Video Game: Project Zomboid

Project Zomboid is an isometric zombie survival RPG created by a four person team from Britain. It takes inspiration from games like Survival Crisis Z and X-COM. The game is set in a fictionalised version of Muldraugh, Kentucky; a small town by the side of a highway which includes a number of businesses, a large logging camp, some light industry, and various classes of housing. The developers are releasing periodic updates, Minecraft style, with each update adding a feature or two to the game. Features to be added include randomly generated quests and NPCs, expansion of the perks and skills system, more weapons, more craftable items, and more survival needs like sanity and hygiene.

Notable for having extremely bad luck, but still managing to get the pre-public demo out on schedule, give or take a few months. You can play the (now quite outdated) demo here. The game also managed to get enough votes in the Greenlight system on Steam, allowing it to be purchasable as an Early Access game. Updates and bug-fixes are still on-going, of course.


This game contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: The character can get drunk in order to reduce panic. If you get drunk enough, your character will randomly stumble around.
  • Action Survivor: All player characters start out unskilled and unequipped, with no more advantages than some basic professional training.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Combat, full stop. While a competent player will have no trouble with a half-dozen or so zombies, any more than that and the best option is usually to just run, no matter how well equipped you are. Melee combat is silent but extremely dangerous (a single bite or scratch could result in you eventually zombifying), the shotgun is devastating and safe to use but it attracts zombies from all over the map to your position, and Molotov cocktails attract zombies and run the risk of burning down your safehouse, as well as potentially killing you.
  • Big "NO!": The demo character gets one if the raider shoots his wife.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Alcohol can substitute for painkillers, anti-depressants, sleeping pills, and beta-blockers. However, drinking too much will make the player drunk, and mess up coordination.
  • Boring but Practical: The Park Ranger profession. While it doesn't help with combat or barricading, given how much it rains in Knox County, the weather resistance is actually pretty handy.
  • Born Lucky / Born Unlucky: Your character can have either traits to supplement your playstyle.
    • The former will increase the likelihood of necessary items appearing all throughout town and occasionally have military units/scavengers patrol the streets, killing zombies for you, in your sleep.
    • While the latter reduces the number of supplies by roughly half.
  • Brain Bleach: Can be taken up to literally levels if used as a suicide option either you realized you got infected or has reached into something that is too hard to handle.
  • Continuing Is Painful: If your character dies, you can begin another on the same map - without any skills or inventory, at a random point on the map.
  • Crapsack World: And not just for your character. The game is unwinnable by design: "These are the end-times. There was no hope of survival. This is how you died." At least you can't say you weren't warned.
  • Crazy Survivalist: The raiders. You can be this as well.
  • Darker and Edgier: The final game, as currently advertised, looks as though it will essentially be a grittier, more realistic Survival Crisis Z.
  • Disposable Woman: Kate Smith, the demo character's wife, can survive the tutorial (and, in fact, be perfectly fine aside from the leg injury), depending on the player's actions... but plays no further role in the story either way.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In the tutorial, leaving the oven on while you run off to listen to the radio will result in your house burning down.
    • Merely nailing boards over a window does not block all visibility through it, you need to cover up the gaps with either a curtain or a sheet.
    • Water can be drawn from anything with a tap (kitchen sink, bathtub, etc.) and can be stored in any empty container, be it a plastic bottle or a cooking pot.
    • Take too many pills and it could kill you.
    • Trying to get in and the door is locked? Just smash a window! Oh, you did that with your bare hands? Hope you have some bandages! And you just set off a burglar alarm too? Here comes a zombie horde shambling over to check out the racket. Start running.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Some lighter weapons can be used while moving, but heavy ones will immobilise the player character.
  • Downer Beginning: You start off the tutorial with your things stolen, no food, a wife with a broken leg, and zombies everywhere.
  • Downer Ending: There’s no chance of rescue or a game win screen; you will die eventually.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: The game is littered with these. Knowing that you're infected and running out onto the street to die in a blaze of glory are fun parts of the game.
  • Endless Game: Well, endless in that the game doesn't end until you die.
  • Everything Fades: Completely averted. In later versions bodies will remain on the map until they gradually decay (leaving skeletons behind which will never disappear unless taken) and rain will eventually be able to wash away any outdoor bloodstains, but in the current version, every single corpse, bit of gore, and blood spatter will remain on the map permanently, providing a rather satisfying visual record of the player's exploits.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Like Dwarf Fortress and many other survival games, you already lost the game by the time you played it and you will die, despite your best efforts.
  • Fan Nickname: Baldspot for the tutorial player character.
  • From Bad to Worse: Paypal decides to limit their account. Then Google Checkout decides to mess with them. Then a there was a car bombing near their flat. Then two of the devs were robbed.
  • Gateless Ghetto: Justified in that the town is under quarantine. As the game goes on, the infection will spread, the quarantine lines will either expand outward or be overrun, and more areas of the map will thus become open for player exploration.
  • Ghost Town: Eventually. At the start of the outbreak the town is fairly heavily populated with NPCs, but the vast majority of them die in the first few days and the rest will hole up and hide, leaving the streets deathly quiet.
  • Heal Thyself: Although there is no instant health, you can still treat injuries by bandaging them and getting plenty of food and rest while waiting for them to heal naturally, using pills to treat any pain.
  • Heroic RROD: Overexertion can be your undoing if done recklessly, to the point where you can kill yourself by just surviving the wasteland alone.
  • Hide Your Children: Although the developers are still actively debating amongst themselves and the community as to whether or not children will appear in the game, the 'no' side of the argument is currently winning.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Averted. Eating will increase healing rate, but will not give you instant health. It does increase a point of your strength instantly, but temporarily if fed enough.
  • Improvised Weapon: Baseball bats, a hammer, and boards of wood can be used as weapons. Get some nails, and you can have yourself a spiked bat. Get an empty bottle, a rag, a torn sheet, or a sock, along with some gasoline, and you have a molotov cocktail.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Six hours of real world time equals about a month in game time.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: A very real element of surviving. You desperately need everything.
    • You can also only add/remove items from containers like plastic bags or backpacks if they're equipped, and you have three 'equip' slots total including the 'wear on your back' option for certain ones.
  • Isometric Projection
  • Item Crafting: Used to make several items in the game, as well as upgrading existing ones.
  • Kill It with Fire: How? Why, with Molotovs of course!
  • Mercy Kill: How do you skip the tutorial? Smothering your wife with a pillow. You Bastard.
    • The game's wiki notes that many first-time players do this accidentally.
  • Molotov Cocktail: One of the weapons in the game.
  • Reality Ensues: You know how most Zombie Apocalypse games have you conveniently immune to the virus? Yeah, that's not the case here. Infection is an actual game mechanic.
    • Oh. And there is also no absolute cure for it, too.
  • Run Don't Walk: Inverted. The character used to be only able to walk, until the developers realized the game wouldn’t be so dark running around like Benny Hill.
  • Scavenger World: As would presumably follow a zombie apocalypse.
  • Schedule Slip: The general rule of thumb is that an update will never be released on the day it's scheduled to be released on, and might take anywhere from weeks to months more than originally intended.
  • Schmuck Bait: The Mall. The likely place where the first (numerous) survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse would ever go and so did the likely disease of said apocalypse along with it. Despite of this, it has abundant valuable resources to survive and are still intact even up to the game's timeline. Good luck getting there though.
  • Sanity Slippage: So far, the worst you can get with your sanity, is panicked. It startles your character, upon seeing zombies, but later versions promise
    • In earlier versions, the player will see ghostly versions of zombies everywhere, even more so as the insanity gets worse.
  • Save Scumming: The game autosaves every time you sleep or close the game, so this is extremely difficult to do, although still hypothetically possible (though prone to causing bugs) if you manually back up your savegame files, or forcibly close the game.
  • Serial Escalation: Surviving a single day in this game is relatively easy. Surviving a week is challenging but doable. Surviving a month is hard. The longest verified time that a player has survived in the current version? Over eleven months. Worth noting that the eventual cause of his demise was not the zombies, but rather the fact that there was no more food left on the map and farming and hunting haven't been implemented yet.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The shotgun is really only useful up to a few feet.
  • Spread Shot: The shotgun is basically a wedge of death.
    • Currently, the shotgun is only a Wedge Of Death because there's no code for 'slight damage' on zombies with ranged weapon.
  • Sprint Meter: If you run around a lot, you will get a exhausted moodlet that will prevent you from running, and will make your melee attacks weaker. If you do so while heavily encumbered with loot you can actually injure your back.
  • Too Awesome to Use: In some ways, the shotgun. Its noise will attract zombies from all about, making it more useful when there already is a zombie horde, not to mention ammo is somewhat rare.
    • Sprinting. A great way to avoid an amassed group of zombies but will also attract a lot more attention if one happens to literally run into other unexpected hordes. Skilled players usually do this to redirect the hordes away from their camps.
  • Training from Hell: You'll likely to take this one yourself in a town you live in, as skills provided by jobs from the beginning in comparison are relatively low. By endgame, you can pretty much survive a lot longer than others... if you survive.
  • With This Herring: Averted. Even though you started with no items as you spawn, you spawn in a random home location with local items just so happened to be available for you to survive. Just praise to the gods that you'll get a backpack to have all stuff you need.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: As the game goes on, you will need to look for food to eat. Start going hungry, and your strength goes down, and your healing time decreases. Starve yourself, and you start losing health, along with a massive decrease in strength.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Using pure Max Brooks rules - no fast infected, no special infected, no zombified animals, only headshots kill, and no immunity - a single bite will infect you, no exceptions, with the only currently confirmed cure for a zombie bite being immediate amputation of the affected limb.
  • Zombie Infectee: Getting bitten will cause this. Getting scratched has less of a chance. Once infected however, it is only a matter of time before you join the zombie ranks.
    • Brilliantly, this seems to work even if you get infected and then die from a different cause (certainly not from accidentally setting yourself on fire with a carelessly-thrown molotov, that's for sure); watch your character collapse...and then get back up, with the permanent "Zombiefied" moodlet.
    • Varying on your choice to edit the world prior to launch, you can choose how bad infections are: They can be instant, take hours, days or weeks. Or if you really just want to increase your survival chances, disable infections altogether. Doesn't stop you from getting colds, though.
    • Getting a cold while being a hypochondriac will net you fake moodles about being infected.
  • Zombie Gait