There’s a new zombie survival game on Steam, which normally isn’t cause for a stir. However, Romero’s Aftermath is a little different for a few reasons. First it’s got a Romero involved (George Cameron Romero, son of George A Romero of all those ‘of the Dead’ films). Secondly, it’s the spiritual successor to The War Z, a game not very many people liked at all.
Aftermath is free-to-play, and its open beta is playable right now. “Romero’s Aftermath costs nothing to download and play, and the only purchasable items are cosmetic skins, customisations and boosts that allow players to acquire certain in-game items more quickly,” says a new post from developer Free Reign on Steam. “Every item can be acquired during play by exploring, looting, trading or defeating other survivalists.”
If you take a look at the game, it looks very similar to The War Z (which became Infestation: Survival Stories due to trademark problems). Free Reign are calling Aftermath a spiritual successor to Infestation. The involvement of the same development team though has seen the Steam reviews go wild with anger, leading to a ‘Mostly Negative’ result and scathing criticism from players. Lots of people of very unhappy in those parts.
I had a short hands-on session with the game last week. I’ve not played The War Z/Infestation, so cannot compare how Aftermath holds up against them, but what I played felt exceptionally similar to most other survival game out there. Thanks to being able to build defences and shacks, it’s probably closer to Rust in its actual gameplay beats, but takes most of its visual cues from the likes of DayZ and 7 Days to Die. The developers note that the gameplay is more arcadey than traditional survival games, and what I played supported that argument, although it didn’t seem to make that much difference. It was still mostly searching through trash for food to eat. There is emphasis on crafting though, and you can create a garden to grow crops at your home base.
The free-to-play side really comes out in a cosmetic element that allows you to put skins on your guns, and it feels like it’s been heavily influenced by Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Personally, I’m not sure if survival players are that bothered about painting their machineguns blue, but I suppose that remains to be seen.