Set in post-apocalyptic Eastern Europe, Zero Sievert is a top-down shooter inspired by games like Escape from Tarkov and stalker oriented. From the eponymous bunker base, you, as a freshly minted hunter, keep setting off into the nuclear-contaminated, fictional region of Zakov to level up, loot, complete quests and learn more about the world. In this check, I examine how much fun the game already has in the Early Access version.
|The headlamp gives off some light. The bandits have already been eliminated.|
Out of the bunker into the zone
The bunker is the lynchpin. From here you can take a train into the biomes, talk to the soldier faction or the bartender and take on orders. You sell your loot from the walks and in return haggle for ammunition or medicine, for example. Time does not stand still in Zakov and the assortment is renewed every day. Provided you have enough resources, you can expand the bunker. For example, with a kitchen to produce edible, roasted meat and other delicacies from meat and coal. Several other modules such as a place to sleep or workbenches are at the start. There are already a variety of items, from lighters to weapons to strange crystals. To keep track of what you need for quests, the items are automatically highlighted in color. And if you want to expand the base, you can also track the building materials required for the module.
At the beginning of the game, the train takes you to three biomes for free. Already the first, the forest, has it all. If you bring the necessary building materials for the track repairs to the train driver, you will unlock additional areas. Unfortunately, the travel time (loading time) is noticeable. The biomes are procedurally generated, but always have certain peculiarities. There is always a sawmill and a village in the forest. As part of an assignment, I had to find objects in the village based on the text description. When I was tasked with investigating the fate of a supply convoy, the approximate area was circled. So there is help. Two green circles on the map, which can be called up at any time, show you where you can travel back to the bunker.
|Loot, trade and bunker expansion play an important role.|
Killed in Action
If you mistakenly believe Dark Souls is a tough game, y’all Zero Sievert not played yet. Countless of my runs ended with the “Killed in Action” screen. Then the season progresses, otherwise you are as good or bad as before the failed trip. You have used items back, but of course not found ones. Your first mission: Travel to the forest and leave it healthy. Sounds easy, but it’s hard enough. Bandits, hunters, wolves, wild boars and unnatural creatures make your life difficult (after all, you can safely hunt bunnies). I ran into some anomalies too. You have to pay close attention to the ambient noise, throw screws, maybe avoid enemies, especially on the way home. You died faster than you can count to three. If you grope through the forest in the dark, your opponents will see less, but you might traipse into the middle of a pack of wolves. The two shots from the shotgun are quickly used up and you don’t even have time to reload. I found the sniper rifle good for taking out enemies from a distance. Then, when I received a shotgun as part of an assignment, I was able to fight back at close range. That’s when I felt progress for the first time.
Steam deck check
Technically, Zero Sievert runs flawlessly on the Steam deck. The texts are not scalable, but legible. The train ride takes a bit longer. I’ve tried several control layouts, but at the end of the day, Zero Sievert is designed for precise mouse control. It is not gauntlet or Diablo. I wasn’t happy with either the analog stick or the trackpad, because there’s a lack of precision when controlling with the mouse. And that is necessary. Therefore, I cannot recommend playing without a mouse and keyboard on the Steam deck.
You run with WASD and aim with the mouse. Shoot in the direction of the crosshairs. For a better hit chance you aim directly at the opponent. But watch out for the recoil! And the lines of sight. If you carelessly walk around the corner, you might look straight into a shotgun. The clever AI even tries to flank you. Sometimes you can dust off loot, for example when a hunter fell victim to wolves.
You level up skills like healing with books, others like fitness and shooting through use. Zero Sievert plays the complete, brutal keyboard of a survival game: You have to keep an eye on hunger, thirst, wounds, bleeding and radioactivity. Of course, actions like drinking and reloading take a moment. If you carry too much (who is hungry and thirsty is less resilient) you can no longer run, then you can no longer walk at all. It’s bad when two boars are chasing you. Precisely because the runs are so difficult, the thrill is great when I want to bring important loot home. The joy is all the greater when a hunt is successful. If you get too greedy, it will soon be your end!
|There are a variety of quests.|
Zero Sievert is a tough game and requires a quick mouse hand and good item management. You have to be wide awake at all times. Due to the different weapon and ammo types, you can find your own style of play. Since I fail quite often, my progression is rather slow. With better weapons, armor or even night vision goggles you improve your prospects. The development of Zero Sievert is not over yet, for example the keybinding is to be revised, new enemies and radioactive rain are coming. But there is already a lot to discover! In addition, Zero Sievert is a gripping, intense and complex survival top-down shooter that will demand everything from you and, if you persevere, will reward you with thrills and great (successful) experiences.
- Top-down survival action
- single player
- For die-hard advanced to professionals
- Price: 19.99 euros
- In one sentence: Hard-hitting 2D top-down survival action with a progression system and guaranteed thrills.