GamingReview: Expedition Zero

Review: Expedition Zero

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Expedition Zero is an indie survival horror that, for the most part, can hold its own against the best in the survival horror genre. The game starts with character you control sharing some inner monologue about being left for dead as you identify your surroundings as some sort of frozen, mostly untouched landscape save for a shelter that you need to enter.

What quickly transpires is that you’re trapped in a walled quarantine zone because of some form of plague and a mysterious person who sells you things will help you get out if you cure it. That, however, is pretty much it as far as the story goes. Sure, you get some additional details in text, but it’s light. For a survival horror game that is quite unusual. What the information from the developer tells us that we’re in the Siberian wilderness and trying to escape a plague that had devastated the area.

You quickly find yourself roaming around this zone, and the environment is well designed. Abandoned military camps, small village areas, a lot of woodland. It’s all creepy and well rendered in the Unreal 4 engine. The main monster roams around, you’ll be given a little bit of a warning and then you need to run! What I like about Expedition Zero is that you can shoot to scare it off rather than just must sneak around it or hope for the best. The whole atmosphere is really well created, the lack of soundtrack just leaving you with sound effects is a great decision to further that feeling. It’s also desolated, adding to the creepy factor. Then you get the darkness. Armed with a small headlamp there’s plenty of opportunity for plagued villagers to jump out at you – and they will!

Objectives can be hard to find, you don’t really get objective markers or a mini-map. While this may frustrate some players it adds to the feeling of isolation and the need to survive. As you wonder around you can search pretty much every container and find items that can be deconstructed and used to craft more useful objects. Much like other RPGs you have a carry weight limit, and a bag space limit that can be increased. You can also improve other parts of your outfit like the battery capacity. Some upgrades come at a cost – for example draining the battery quicker.

As well as a health bar you also must worry about a battery that decreases in charge and a cold meter that will decrease the longer you spend in the wilderness. Both are manageable with recharge stations and the ability to make some fires along the way to get warm. This adds to the overall immersive gameplay and survival mentality.

My favourite aspect? When you get colder you hear your character breathe heavily and the screen starts to freeze over making it more difficult to see. This is a nice graphical touch.

The game is full of puzzles and combat to give you a really varied experience. The main goal being to search for the samples you need to end the plague. Some of these puzzles don’t necessarily make sense; but it adds to the creepy factor. For example, in a church full of ghosts you need to hang paintings to move a pedestal.

All is not great in Expedition Zero though. There are still several bugs, especially with mouse tracking making it frustrating to select some interactable objects. The AI on the monsters is also a little off in places. As the game is being patched frequently, I see this as a plus as it means things can only get better.

Is Expedition Zero good? It’s better than you think. Reasonably priced, offers some unique features and very creepy. Definitely a worthy entry into the survival horror genre and with frequent patching the bugs are being ironed out.

SUMMARY

+ Creepy monsters and jump scares
+ Interesting survival mechanics
+ Good atmospheric conditions
- Can be buggy in places
- Lacking substantive story

Expedition Zero is available now digitally on PC.

Reviewed on PC.
James Refelian
James Refelianhttps://linktr.ee/refelian66
When I was seven years old I tried to write a spy novel. It was terrible; in case you wondered, but I’ve always loved stories. Then I got to play videogames and suddenly here were stories that could be told in so many ways, coming to life in front of my eyes. I’ve been hooked ever since and have enjoyed games on pretty much every platform you can imagine. If you love stories too then I hope my reviews help you discover something new. You can always celebrate storytelling with me on Twitter, Twitch and YouTube - @Refelian66.

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Review: Expedition Zero+ Creepy monsters and jump scares <br> + Interesting survival mechanics <br> + Good atmospheric conditions<br> - Can be buggy in places<br> - Lacking substantive story<br><br> Expedition Zero is available now digitally on PC. <br><br> Reviewed on PC.