Expedition Zero is a freaky trek through the bitter cold, and there’s a Steam beta right now

Expedition Zero key art

Survival horror in the Siberian wilderness

Enigmatic Machines and TinyBuild are hosting a beta for their Siberian survival-horror adventure Expedition Zero, and it’s worth a look, whether that means firing up Steam or just taking a moment to watch the trailer. This game is already creeping me out.

In the abandoned (but not actually abandoned enough) “heart of rural Siberia,” a meteorite has “turned the endless taiga forest into a zone of terror.”

As the creators put it, you’ll need to “confront flesh-eating creatures and survive the extreme environment as the last survivor of a Soviet scientific expedition.”

With that story setup in mind, and paranoia-inducing snowstorms rolling in at night to keep visibility low enough to fit a survival horror premise, I was on edge. After messing around with my high-tech sled but not having any components to craft with it yet, I started to get anxious, so I ducked into a few buildings for scraps and a chance to build up some body heat, before ultimately finding a way to lower myself into an underground lab.

It was dark down there! Super dark. If you’re playing with a mouse and keyboard, click in your scroll wheel (by default) to flip on your headlight. In the laboratory, I saw a few dead things, and heard something that clearly wasn’t. In the end, it got me good.

Here are a few as-non-spoilery-as-possible screenshots of Expedition Zero from my short playthrough, which, umm, did not end particularly well for me. The vibe is strong.

Warming up next to a stove in Expedition Zero

If and when you get caught by the roaming creature, you’ll be strung up, with an opportunity to escape. That said, both times that happened to me (once on each attempt), my survivor was either too injured or too cold to stand a chance of lasting much longer.

Also, at one point, I tossed a flare and burned myself with it. Don’t be like me!

The concept behind Expedition Zero is cool, particularly the “science station” sled and the snowy middle-of-nowhere setting. I just need more convincing to want to stick with a longer, more fleshed-out version of this game. As a beta, it’s now got a foot in the door.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend playing the beta unless you’re a survival horror fan who’s very okay with some graphical roughness, mechanical clumsiness, and at times vague objectives, but I will say, the relative lack of polish almost makes the game more unsettling. I felt like anything could happen at any moment, and when I was out there plodding through the snow with crunchy footsteps in the dark, my imagination ran wild.

For everyone else, I’d keep an eye on Expedition Zero and see how it develops from here.

Jordan Devore
Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and poster of seemingly random pictures. They are anything but random.