ZERO Sievertby Aethyna Nov 23, 2022 | 1 Votes | 31 Played | 0 Reviews
People Also PlayedDisclaimer: ZERO Sievert is currently in early access and understandably, this means that the game is still a work-in-progress and hence, will be treated as such. This is simply a first-impression preview of the game and we’ll definitely be updating our preview once the game is fully launched.
ZERO Sievert is a hardcore survival game that’s set in a nuclear-devastated region, Zakov. Trapped within its confines with nowhere else to go, you’ve decided to become a Hunter; to venture out into the wilderness to scavenge useful gear, food, and items so you can survive, build up your base at the bunker, and even curry some favors with local factions by helping them out. Will you be able to survive the harsh new world in Zakov where mutants and bandits roam freely?
In 2014, with the blessing of the government, a nuclear power plant in the region of Zakov was taken over by a multinational company, the Crimson Corporation. They have turned it into a secret laboratory, conducting various experiments there that were rumored to be dangerous.
Everything the locals suspected ended up becoming true, despite vehement denial from the Corporation, when in 2017, the power plant exploded, devastating huge swathes of land, killing hundreds of thousands of people in one fell swoop, and turning what was once a developing region into a nuclear wasteland. The local fauna and flora that weren’t immediately killed by the blast were greatly mutated, while mutants who were once humans started to appear.
At first, the government still hopes to recover the region. They’ve sent in various personnel, including scientists to conduct tests on the mutated plants and creatures, and even an army regiment, the Green Army, to help the survivors. However, all those people ended up trapped when the government changed their minds and decided that it was best to simply quarantine the entire region – nothing in or out of the place, period!
With bandits, mutants, and dangerous mutated animals roaming about, the people in Zakov have banded up to carve out safe havens in Zakov. One such safe haven is Bunker ZERO Sievert and you’re one of the survivors who made it into the bunker. You decided to build a life for yourself here by becoming a Hunter, someone who ventures out into the dangerous wilderness to scavenge for useful loot. The story that comes next is a story that only you can tell.
Before you start the game, you’ll get to choose your set of starting equipment out of the six choices given. Although you can’t select individual items in the set, most of them contain basic gear like a weapon, a piece of armor, and a backpack, as well as some medical items, and some food. Here, you can also select Hardcore Mode, which I assume, would let you start a game with nothing but your wits, but I wasn’t able to test this out since it’s still in development.
I should also point out that the game doesn’t have any in-game tutorial – you know, the interactive kind that follows your progression? Instead, you’ll need to read through pages of the tutorial “manual”, covering crucial topics like Combat, Player’s Needs, and Items Info. Even if you’re an avid player of survival games, I highly recommend reading through the tutorial just to pick up on some information that you wouldn’t be able to learn otherwise... maybe except by reading through the list of input keys you have and trying them out in the field. Plus, the game can be pretty challenging, so you can save yourself the headache of trying to learn about the game as you play it by simply reading the tips given.
Now, the game plops you down in the bunker where you’ll get to talk to friendly NPCs, and learn more about what actually happened there and how these people ended up here at ZERO Sievert. Serving as the hub in this game, you can also accept and complete tasks in exchange for various rewards, trade with specific vendors around the place, stash any scavenged goods, craft or mod your gear at the workstation, sleep to restore fatigue, and add various modules, like a kitchen or a forge, to your base to unlock a host of other features such as cooking raw food. The NPCs, especially the Guide, are very helpful too, giving you tips that any beginner would find useful.
Once you’re ready to head out, the train conductor would be happy to ferry you to the destination of your choice… though, in the beginning, you’ll need to help him out first to go beyond the first two maps. There are several locations you can scavenge for loot in this game, ranging from the Forest to the Mall, and as you’d expect, the maps get increasingly more challenging as you travel further.
As an extraction looter shooter, you’ll have to make sure you get to the extraction point in one piece if you want to carry whatever loot you’ve scavenged back to the bunker. Every map comes with two extraction points, usually quite a distance from each other, that you can travel to. There’s also a quest that you can pick up on each map, that will reward you with some useful items when completed, similar to the tasks you take at the bunker.
The thing is though this is definitely easier said than done. Each location is home to a variety of enemies, ranging from bandits to mutants, to even mutated wolves who will hunt you down the moment you enter their territory. This is why it’s crucial for you to know how to avoid fights when you’re not ready and to also defend yourself if a firefight is unavoidable.
In this game, line of sight is an important factor when it comes to trying to be stealthy and sneaking around powerful enemies that you aren’t ready to take on… yet. You can make use of the various objects around you to shield you from an enemy’s view. During gunfights, these very obstacles can also be used as cover, allowing you to pop in and out to take potshots at the enemy. If you’re out and about at night, you can even sneak past an enemy under the cover of darkness by simply turning off any light source you may have on.
All of these factors combined to offer a fun tactical gunplay where recklessness is penalized with severe injuries or death. Dying isn’t a huge thing here though since the game will simply reload a previous autosave, which is right before you board the train. You’ll lose anything new that you’ve picked up after alighting from the train, but at least you will retain what you have prior. I should also point out that you’ll encounter friendlies while scavenging and exploring and, unlike bandits, they typically don’t shoot first and then ask questions later… that is, of course, unless you started shooting first.
Survival is another important aspect of the game. It’s vital to keep a watchful eye on important stats like hunger, thirst, fatigue, and radiation just so you don’t get penalized, like having your carry limit reduced. You can easily restore hunger and thirst by simply eating food and drinking any kind of beverage, though the quality of the item you consume matters too.
Fatigue, on the other hand, is tied to your stamina regeneration which would determine how often and how long you can run. To restore this, you’ll need to sleep and you can only do so by sleeping on any of the beds at the bunker – you don’t need to have your own bed to do so, though, sleeping on your own bed does confer some extra benefits. For radiation, naturally, the lower it is, the better. As opposed to taking only iodine pills, you can smoke cigarettes to reduce radiation in this game.
As mentioned, the main gameplay loop in ZERO Sievert is for you to scavenge useful loot, and bring them back to the bunker to either sell, use, or turn into something even more helpful. This means you’ll need to learn how to maximize your inventory when you're scavenging for loot. After all, you’ve got a limited number of slots to store whatever you’ve looted in this game in a way that’s similar to Diablo’s grid-based inventory system.
In addition, there’s also a weight limit, preventing you from carrying too much and still being able to run about like those items weigh nothing. You see, the game is designed to allow you to still move - but not run - if you exceed your carry limit by less than 5kg. Once you exceed even that extra limit, your character will become unable to move until you start chucking things out. Considering that the location refreshes every time you leave it, the items you leave behind won’t be there the next time. In a way, it’s similar to the Wastelands in The Serpent Rogue, minus the Corruption storm.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t provide an auto-sort function to help auto-rearrange the items in your inventory to free up grids for new loot. I should also mention that the game doesn’t pause while you’re arranging and rearranging stuff in your inventory, so you’ll want to make sure you are in a safe place when you do so. There seems to be a lag between opening up the loot table versus having the loot loaded in properly. This delay makes it much slower for you to loot everything in the game, though this is likely an early access quirk that'll be fixed prior to release.
In terms of progression, there are two visible kinds. The first involves increasing the stats of your character to improve his survival skills. For instance, increasing the Fitness stat will increase your character’s total stamina. You can access the list of attributes by bringing up your personal device screen, much like the Pip-Boy 3000 in Fallout. The second, on the other hand, includes the experience points you get by completing an extraction.
The game also comes with faction reputations that will change depending on what you do. However, as the game is currently in early access, reputation is reset and not saved, so you can essentially murder everyone that moves and suffer no consequences for your actions for now.
As many fans of the game will tell you, ZERO Sievert should definitely add in a co-op mode. The game is just too perfect to not have a co-op mode. Hopefully, this is a feature that the developers are currently working on!
The game features amazing pixel art that can really send you trudging down memory lane. Every item here is lovingly designed too, allowing you to easily distinguish them from other similar items. However, I’d just like to point out that the game can be really dark during the night – it is as though moonlight barely shines on the place - and it’s really recommended to grab a torch of some sort, a headlamp even, just so you can go out scavenging at night and not waste any time idling or sleeping when you don’t need to.
In terms of sound, ZERO Sievert comes with a really nice soundtrack that you’ll get to enjoy listening to on the menu. The game opted for realism while you’re in-game though, using ambiance and matching sound effects to create the right atmosphere for the location you’re in. Of course, due to the game’s radiation element, you’ll need to keep an ear out for the telltale crackling of the Geiger counter embedded in your personal device so you can avoid the spot until you get the right gear.
ZERO Sievert is truly a challenging survival game that you’ll find hard to put down. The game has a tough, albeit fair, gameplay and offers a progression that’s both rewarding and satisfying. Granted that the game is still a work-in-progress and some features aren’t available yet, if you’re a fan of survival games, ZERO Sievert is one title you’ll want to play!