Get that mouse cursor away from the close tab button this instant. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes and grunting at the mention of A) another zombie survival game and B) another Kickstarter project, but ROAM looks more promising than most games sporting those two descriptors. For one thing the initial prototype showcased on the game’s Kickstarter page looks pretty damn sodding well cor-blimey impressive, particularly given it was put together in only six weeks by a two-person team. Secondly they’re only asking for $40,000, which is peanuts compared to the £1.2 million David Braben wanted – and got – for promising us a morsel of reheated nostalgia with Elite: Dangerous. Lastly ROAM appears to be about more than just shooting zombies with a copious arsenal of easily obtained weapons, emphasising the whole “survival” side of things commonly neglected in many so-called survival horror games.
The gist of ROAM is pretty simple. You and up to three co-op buddies roam around a “grim, ravaged world” scavenging the bare essentials like food, water, tools and weapons, meeting other survivors and befriending or killing them. Or, alternatively, training them up into a ragtag zombie-killing militia to enact your brutal will as a post-apocalyptic warlord like Lord Humungous in Mad Max. According to ROAM’s developers you can equip your potential NPC pleb-brigade with weapons, build relationships with them and even give them tasks to perform. Unfortunately they might also decide to abandon you to the wilderness or defect to other bands of plucky survivors if they feel you’re not pulling your weight. The ungrateful curs.
Because humans are always the real monsters in any zombie apocalypse you’ll also have to deal with gangs of bandits that set up patrols, build their own camps and try to take what you’ve worked so hard to secure. Speaking of camps you’ll be able to design and build your own ostensibly zombie-proof fortification with ROAM’s base-building system. If building a stockade from scratch sounds too much like hard work you can instead choose to fortify pre-existing structures in the game world, slapping boards up over windows and plonking sandbags down in front of doors to protect your stockpile of supplies. I’d choose a boat personally but there’s no word yet on whether that’ll be an option.
While all this is going on the zombie hive-mind will be mutating and evolving, producing new and more deadly specimens to test your defences. This means plenty of opportunities for hair-raising combat for people who can’t live without that sort of thing in their grim survival games, though the developers say you’ll also be able to take the sort of stealthy approach that’s more my cup of boiled river water. For combat players being able to sprint about town shooting off zombies’ kneecaps to slow them to a crawl or taking them out efficiently (i.e. properly) with well-placed headshots.
While the Kickstarter video emphasises shooty-shooty bang-bang action and crafty base building, I’m most interested in ROAM’s supposed focus on actual bread-and-water survival. One of my favourite parts of Lone Survivor was doing what I could to survive whilst also trying to squeeze in some sort of domestic routine to keep the protagonist sane (the same also applies to what I’ve played of Project Zomboid). Though I doubt ROAM will go to quite those lengths I’m intrigued enough by the premise and its goal of providing something for everyone to pay attention: NPC interaction for RPG enthusiasts, base-management and stategy for RTS fans, fast combat for MOBA/Lords Management/Action RTS buffs, and crafting for anyone who’s spent more than an hour in Minecraft.
If ROAM’s developers can also squeeze in some sweet visual customisation options for my character then I’ll be a very happy post-apocalypse survivor indeed.