How to Survive, up close and personal, is a zombie-themed third-person action game with survival elements, as you probably guessed by the title. It features a unique framing device, wherein the protagonist is reading a survival guide written by an experienced inhabitant of zombie-infested islands. It's a cute premise, but in practice just boils down to a really obtrusive, verbose tutorial. The core gameplay leans more into action than survival, taking place on several open maps with varied biomes and hazards, where you then assault the zombie hordes. Your capabilities in combat are largely decided by crafting and resource gathering. You can find all manner of objects in the world, slap them together with other objects, and now you have a cooler axe, or sturdier armor, or… really just about anything can be upgraded by scrounging around. Similarly, your attacks, weapons, and armor are all less effective if you're in poor health. You must forage for plants, fish, hunt animals, and of course cook them. You gotta stay hydrated, you gotta sleep, or at least, I guess, the game tells you that you have to do those things. You see, How to Survive is, uh, poorly balanced. The game gives you a lot, a whole lot, of crafting and combat options, but not much reason to use them. Sure, I could make a super weapon boomerang with three prongs and steel spikes, or an iron axe, or I could just stick with the default machete, which has infinite durability. And sure, I could also meticulously search for food, water sources, fuel, and fishing spots, but I could also just let my character starve and eat whatever I happen to stumble across on the critical path. How to Survive wants to be a tense, exciting game. It lives or dies on that tension. But not only is it too generous with its resources to be exciting, and its punishments too soft, but the actual zombies are rather flaccid. I get the idea, yeah? There's a limitless supply of flesh-rending abominations after you, one lonely soul against hundreds of beasts, but they're so easily corralled and so easily defeated with the most basic weapons and strategies. There's no reason to do any more than the bare minimum, and no reason to feel threatened. I know this can be difficult to communicate in review format, so let me try to illustrate. Anyway, here we are on a zombie island. We can shoot, we can stab. You're supposed to fight zombies on this zombie island. Let's see if I can't get a big horde going so we can talk about what I meant All right, so after we open this This safe house an alarm will sound and zombies should come running after us So we should get a pretty big we should get a pretty big crowd of zombies pretty fast Yeah, we got two big guys we got a we got a bunch of regular zombies pouring in from the sides Like with the amount of them We got a bunch of regular zombies pouring in from the sides. Like with the amount of them. This is clearly supposed to be like a hyper tense situation we found ourselves in, but I'm just not feeling it, you know? Like look at how many there are, and it just... I see that crowd of zombies, and I don't feel anything, you know? I'm not feeling anything. And that's because, uh, like maybe I'm just too used to this genre. Maybe I'm just too used to third-person shooters and third-person action games, but it's just so easy to walk around They don't really pose much of a threat. And you can see too, I'm thirsty, I'm tired. I should be feeling something. I should be feeling scared, I should be feeling tense. I should be feeling some unpleasant emotion which drives me to perform differently in combat. But it's not happening. I think this is the last one. I think this is it. Was that it? Music's dying down? Yeah, see that was an absolute... an absolute mess, an absolute slaughter. There was so much carnage, and it just, it felt like a breeze the whole time. Like any damage I took, I just took from being reckless, so I don't feel like the intense nature the game is going for is very well fulfilled by the actual game design. Even outside of the monotonous gameplay, which feels more tedious than terrifying, there are other issues. Like, occasionally certain plot events just won't trigger because the flags appear to be broken, and they need jiggled a bit to cooperate. Or sometimes dying will just straight up despawn whatever mini-boss you were currently wrestling with, effectively deleting what little challenge the game proposes. I don't mean to be harsh, yeah? But How to Survive just fails at pretty much every one of its goals. The survival and crafting mechanics feel meaningless, the enemies aren't threatening, and the game's core gimmick is just an extra annoying tutorial. I enjoyed playing it anyway, but it's not a good experience. you