In this review we will talk about Expedition Zero, a product of Enigmatic Machines that performs in an unsatisfactory way a rather popular survival horror concept
The human being is attracted to the unknown in a totally natural way; this innate thirst for knowledge, which leads to investigate the causes and the truth behind every minimum shadow of mystery it is the reason that led man to experience reality, examining the world and evolving in a self-sufficient way. The curiosity to know what lies behind a certain phenomenon, whatever its origin, has always been the vector that led to progress.
Also for this reason, humanity desperately needs to know what the future holds for it; knowing one’s destiny is impossible, yet one tries to predict anyway what will happen in the near or extremely distant time: this happened with religious beliefs, and now the same is true for pseudo-scientific hypotheses. The imagination thus leads to the generation of numerous scenarios, from the most utopian ones to those made up of merciless post-apocalyptic worlds which often find their greatest facets through the entertainment media. In fact, whether we are talking about films, TV series or video games, each of them places its own meaning in the post-apocalyptic genre, constantly transforming the canons.
Among the most popular titles of this type, in addition to the recent Fallout, The Last of Us Part 2 and Horizon Forbidden West, for several years games more based on the exploration of the survival horror world have been making their way, often very close to the iconic STALKER series in terms of setting, play style and plot. In addition, although there is a high number of bugs and woodiness, STALKER is still supported by an intriguing world and engaging quests. Expedition Zero seems to want to try to follow the same footsteps, but in this review of ours we will illustrate how the attempt clearly failed.
A trip to avoid
Expedition Zero, the protagonist of this review, presented itself in its various introductory trailers as a classic singleplayer survival horror title set in the cold Soviet lands: if you have had to deal with the progenitor games of this category (some of which were mentioned above), it will not be difficult to have more or less an idea of what you are going to encounter. Usually, these games take the user into a world subject to some kind of extreme change, due to a natural catastrophe, disastrous wars or scientific hazards, and even in this title you will have to face a situation more or less. similar.
The game takes place in the depths of rural Siberia, after the arrival of a meteorite completely transformed the wild frozen forests, making them the perfect home for terrifying horrors, and many other mysteries hidden from the eyes of the common population. This situation appears to be a reference to the famous film “The Thing”, but in the game the threats will not only originate from the ice. In the opening of the game our role will not be deepened in too much detail, and we will be thrown right away in an abandoned house near a frozen lake, without any kind of company.
But what will be the reason that will push us to want to make risky forays in the middle of the anomalous and inhospitable taiga? Thinking for example of Outlast, you go to impersonate a journalist about to document the shady events taking place in the asylum, while in STALKER you were just a poor man in search of fortune, thrill of danger, desire to escape from normality. In Expedition Zero, the question will be very simple: we must seek resources and survive. And unfortunately, this simplicity is also the point of origin of some main negatives.
It would have been better to go to agriculture – Expedition Zero Review
By launching into the game, the purpose of our presence in this desolate location will not be clarified: in the refuge at our disposal it will be possible to collect various items useful for survival, but still in an extremely limited way. To go to unlock new technologies to build (skills justified with the fact of being a Soviet engineer) it will therefore be necessary to start exploring immediately, heading towards a strange machine to be fueled with fuel, which once started will be able to make us travel in the game map.
The first destination will be a strange and imposing structure guarded by some armed guards, which will serve to introduce the concept of stealth within Expedition Zero, along with what perhaps ultimately could be the most harmless enemies that we will find ourselves facing. After the stealth phase, she will interact with one of the few NPCs that can be consulted in the game, a shopkeeper who will from then on provide radio coordinates for collect data, all aimed at the uninterrupted exploration of the anomalous zone. During the second journey, entering the first new area, you will notice how it is excluding the possibility of rapid travelif not in some very specific main points.
Collecting everything that comes within range in abandoned houses and military tents, you will find useful resources such as medicines, ammunition, weapons, but also junk and tools convertible into raw materials, which will then be used to build new equipment. In short, being an engineer is a perfect excuse to introduce crafting, which will lead us to use machines similar to 3D printers capable of manufacturing and breaking down objects. They will be placed in different locations, and within them will frequently be found new projects to build very useful tools for survival, such as expansions for the inventory, proximity scanners, more durable batteries for the flashlight, heat suits and much more.
Not a drop of vodka – Expedition Zero review
Since the review is about a survival horror, it is necessary to delve more deeply the characteristics of survival in Expedition Zero. The game does not have a chance to change the difficulty, and the odds of surviving will mostly hinge on ability to manage resources that the player possesses, who will have to move always checking the values of body heat, health and the remaining battery. In addition to the constantly freezing temperatures, there will also be occasional snowstorms that they can drastically reduce resistance to coldand to avoid death by frostbite it will be imperative to find some wood logs to be placed in stoves, ovens, radiators and bins in order to be able to heat up.
At the same time, the flashlight will be the only constant light source that you can have, and for this reason its battery will have to be recharged at the charging stations also located in some places on the map. And if nature does not already give enough cats to peel, they will also think about it in addition to it monstrous creatures who sneak into the darkness of the forest. In fact, it will swarm with black threats with a poorly defined appearance, unpredictable in their movements but capable of killing us in a few moments; they will manifest their presence with creepy verses, then going to cause some strange “Interference”In the view as they get closer.
Perhaps this brings to mind a certain rather well-known horror figure on the web (slenderman), and indeed there are some similarities: even if these creatures will not have excessively long limbs, they will be able to capture the player. stretching what appears to be a lethal tongue, hanging it in the air for a moment. If you run away, they will run after the player by jumping through the trees, and the only way to get rid of them will almost always be groped to hit them with rifle shots.
We say “groped” because, although these enemies are capable of instilling further paranoia and anxiety that perhaps could lead us to want to make a strategic retreat, very often what will prevent them from being eliminated will be the impossibility of being able to locate them in the dark. In addition to this, the game will also make its contribution: during the game it can happen sometimes to be attacked through buildings despite the entities being outside, thus seeing their tongues literally pierce the walls and ceilings.
Black and White – Expedition Zero Review
You will be able to immediately become familiar with the game controls of Expedition Zero, and for this review the title was played only using the controls on the PC, since the connection with the controller seemed to give many problems, automatically reversing the view and the direction in which we were walking, and not detecting well several keys. A factor that you will learn at the beginning is that yes, there is an adaptation in Italian, but it is rather approximate: some texts and the main menu options have been translated, but it will not be uncommon come across exclusively English writings.
Seeing the requirements set up on the game’s Steam page, extremely powerful machines did not seem to be necessary, but this will not exclude situations in which the fluidity of the game will drop dramatically. As for the graphics, we are at a much lower level than what one would expect from a new generation title, even if there were no eye-popping visual promises to that effect.
Nevertheless, the care for the game environment is evident, capable of giving a very perceptible horror effect thanks to the combination of the omnipresent darkness with the corpse white of the Siberian ice that merges with the clusters of bare trees, which hide among their branches the most unknown, frightening and terrifying entities. Another element that participates in these feelings of fear is the sound sector, which does not boast of variety but is still capable of appropriately accompanying various situations.
A cold shower
The launch of a game like Expedition Zero had gone quietly in a month full of major titles, despite having received a demo just a few weeks earlier. We did not have the opportunity to observe the title in its test phase, and it is therefore difficult to say in our review how Expedition Zero has been changed compared to the still unofficial version. In any case, however much the initial premises given by the story, the setting and the atmosphere of the game are at first sight intriguing, there are still too many things that need significant improvement to be able to give a sufficiently good gaming experience.
By highlighting a style that largely harks back to that of the most well-known Soviet post-apocalyptic games, mixing it with a mysterious and still under-exploited setting, Expedition Zero introduces a world capable of engulfing the player in a sphere of terror and anxiety. However, at the same time it is violated by a constant frustration, given by the interaction …