Those of you who know me personally will know that I am a big fan of the “Zombie” genre. Those of you who don’t know me personally are now aware of this fact (lucky you). Romero movies, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Dead Rising (see me previous article on the movie tie-in “Watchtower” here)
On top of the above, if you have been following my articles, you will also know that I am a big fan of tabletop roleplaying games. So, you can imagine my delight when I was given an advance copy of upcoming Kickstarter project “Infected!” to review.
You’ll notice in my opening I used quotation marks for the term Zombie, because not everything that falls into this category is the dead rising once more to walk the earth; some franchises (such as 28 Days Later for example) are not shambling corpses, but infected. You may have also noticed that this is the title of this game. That’s right, these are not your traditional zed heads. Much like video game cousins Resident Evil and Left 4 Dead, Infected! is set in a world where a “super flu” has caused the majority of the population to become wild, feral and most of all, aggressive.
This game, however, is set after the outbreak; after the world has started to calm down. A cure has in fact been developed, so long as it is administered soon enough, so now it falls to the players to survive and set about rebuilding society and humanity. Along the way they must face off against wild animals, outlaw gangs fighting for territory and supplies and yes, the remaining pockets of Infected, in all shapes and sizes. That’s right, this game, much like the aforementioned Left 4 Dead and deservedly successful The Last of Us, Infected! has different subtypes of Infected – from your standard Runner to the cunning, pack leading Alphas, right through to my personal favourite, the Mimic (Played Left 4 Dead? Remember Witches? Those.)
I recently made my weekly playgroup go out into the wilderness and try to survive against the odds. I ran them through a stripped down version of the character creation for this game, which in of itself is quite a well thought out structure, following a “point buy” system, but applying limitations and caps based on what level of experience the game is being run at. However, there seem to be several overlooked points within this creation system, such as the “Circumstances” (aspects of your character’s lifestyle and how they affect the game) not being explained particularly in much detail from a mechanics perspective and the Advantages/Disadvantages list seems to have been completely missed from the sample rules I had to work with.
Issues aside, we had characters, we had chosen our setting (My group decided they wanted the game to be set in Tokyo. This did not stop the NPCs from having hammy, midwest US accents.) we set about playing the game.
The general overall game mechanic used operates on establishing a total number of successes. This is done by rolling two ten sided dice (D10s), one for your corresponding attribute and one for your corresponding skill. You add your roll to your statistic and for each roll you score a “success” for every point over ten that you achieve. Once this total has been added together and any/all modifiers have been applied, you are left with your total number of successes. This system appealed to me as it felt like a stripped down, simplified version of the old World of Darkness tabletop games, of which I am very familiar and fond of.
My group, bless them, are usually very good at considering party balance and roles, but somehow not a single one of them had taken the time to consider that in a survival game, they would encounter much, if any, combat. As such, none of them took any form of weapon skills and only one member had ranks in brawling. This led to a number of encounters being talked through instead of a gung-ho, guns blazing approach, which made for a very interesting session to GM (Or, “Narrate” as it is in this game) but sadly, unless faced with an Alpha, there’s not much point in trying to reason with the swathes of Infected hordes which led to much fleeing in the group’s trusty Prius.
In short, Infected! proved to be a refreshing look at the post apocalyptic survival genre, reminiscent of I Am Legend with its scope of isolation and scavenge-to-live mentality. The mechanics work and, despite the missing information from my advanced copy, we as a group were still able to get a good game going. Plus I am assured by the game’s developers that this advanced copy of the rules is still unfinished and will be of a much higher caliber upon completion.
Infected! has been successfully funded on Kickstarter and will no doubt be appearing on our shelves in the very near future. If you love the “Zombie” genre and are looking for something with a bit more depth and plot complexity than your standard shotgun-fest games then I would highly recommend you keep an eye out for this one.
In the meantime, I have been and, unless I get infected myself, I shall remain, Craig.
You can check out INFECTED’s Kickstarter page HERE