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Usually, when you hear something is made by one person you think “This is going to be some pixelated crap or a crappy side-scrolilng platformer”, but then, when you click the play button on the video embedded in this article and eat your words the way Mike Tyson eats ears, it becomes a humbling experience.
Survived is an indie project designed on Crytek's CryEngine 3 SDK, which enables developers to use CryEngine assets and design tools to create awesome projects like Survived, without laying down any money.
The crazy part about Survived is that it embodies all the typical AAA cinematic qualities that usually is claimed by publishers to cost tens of millions of dollars... yet, here is a talented guy who managed to get the same sort of high quality, cinematic survival experience without all the wasteful spending.
Basically, the game seems to take on a World War Z feel where players are thrust into a survival situation when an evacuation goes terribly wrong. The beginning of the game starts off simple enough, with the player walking through a line of individuals heading toward the evacuation copter, but things quickly turn sour while the helicopter flies through the city.
A zombie leaps out from one of the buildings and knocks the helicopter out of its aerial trajectory, sending it into a tailspin that eventually leads to a crash. I'm not sure why, but one of the hazmat guys comes over and kicks the player's teeth in.
The game starts once the player wakes up and finds out that they're in a rundown, nearly post-apocalyptic looking city environment as they attempt to find safety.
WarSpirit UK does a good job of pretending to be horribly scared like a noob who just pissed his pants... unless of course, he wasn't acting, in which case he was a scared noob who had already pissed his pants.
The environments are designed with extreme precision and there's all the standard sorts of high-poly trash cans and debris. But the thing that really sets this apart from a ton of other indie and AAA titles is how atmospheric it is. Wow is it atmospheric.
The play-style and presentation seems terribly reminiscent of horror titles during the PSX era, where they knew they couldn't readily rely on the technology to tell the story so they had to focus on creating a certain kind of atmosphere and look to give players a feeling of horror and despair.
While there are some obvious manufactured scare moments throughout the play-through, they are done extremely well. Some of the cinematic effects are also just mind-blowing... I mean, dang. That chopper crash near the end of the play-through where it crashes into the building just in front of the player is stunning.
Massive props to the designers for bringing this horror spectacle to life and finally making zombies scary again.
You can grab the mod from the official Crytek forum download page. It looks like Epic is getting some serious competition for their UDK platform from CryEngine designers.