Game Preview: Lifeless on Early Access (PC)

Lifeless, in development by Rigid-Soft, is a massive multiplayer online survival game set in fictional Stillwater Bay years after a zombie infection has wreaked havoc. Expansive environments and aggressive zombies offer a good foundation for this open world survival game that’s available for Early Access on Steam June 14.

Story and Atmosphere

Stillwater has become a haunting, derelict town. Wandering through the towns and abandoned farms Lifeless paints a bleak picture of the decay long after the “infection”.  Homes are falling apart and vehicles burned out. As you explore the hills and coasts, however you will also find a serene beauty in Stillwater.

Lifeless Screenshot View

The graphics on the Unreal engine will have a hard time competing with this year’s E3 showing. However, they are enough to paint beautiful vistas. Up close, some of the games textures (especially in town) are rough and highly repetitive but Lifeless looks good overall. The game’s atmosphere is most influenced by its disturbing score. The music creates an eerie feeling as you explore and builds tension effectively. Lifeless leaves the player constantly anxious as the infected lurk everywhere, move quickly, and are persistent. That anxiety is exactly what you want in a survival game.

Gameplay and Mechanics

The gameplay in Lifeless centers on survival. This does not mean survival just from the aggressive and deadly undead that lurk throughout Stillwater, but also finding supplies such as medicine, ammunition, even food and water.

Lifeless Inventory

To acquire these things you will have to venture into towns and farms, rummaging through draws and fridges to find supplies. You inventory is finite, so you will manage it smartly if you want to last any length of time. These areas are (of course) full of zombies. Zombies in this game are plentiful, perhaps even more so than in similar games of this genre such as DayZ or H1Z1. They are very aggressive and do not give up on a target until one of you is dead.

Infected humans are not the only danger in this landscape. Lifeless features two factions a player must choose between, which means you may also have other humans to compete against for supplies in these areas as well. As of right now, there is limited PvP. While factions exist and you can kill enemy players there is currently no system for looting (although it is in development).

Lifeless-Screenshot-Factions

In fact, there are a number of items on the developer’s road map. This includes an XP system, skill trees, improved animation, and new content. Rigid-Soft has taken a more flexible approach to its timeline. Rather than give precise dates for feature rollout, it suggests a timeline of between 6 to 12 months.

Lifeless-Roadmap

The foundation for this road map is fairly solid. The environment is expansive and offers a challenge, and Rigid-Soft has added many small details that make gameplay more meaningful. For instance, specific weapon stats (such as weapon reach) actually affect gameplay. Two handed weapons are ineffectual if your enemy is practically on top of you, so you need to keep those things in mind when you play.  In Early access, it’s by no means a finished product. However, they have laid out a long road and some basic elements are still only on the way. There is currently no progression at all, meaning there is little motivation to remain in Rigid-Soft’s world. This is part of Rigid-Soft’s vision however, and really should be part of the foundation they are presenting in Early Access.

It should be noted that the developers have been very quick to respond to bug reports reported by players within the Steam forums, so it is likely this road map will be rolled out within their predicted time frame.

Replay Value

Currently, Lifeless is a little bland. Even as an early release title, it is missing a number of elements to make gameplay rewarding. No XP system makes most of your actions meaningless, there is no system for keeping track of how long you have survived, and dying only wipes your non equipped inventory but restores all thirst and hunger parameters. As it currently stands, players will explore the same homes and buildings again and again, occasionally finding a meaningful weapon or item of clothing. Rigid-Soft has ambitious plans that may prove very rewarding for players.  A meaningful faction system may reduce player griefing that exists in so many survival games. Quests and skill trees are also on the road map, suggesting both are more to do within Stillwater alongside the kind of high level customization that will give players a reason to be invested.

Lifeless Screenshot Flashlight Gameplay

Conclusion

Lifeless shows plenty of potential. There is a rich, unnerving environment and an abundance of zombies to take out. The foundation of the game focusing on PvE and survival is harrowing and creates a tense atmosphere. Rigid-Soft’s world is full of meaningful detail. Their future developments with the proposed faction system and character building look promising. If executed with the same attention to detail they have put into their weapons and combat system, it will be very rewarding. Currently, even for an Early Access release, Lifeless lacks some fundamentals that will entice players to keep playing for the 6 to 12 months it will take to build in new features. Fans of the survival genre should invest with a view on the long term.

Images & Video © Rigid-Soft

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