Expedition Zero (Finish Your Chores Survival Horror)


Here I go again with a survival horror review, am I going to say it? Yes. The genre usually relies on story. In many cases it’s more like playing a book than a game, because the player is left to click on obvious items while following a force-fed path as the plot unfolds. I don’t mind that at all, the issue is that most titles of this type are lacking in actual gameplay because they’re so heavily focused on telling a tale. Expedition Zero is largely the opposite of that, more weighted in the gameplay, surprisingly. It’s received a fair amount of hate, some of which is warranted, but I’ll get to that. As an unknown researcher of somethingrather you set out in some frozen wastes in the northern portion of Russia to solve the mystery of failed experiments, missing children, dismembered bodies, and all of that usual stuff. As expected, monsters appear at inopportune moments, slowing your progress, as you try to just survive goddamn it. But considering it has the usual and some differences, what does it get wrong?


In order to survive you need to focus on four primary mechanics: your health (not as important but present), your stamina (more irritating than important), your body heat (extremely important), and your battery’s power level (super, incredibly, irritatingly important). These features require a constant testing of distance at first, and the only way to improve is by gathering resources to upgrade your gear. Sometimes you’ll find discarded tins in trash cans, PCBs in abandoned houses, screws in tents, etc. With your resources (polymer, electro, and metal) you can outfit new shelters, repair charging stations, and repair furnaces to extend your range and solve the mystery more efficiently while eliminating “infections” (some sort of quasi-Lovecraft biomutant shit). As you progress, new areas open to explore, testing your limits further. The atmosphere is absolutely incredible, with oppressive, disorienting weather, which makes your uncertainly navigating dark forests increase. When you realize you’re out of power and far from a charge point or safe haven this sets a terrifying mood. The shadow monster in particular, with its unclear goals and movements, makes for a great scare. However, as many have stated, there are still a share of game-breaking bugs even after updates. Spawning into the floor when you fast travel with your sled, dopey-looking zombies hovering like some crucified Christ as they miraculously float over terrain, items missing from your person after a save, disappearing bodies after a kill, all of these issues dampen what could be a great title. In its current state Expedition Zero offers a well-written, though typical story, and play more detailed than the usual survival horror sludge, though almost to a fault. After you get a feel for it, the requirements of survival are mostly annoying, creating an irritating sense of “did you finish your chores kiddo?” instead of proper tension. The devs thus far have been incredibly receptive to feedback, so hopefully with some tweaks an even better version is in the near future. For now, I’d say consider it as a fun, though faulty title, or wait for better days ahead, should they arrive.


Expedition Zero Official Steam

Written by Stanley, Devourer of Souls

Expedition Zero
Enigmatic Machines (developer), tinyBuild (publisher)
3.8 / 5