We’ve all asked the question of how long we would survive if we suddenly woke up in a zombie apocalypse, right? HumanitZ appears to have been devised and crafted with this question at its core. Would you remember to gather rain water for your thirst, and would you be willing to scour dozens of houses or cars to find nails to build things.
HumanitZ is an isometric perspective survival game. Following a global zombie outbreak, your created character will be one of the last remaining free-thinkers still scrabbling to survive. Crafting, hunting, fishing, combat and exploration across a large, open-world map are all present and accounted for. Bewilderingly, the game is still only in Early Access, despite the depth of all these mechanics already on offer.
Is it worth gearing up to keep your flesh protected from the undead, or is it preferable to succumb to the virus?
Getting Some Zees
As per the usual for zombie-themed media, these brain-consuming creatures are called “Zeeks” instead of zombies. Booting up the game, you’ll be able to select a specialisation for your character and choose from a small handful of personalisation options. Then comes the important part – tuning the difficulty of this broken down world.
HumanitZ allows you to increase or decrease the ante significantly. You can double, triple or quintuple the number of Zeeks that spawn (destroying both your survival chances and your FPS!). Available loot can be made abundant or scarce and you can even turn on perma-death if you truly hate your sanity. Even selecting a spawn point will have ramifications for how tough an entry you’ll have to survive.
There’s a lot to get through when you first open the game, including a fairly chunky tutorial and a word-heavy survival guide. It can be overwhelming, particularly as the game explains core mechanics, but only on a basic “how to” level. It won’t teach you much of actually surviving a day in this world. As such, some people will revel in the immersion, while others may cower at the depth of it all.
Due to how much there is to learn, it can be a slow and sluggish start to really get into HumanitZ. Getting a base-camp established which can meet your basic needs of survival takes a good few hours, especially if you’re unlucky with component drops. Stick with it however, and like many immersive survival games, you’ll find there’s a lot to appreciate and love about the game.
Make A House A Base
In order to survive in HumanitZ, you’re going to need to scavenge resources and build. A crafting bench will be your greatest asset and setting up farming will sustain your existence for the long haul. There are a multitude of build options available from off, allowing you to erect all manner of defensive structures, utility crafts and traps.
The system itself can be clunky, owing to the layers of menus that pop up and how you deposit resources into a structure. However, once you get the hang of things and practice, you’ll be throwing up makeshift fortresses The Governor would be proud of. Everything requires resources to build, so a lot of time in HumanitZ is spent exploring nearby areas, hoovering components and treking back.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that your first few hours in any given game are your most important. The first time I booted up, I made little effort to establish a base, only to be bemused when I stumbled into a faction of gun-totting survivors who, for want of a better phrase, wrecked my shit. In my second run, I actually took the time to set up a workbench, water collectors, basic farming and I harvested weapons, ammo and resources.
The difference was massive – now I could actually venture out, equipped and safe in the knowledge I had a steady supply of food and water. It makes the first few hours slightly dull, because you’re a glorified workhorse. Once you’re passed this however, the game’s options open up significantly, as you can, for example, get a car running to make exploration faster.
Humanity Is The Real Enemy
The thing is, HumanitZ doesn’t necessitate that you play this way. You can be a lone wanderer type, moving from settlement to settlement, avoiding contested areas and looting food and water to survive. You’ll endlessly struggle, but you can. That’s the game’s biggest attribute – there are a wealth of survivalist systems, but you can entirely forgo them if you wish. There’s a genuine sense of choice and playstyle.
Across the landscape will be various pockets of other survivors, most of whom have a hankering for plugging you with bullet holes. As you might have also guessed, there are Zeeks, a lot of them. There’s a strong sense of atmosphere like The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later, as Zeeks can swarm quickly and other survivors can snuff you out faster than a zombie snapping up flesh.
Even on easy difficulty, it can be all too common to get overwhelmed if you’re careless. It creates an ominous atmosphere and makes your decisions more meaningful if you want to make it to the next day. The combat itself isn’t the best, nor the most intuitive, as the aiming can feel off at times, but options of stealth, melee, ranged and straight up running are engaging.
There are a wealth of weapons you can acquire in your searches. Shotguns, pistols, rifles, bows and crossbows will make up most of your repertoire and they all serve particular functions. I personally found the bow and crossbow to be the best options, as they’re silent, deadly and their ammo can be recovered. Bullets are scarce and take up precious inventory space, adding another tactical decision to make.
Meek Zeek Mindset
As I mentioned earlier, combat and killing Zeeks is just one element of the overall experience of HumanitZ. Your task is simply to survive as long as possible. The layers of options towards hunting, fishing and exploration become just as enjoyable as time progresses, opening so many options to play around with.
Defeating enemies earns you XP and allows you to level up. Skill points can then be invested in improving your skills, unlocking new abilities like lockpicking and making your survival abilities passively stronger. It’s nice to see a level up system provide tangible new skills that aid your survival, as opposed to just being percentage buffs alone.
Over time, you’ll notice that hours upon hours of time will simply disintegrate before you. One more town to explore, one more farming cycle to finish, one more horde of Zeeks to clear out. For people who enjoy the survival genre, HumanitZ has almost everything you could for in a single package. It reminded me of playing Green Hell, where the initial learning curve blockade gives way to a fascinating, engaging series of mechanics in a large playground map.
Then there’s co-op, where you can take your survival skills into a shared map with up to three other players. The community is already thriving so you can jump into worlds and overcome the Zeek hordes together. If you have a like-minded squad of buddies, there’s almost endless fun to be had scavenging, pillaging, building and eradicating together.
Humanity’s Survivalism Prevails
There are some rough edges, as you might expect, that HumanitZ will hopefully iron out over the course of its Early Access period. As mentioned before, the aiming system can occasionally go haywire, which can be bothersome. The inventory system and how you equip or store items also caused me a fair bit of frustration, as there are numerous underlying “rules” the game doesn’t inform you of initially.
I didn’t have many issues with performance or visuals virtually at all, which was a real surprise. The odd framerate drop and the game locking up when quitting to the menu aside, HumanitZ is already very stable and reliable. Building design can repeat quite a lot, but the landscapes themselves have some nice variety to appreciate, especially for such a large map to explore.
Yet, many of these issues pale in comparison to the scope of what YoDubzz Studios have managed to achieve. This is a huge game, with a massive underlayer of mechanics to uncover, skills to master and challenges to overcome. Survival in this world isn’t easy, it’s fought for and earned through knowledge and experience.
The best of zombie fiction captures that feeling of just-about survival perfectly and HumanitZ nestles smoothly into this atmosphere. A cruel world filled with threats which is also brimming with possibility and overflowing with opportunity. Throw in coop, scope for further content additions and a passionate community who have already taken to it with aplomb, and you have a Zeek virus that will only continue to spread and expand.
HumanitZ, even in its Early Access phase, has already delivered a host of challenging, engaging and rewarding survival mechanics in a hostile world brimming with opportunities. Your initial hours with the game may be a grind, but persist through the sluggish opening and you’ll be hard-pressed to tear yourself away from this post-apocalyptic playground.
HumanitZ is available now on PC via Early Access (review platform).
Developer: YoDubzz Studios
Publisher: Freedom Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.