Mist Survival

Mist Survival is hands-down the best single-player zombie survival game I’ve played to date. It takes the open-world survival elements of games like DayZ, but it cuts the annoying multiplayer bits — namely the other players and their penchant to hoard all of the good gear. Mist Survival also takes the better elements of State of Decay, namely the base management and location rummaging. It is not only one of the best-looking games of its kind, with a surprising level of detail, but it also manages to deliver some fine crafting and combat elements as well.

The basic premise is that you wake up in the woods a few years into a zombie apocalypse, which was brought on by an ominous mist that occasionally rolls in. The mist turns folks that aren’t immune to its charm into zombies of sorts, and it also somehow brings with it whatever zombies it has tucked away in its back pocket.

You are tasked with staying alive. You do this by rummaging through buildings and foraging the wilderness, living off the land and killing when you have to. And it ain’t just zombies that are begging for some lead; there are small bandit encampments dotted around the map who you might need to introduce to the business end of your hunting rifle. There are also bears, because life wasn’t hard enough, I guess.

I was initially overwhelmed during my first brief playthrough. There are a number of gauges for your character stats: health, hunger, thirst, fatigue, stamina, and cold. Thankfully, these meters are easy enough to manage once you get used to them. I personally enjoy having to manage my character’s stats, but in too many survival games, they drain ridiculously fast and end up feeling more like a chore than side challenge. Mist Survival balances these meters well.

The sheer amount of items you can find and collect in Mist Survival is daunting, to say the least. This is the kind of game that has like two different stick types, one of which can be crafted into a whole ‘nother stick.

And this feeds into the crafting system, which is admittedly a bit cumbersome, since there are three separate crafting menus that are only marginally differentiated from one another, and they overlap enough that the developer might as well have just combined them into one coherent system.

Mist Survival

Throughout the game world there are shacks, cabins, and houses that you can claim as your base. Once claimed, this will be where you respawn after death. Death. you see, is not permanent in Mist Survival. You seem to always be able to respawn, albeit severely injured and with a good amount of your items lost.

Bases also allow you to take in stragglers and get a sort of community going. You can then instruct your wards to do some of the chores around the place, although I haven’t figured out how to attract anyone, nor am I certain that this element has been properly implemented into the game yet. One morning I did find some dead folks scattered around my house, but I didn’t get any prompt alerting or notifying me that they had been outside, clawing to get into the safety of my shelter while I was obliviously sleeping.

Mist Survival also has drivable vehicles. Once you collect four wheels, a spark plug, an engine, a battery, and some gas, you’re are ready to go for a spin. This is actually really awesome. It works similar to State of Decay, where there are limited amounts of cars and items to fix them up with (though Mist Survival is even more limited than State of Decay in this regard).

Mist Survival

These vehicles are a great way to get around quickly, but they serve an additional purpose as well. Unlike State of Decay — and so many of the other games with similar mechanics — in Mist you can actually unhook the tailgate of your pickup, climb in the back, and drop items into the bed to your heart’s content (or until it’s bursting at the seams, at least).

I can’t begin to express how incredibly awesome this is. Anyone that’s played any game with scavenging will tell you that inventory caps are the fricking worst. It sucks having a backpack full of useful items, only to find one more useful item that you really want. Now you must now decide if you want to drop something or waste a ton of time heading back to base to store your current haul so you can come all the way back for that one extra item.

Shoot, even the mist in Mist survival is cool. The way it slowly creeps in until it envelops the landscape, and seeing the walking dead peppered throughout like black smudges in an even greater gray smudge.

Mist Survival

But this leads me to my biggest complaint about Mist Survival. The zombies are basically nonexistent. By design, they mostly only appear in the outdoor section of the open-world, and typically only when the mist rolls in. (They also appear at night, and they’ll occasionally show up inside houses or other structures.) The sun damages them, so these restrictions make sense within the game lore, and I am fine with that.

Under the right conditions, there certainly are some zombies shambling about, and they are definitely capable of dealing some damage. However, in the absence of the mist (or the darkness of night), and considering the bandits are relegated to small pockets around the map, there really isn’t a real sense of danger to the world aside from the random bear.

You can easily sleep through the night (and since you need to keep your stamina up and fatigue down, there is no real advantage to scavenging at night) or when the mist rolls in, which keeps the zombies mostly at a distance. Sure, they’re there, but you’ll rarely have to think about them or plan for them.

This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the zombie animations, character models, and A.I. are not really up to snuff, so only seeing them obstructed by the mist or in the darkness of night probably does them a big favor. On the other hand, their general absence makes the game as a whole feel like an almost threat-less zombie apocalypse.

This kind of sucks because Mist Survival is otherwise one of the best games in its genre. It has so many amazing elements already, with plenty of groundwork for later development. I am really enjoying my time with it, there’s no question about it. But boy, do I wish there were more zombies just sort of shuffling around in the background to really sell the atmosphere and sense of danger.

Mist Survival

Mist Survival is credited as being developed and published by Dimension 32 Entertainment, but as far as I can tell, Rati Wattanakornprasit is pretty much the sole mastermind behind Mist Survival. This is no doubt why there are some constraints on so many of the elements and mechanics of the game right now (which is in Early Access, so I get it). In fact, this is likely the reason for the odd shortage of pants currently in Mist Survival, to say nothing of the more elaborate elements and systems.

I just hope that as Mist Survival continues to grow and evolve, and that all of its shortcomings are eventually worked out. With some tweaks, this zombie survival game could really fly high.

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