24 Hours ‘Til Rescue

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24 Hours ‘Til Rescue on Steam

MSRP: $3.99

Platform: Windows

Release: 2/19/16

Games like this make me think one of two things: (a) that there’s a subset of people out there who like their games to be so challenging that there’s a market for seemingly unwinnable games or (b) there’s some seriously sadistic developers out there.  That said, you can’t say they didn’t warn us.

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In less than 20 minutes, I managed to rack up close to a dozen deaths.  I’d have more in less time, but the game starts you in a safe space with lots to loot, and silly me, I ran through looting every single time. Y’know, just in case I survived long enough to need any of that stuff.

The premise of the game is that the zombie apocalypse happened, and it didn’t waste any time.  Within a few hours of the first case, 95% of the population of the city were either turned or dead.  You play one of the few survivors with the goal of staying alive for 24 hours until rescue comes.

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There are 10 playable characters, with only two unlocked initially.  You are able to unlock other playable characters once you find them in the game world.  You either begin as Sara, who isn’t very fit but is ok in combat, or Mathew, who is overall in okay shape, but has poor combat skills. What a choice.

The game looks like it has the potential to be a lot of fun – there seems to be the ability to craft items from looted pieces, although I can’t imagine how you’d find the time.  Lootable items are represented either by boxes or by sparkles on furniture and walls.  If something looks like it might be a lootable, pressing the space bar will loot if able.

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However, the crafting system isn’t really explained.  When I press space while standing in front of the stove, I am given the option of trying to craft a bunch of snack foods (which I assume are used to restore health), but when trying to craft, I get the message “not enough fuel” which would be fine, but the game doesn’t explain how to add fuel or where to get it.  So I have no choice but to exit the room into the city with pockets full of things like bags of flour and fresh fish, which I don’t believe can be eaten.

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Not that it matters much. As soon as you walk outside, you’re surrounded on all sides. Go back inside, and instead of the empty space you started in, there are zombies everywhere.  They much have snuck by while you were zoning, because there’s only one way in or out, but whatever. I don’t need that much realism from a zombie game, but it still irks.

The controls, at least to me, feel a little wonky.  People who are used to the combination of WASD movement and still using the mouse for some key abilities (y’know, like ATTACK) may fare better, but I also had the problem where I frequently fat fingered the X button which threw me into a menu.  That was a little disorienting, and I could ill afford any kind of distraction.

I expect I could be more patient with the game if the difficulty was entirely a product of design.  But I can’t help feeling like that already formidable difficulty is compounded by the lack of information. Once, I tried to pass a spot that was on fire, and a message popped up about needing a fire extinguisher, I think.  I’m not sure, because in the time it took me to read the first few words, I was eaten by the hungry mob I’d been running from, which means game over.

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I have no idea what a good score is, but I’m guessing it’s not 24. I will likely dabble in this from time to time when I’m feeling like I’ve got a pretty high threshold for frustration, and I don’t regret the $4 I spent to satisfy my curiosity. But it’s certainly not a game that will appeal to everyone.

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