Title: Generation Zero
Version Tested: Xbox One
Available On: Xbox One, PS4, and Steam
Developer: Avalanche Publishing
Publisher: THQ Nordic, Avalanche Publishing
Genre: Action and Adventure
Official Site: https://generationzero.com/en
Release Date: March 26th, 2019
Where To Buy: Microsoft Store, PSN, or Steam
Survival Horror games usually have one thing in common; fight to survive. In some cases, there are sub qualities added to intensify gameplay. The game could feature having to eat, sleep, use of fatigue, or constructing ammo and other items. None of these elements of Generation Zero actually applied and yet the title wanted the player to feel as if they were alone, on a series of islands, combating for their life.
Generation Zero doesn’t have a story but more like a setting. The year was somewhere in the 1980’s and located on a multiple islands in Sweden. You, the player, are riding in a boat with other fellow classmates from a field trip and have no idea of what was going on around the world. When the boat was struck by a missile your character was thrown into the water and ended up on a shore of one of those islands. Scavenging the land, the player realized that he/she isn’t alone as mechanical robots are roaming around – shooting any living being on sight.
Before the game began, you are forced to create a character in the highly immersive character customization option. Actually, that was a joke. The character creation was very basic considering the type of games that are out now (Fallout, Skyrim, etc.) and can only choose a limited selection of presets. Also, multiple files and characters could be made on the same profile but doesn’t necessarily mean a new game. When creating a new save with a different player the character would just continue where the original file left off. That defeated the whole purpose of having other files on one account. The game would start once he/she player was made and would spawn on the shore line with nothing. Checking the map was often the best bet to find out exactly the location of the character and where to advance toward next.
The map was vast and had around 4 or 5 islands to explore. All of them were connected by bridges. The first area the player would start was at the bottom right of the screen on the shore line. Nothing was able to be highlighted except for the area the player would start in and that was considered a safe house. As the player progressed through the game other towns or country housing could be discovered as safe houses. This enabled fast travel and mission tracking for the player. Also, if the character were to die they could chose a safe house that had been discovered.
The gameplay of Generation Zero was dull. From what the trailer showed, you were going to be fighting gigantic mechs with other online friends. Not the case here. Once the game began you were searching houses and garages for anything to combated. Cars flashing on the side of the road or crates and satchels with supplies that could be looted. Then, you would encounter your first actual robot and it was…. a dog. Yes, an agile, mech dog with machine guns attached to their backs- and they usually roam in packs.
There are two issues with this and those are the AI of these pups don’t actually work as a team and they can’t enter houses or churches. At this point, the horror feeling kinda goes out the window and hiding in places the dogs can’t reach became very repetitive. Also, You would be fighting these dogs for about two islands. The first time the player would see a gigantic mech wouldn’t be until 4 or 5 hours into the game. Why not swim to the other islands? Another fault in the survival aspect of Generation Zero – you can’t swim. Your character would sink like a rock and re-spawn back to land. This would even apply to shallow waters as if your character was a robot itself.
When encountering a giant robot they’re actually near impossible to kill – at least doing it solo. Depending on the difficulty level these mechs would attack you and deal loads of damage. Not to mention calling other robot dogs or other evil things to help aid in the fight. The AI radius for noticing your presence can be frustrating as well. When sprinting with your character he/she would pant and the noise of the character’s heavy breathing could alert anything around the area. Crouching, however, would hopefully allow the player to stealth past most of the mechanical creatures, but doesn’t . Only the skill system can debunk that flaw and that goes hand-in-hand with the leveling system.
Leveling in Generation Zero was a blessing because not only did the character level up from an overall fight but as well as from losing one. The leveling process was no walk in the park but the idea of failure could also lead toward a more rewarding success. Advancing through the ranks was also obtainable through discovering new locations or finding all the loot in certain areas. Another fault was exploring certain buildings because most of the structures looked the same and often could be mistaken for an already searched area. What also didn’t help was some of the buildings couldn’t even be entered and were just there for aesthetics. Lock picking from old hair pins didn’t apply to these doors and would be a major bummer for anyone traveling far expecting some hidden loot.
Graphically, Generation Zero had minor bugs and poor lighting or designing issues. During the day these flaws can’t be seen but during the night everything would be illuminated. The most noticeable one was the foliage flickering when lights were flashed on them. From a further distance, the moon or giant robots shining light onto the trees would also create a graphical spasm of flickered pixels. Apart from the lighting issues, bugs can be found throughout the game. When enemies attacked you then could shoot you through the walls. Rocks and other objects could be seen floating four feet above the ground.
The sound effects were exceptional and one of the few saving aspects of the game. The robots actually sounded scary. Roaming around a ghost town and suddenly hearing the screeching banshee of crackling metal would have anyone picking a place to hide. The gun effects were rewarding as well and listening to the shotgun tear through the scraps of metal at every pump. The soundtrack was also well done by adding a eerie, synthetic sound – almost resembling the theme song of Stranger Things.
Verdict: Generation Zero had some good ideas but most of them were poorly executed. For trying to tap into the survival horror genre by replicating a Black Mirror episode would have been quite impressive. Although with the lack of character creations, unable to create new saves, stuck fighting for 4 or 5 hours, and graphical bugs might want people waiting for a Steam sale or Microsoft store deal. That or by having more friends to play with.
- Online Co-op up to 4 players
- Set in the 1980's with a European synth soundtrack
- Vast, open world to explore
- Leveling system with skill tree
- Sound effects are top-notch
- Graphical bugs
- Limited character creation
- Only one save
- Singleplayer can be boring and repetitive
- Can't swim
- AI are quite dumb
George has a backlog of over 1000 computer games but never has time to play them all. Other hobbies George does with his spare time include puzzles, playing guitar, reading, sing karaoke, and writing short stories. Also, he’s a full-time baker/Pastry Chef.