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Video Game / How to Survive

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How To Survive is an 2013 isometric Survival Sandbox game by EKO Studios, released for PC and ported to PS3 and Xbox 360. You play as a survivor who is washed ashore to an island chain that's mainly inhabited by zombies, and are assisted by an eccentric Russian man named Kovac, whose "How to Survive" guide (the pages of which are scattered across the island) will teach you how to do exactly that.

The game offers an expansive crafting option as its main selling point. You are able to create and/or modify the items you have in your inventory. Also it keeps track of player's hunger, thirst, tiredness and sleep levels, so you'll have to find clean water, food, and rest regularly in the special bunkers in the islands. Scattered across the islands are tongue-in-cheek excerpts from an in-game guidebook detailing what you must do to fight effectively and keep yourself alive.

A stand-alone expansion, How to Survive: Third Person, has also been released. It features the same campaign as the original game, but played from an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective rather than the original isometric top-down perspective.

A sequel, How to Survive 2, was released on PC in 2016 after spending time in Steam Early Access, and was then ported to PS4 and Xbox One the following year. The zombie outbreak has spread across the entire world, and Kovac is seemingly gathering survivors to build "the village of hope" as a beacon of human civilization in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. You play as one of the survivors brought in by Kovac's broadcast and end up assisting him in his endeavor.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Annoying Arrows: Downplayed and justified. While the arrows are weaker than bullets, they're still more than capable of bringing zombies down with multiple shots. Using them can often be a better bet, because while you're reliant on ammo drops with guns, arrows can always be made by chopping up wood.
  • Attack Backfire: When you restart the electrical system, the first tower electrifies a zombie and resurrects it. Attacking this enemy with a melee weapon will shock you for a few seconds.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Bears are the toughest animals in the game, and whenever they grab you they'll steal some of your food.
  • Boom, Headshot!: It is a game about zombies, after all. However, the headshots aren't necessary and enough body damage will also bring them down.
  • Boss Battle: Every time the Tyrant appears, it always sets off difficult battle to defeat him.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Looted off soldiers' corpses/defeated soldier zombies alongside helmets. They obviously aren't used fro direct purpose, but still provide decent protection in melee, especially when reinforced with bone or metal plate.
  • Chainsaw Good: Chainsaws are the most powerful melee weapons in the game, divided into small capacity and high capacity. As expected, they're also the most resource-consuming by far.
  • Charged Attack: Can be performed with melee weapons. While it takes a while to swing, the resultant hit will kill weaker zombies outright and stagger all but most powerful, allowing for a Finishing Move.
    • The tutorial tips call these a "critical hit", a term normally used for a special situation that causes extra damage rather than simply hitting harder than normal.
  • Critical Hit: There's a random chance of one when you're shooting. In 2, the game instead has an aiming system, where if you aim at a zombie that's close enough for long enough, you'll be able to score a critical hit.
  • Damage Reduction: Crafting armor will reduce the amount of damage your character takes.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: The bloated zombies will explode in a shower of gore after death.
  • Expy: Kovac, who guides you through the tutorial and wrote all the tips and notes in the game has more than a hint of Isaac Clarke about him.
    • Even more obvious: Kovac is the true surname of the always-masked Rorschach in Watchmen.
  • Evil All Along:
    • Towards the end of the game, you learn that Kovac is responsible for luring aircraft and boats into crashing into the archipelago, then pitting the survivors against the zombies in order to gather data for his survival guide. The ending also reveals that Ramon is working with Kovac as well, which is why he kept sending you all over the archipelago where you had to fight your way through tons of zombies.
    • In the second game, the ultimate goal of the "main quest" is to help Kovac build a powerful transmitter to broadcast a special signal, with the implication that this will somehow help with the zombie problem. In truth, Kovac wants to send a challenge to extraterrestrials to get them to invade Earth, having become bored with zombies as people have started to adapt to them. Kovac succeeds, and in the post-endgame aliens will show up and start causing mayhem on top of the zombies; at least the aliens and the zombies will fight each other on top of trying to kill all humans.
  • Finishing Move: The execution moves in melee, which can be performed on staggered zombies. In 2, the zombie must be weak enough to be finished.
  • Flaming Arrows: Dousing gasoline onto arrows creates Incendiary Arrows, which has this effect on zombies.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted. If you're playing in co-op, the shots from your partner will inflict damage on your character and vice versa.
  • Giant Mook: The Brute zombies, which deal considerable damage and have great amounts of health.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Soldier zombies, which wear body armour and helmets, and so can only be reliably taken down with leg shots or powerful melee attacks.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Averted; eating food only deals with your hunger and doesn't provide healing. However, it is possible to craft a potion that provides defence boost, a potion which instantly improves your aim and another that gives a strength boost, assuming you have Unbreakable and Super Soldier skills.
  • Insistent Terminology: Sniper rifles are always referred to as precision rifles.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: When your character needs to carry food and water with them in addition to traditional weapons and healing items, not to mention the crafting implements, figuring out how to fit everything in one backpack is a challenge to say the least. Fortunately, most items don't disappear if you drop them on the ground and leave the area, so if you're overloaded you can store your extra stuff at a safe area.
  • Item Crafting: You are able to create custom guns, shotguns, precision rifles and other weaponry. The supporting supplies such as healing salves can also be crafted.
  • Jack of All Trades: Fittingly, the character named Jack fulfills this role in the game.
  • Kill It with Fire: The gasoline bottles can either be turned into Molotov Cocktails by adding a piece of cloth as fuse, or doused onto arrows to create Incendiary Arrows.
    • One of the survivor characters, Kenji, can be turned into a pyromaniac with a skill tree devoted largely to fire. He gets increased flame damage, explosive arrows and ability to carry double amount of Molotovs, amongst other things.
  • Large Ham: Everyone besides Kovac suffers from under-acting.
  • Mle Trois: Very rarely, predators will attack zombies, causing the zombies to aggro against them. However, this is very rare and it's not clear what triggers it, as most of the time animals and zombies will simply ignore each other.
  • Money Spider: Averted and lampshaded. Zombies and other enemies don't carry anything at all, with exception of soldier zombies who can their body armour looted. A character named Jack does get a high-level skill that allows for random drops of potions and other useful items on zombies. It's named Lucky Survivor to acknowledge the unlikelyhood of this happening.
  • Non-Human Undead: Sometimes, you'll have to fight aggressive wild animals instead of zombies. Then, there'll be zombified versions of those animals.
  • Reviving Enemy: The elecrtical zombies can electrify their comrades, and bring them back to fighting condition.
  • RPG Elements: There several playable characters, and each of them has different skill set. In co-op, it allows them to complement each other.
  • Survival Horror: A more long-term and action-y take on this trope. You know where and when the enemies are going to attack, but you still dread them because of your shortage of supplies and manpower needed to defeat their waves.
  • Suspiciously Cracked Wall: The bushes will usually reveal helpful items behind them when they're cut away with a machete.
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: You'll always get attacked by a large wave of zombies when you open the door to one of the shacks on the island for the first time.
  • Title Drop: How To Survive is the name of the guide written by Kovac, the chapters of which you'll discover when scavenging around the islands.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Can be done with some melee weapons, such as the pitchfork.
  • Weakened by the Light: The elite night-time only zombies will freeze or even temporarily run away when they have the flashlight shone on them.
  • Wham Line: Ready for another round?
  • Universal Ammunition: All guns use the same kind of ammo, whether they're shotguns, pistols or precision rifles. Rather surprising, considering the game's otherwise hardcore-survival nature.
    • Said ammo being grapeshot, so whatever random bits and pieces of metal make it.