my camp members had 3%, I was at a crossroad. She was a day one member for me. I ran into her as soon as the game started and she had been with me ever since. She didn’t show any signs of having invisible strain. But that was a possibility.
In the end, I kicked her out. And I noticed that a lot of other NPCs have higher possibilities as well. Basically, venture out with only MC since your own character never starts with invisible strain and recruit people with only 0%. Don’t let traders or any NPCs in unless they are at flat 0%. Yes, I do feel I am being paranoid here. However, invisible strain outbreak at your camp means pretty much game over unless you somehow escape and start over somewhere.
This is a good indie game that is pretty deep. If you liked State of Decay 2, you will love this. This game is basically a more hardcore version of State of Decay series. But this is more of a sandbox game. You have to set your own goals. The game won’t tell you anything other than basic tutorials.
And, in spite of being an early access game, it is perfectly playable. I’ve sunk over 200 hours into this and still find it enjoyable. Every map is different, so there is that aspect as well. It took me many, MANY, restart to find a map I liked which had iron, flint, lead, and stone all on one spot. These four materials are crucial in the game. You will want all of them, bar iron.
Flint makes arrows and lead makes gun ammo. You will burn arrows and ammo like a drunkard with bottles. Stone is a basic but necessary building material and it makes cement. You will need some iron but not a lot.
At the end of the day, I paid just 6 CAD for this game and spent well over 200 hours on it. The value for your money is very good on this one. If you like survival and zombie games, I don’t think many games will top this.
I am not saying this is the best game out there. Of course, it could be better. But, given the price point, I am not expecting more than what I’ve gotten.
But then, there is a game like Kenshi that started out like this game and became pretty successful. Hopefully, this game will take a similar path.