The cries of the undead horde are a common sight in video games today. We've faced them alone in close quarters in small towns, we've practised genocide against them in malls, and most recently for me, I've worked together with friends to massacre them and preserve the life of a garden gnome. Recently though I found a game that takes a different approach than any other zombie game I've played. Die2Nite is a co-op game that enforces cooperation like nothing else, provides a great sense of impending doom, and you should really play it
The outline of the game is that you and a few dozen others are stuck in a town and every night at midnight, a horde of zombies will bombard your town, with each subsequent night having more of the stiff seditionists at your door step. Your one and only goal of the game is to survive. Naturally, survival won't come by you sitting around. This means that the residents of your town have to erect various defences. Of course, such constructs don't make themselves. The majority of your day will be spent collecting resources in the wastes, then using those resources to fashion these cadaver killing mechanisms (I'm partial to the rustic devices of “The Great Pit”).
Now, before I go on to discuss the wondrous things that can happen in the game, I have to confess that I've been hiding something from you. The reason I haven't posted any screenshots is because Die2Nite is a game played through menus, forums, and a real time clock. This may turn some people off instantly, and yes, I would love to see the mechanics of the game implemented into something a little more interactive, but the game still manages to create some unique experiences.
Yes, this is how the majority of the game will be spent, but believe me, it's worth it.
The biggest draw of Die2Nite for me has been the interaction it creates between people. To survive past the first day it is a must for players to work together by discussing things in the forums. If buildings projects aren't agreed upon, a town will suddenly have several enterprises underway, and none of them being the crucial workshop the town so desperately needs to survive. If a town doesn't come to a consensus in the forums on what to upgrade, a community may end up with better knowledge of the zombies that will be out in the wastes tomorrow, but find themselves overwhelmed that night. And maybe most common of all, the forums provide a place to cry for help. Until certain improvements are put in place, wandering the wastes is an uncharted affair. You'll venture from location to location, completely blind as to what may walk into next. This leads to many encounters involving you and a hoard of zombies. The members of your dilapidated town then become your only means of escape as having more humans in a location sways the balance of power, allowing you to leave such horrific circumstances. Now these instances of cooperation are all exciting, and what one we'll see most in the game, but Die2Nite also provides players the opportunity to be an absolute ass, and it is this that creates some of the most unique moments I've seen in the game.
See, in Die2Nite each town has a bank. This is the place where the items for construction projects, extra rations, and your arsenal of weapons are stored. Because these are all community projects, the bank is open to all. You can put anything you want in, and also take anything out. Want to explore the world for decoration items for your house? Take all the food and the best weapons. Want to turn your house into a castle? Steal all the building materials for yourself. And hey, if the bank doesn't have what you're looking for, maybe your neighbour does. You have a 50% chance of getting caught, but that also means you have a 50% chance of not getting caught. Now, normally this would be a shameful thing for a developer to add as it just empowers griefers. However, the community isn't without it's own armaments against such delinquents.
The first step the town can take against them is shunning them. This means that the citizen no longer has access to the bank, can't participate in the town projects, and can't open or close the gate. They do get a few new abilities, but they really don't outweigh the sense of detachment from the group. But, lets say they persist. They keep stealing stuff, they spam the message boards, and prove to be a general nuisance. Well, then the town can just simply construct a set of gallows and kill that player, removing them from the town forever.
And even crazier, if enough shunned citizens gather together, they can perform an insurrection and reverse the political state of the town, making the rebels in the right, and shunning the rest of the town. Okay, but enough about cooperation and disputes.
This means you all worked well together.
As I said earlier, each day will bring more and more zombies into the realm. Between twenty and thirty seems to be the norm for the first day, but such innocuous numbers don't last long. The increase is there to keep players working together and maintain challenge. Now every game features challenge, but the sometimes rapid increase can fabricate some fervent moments in the game. A good example of this happened to me early on. We had gotten to day four and over the last three days, attacks had grown by around thirty each day. We expected the same, so focused on more domestic issues. However, two hours before the attack, we realized that tonight’s hoard was three times larger than we expected. The majority of us had done other tasks during the day and were incapable of preparing for the attack. Still, for the next couple hours the forums were ablaze as we tried to figure out a way for even a few of us to survive. The group was frantic, and to see us all rattling our brains for a solution was great. Normally I expect such emotions to only occur in an intense shooter or maybe a close game of Starcraft, but there it was, flourishing in plain old text. Of course nothing came, and in the morning, we all received the achievement “Grandma, what big teeth you have.”
I've been playing for a while and so far have really enjoyed myself. The only major complaint I can raise against the game is the reincarnation system. Every time you die, you reincarnate into a random town. The lack of penalty that the system provides to get back into the action is nice, but it means that you are forced to set up some sort of coherence among everyone all over again, you have to repost a new player guide, and learn who you can trust out of these mysterious strangers. Sure, the more you play the easier it is to know what to do, but with it, it becomes far more common to distance yourself from the group, only communicating pivotal information. Long gone will be your “What are you listening too?” thread and your inside jokes, instead replaced by the refined cold thinking of experience...
But hey, don't let that dissuade you, give Die2Nite a chance