I Shall Remain

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I Shall Remain on Steam

MSRP: $9.99

Platform: Windows

Release: 8/24/15


It’s been awhile since a game confused me quite as much as I Shall Remain.  I don’t mean that the game is excessively complex and difficulty to figure out – I just can’t decide if I love it, hate it, or am completely meh about it. My mind is blown by how many really amazing cool things, and how many obnoxious issues are crammed into the first 30 minutes or so of this game, and I have yet to decide if I’m going to try to muddle through it.

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I love the concept.  I Shall Remain takes place in a WWII-era zombie apocalypse. Say what you want about zombie games being overdone – okay, they’re probably a little bit overdone – but a walking dead disaster directly attributable to Nazis – you have to admit, that’s a cool spin. Or it might be just me, but whatever. I love the concept. The game is story driven, with a short prologue to help you get used to the mechanics, so although there’s no true character creation, you do get to choose a perk at the start of the game which will help dictate your preferred playstyle throughout.

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The graphics are serviceable for a top down RPG, but some of the design choices left me shaking my head.   There are two camera options – follow or fixed – and they’re both awful. The mini-map in the lower right hand corner of the screen works feels backwards in respect to the fixed camera choice – what is a right turn on screen is a left turn on the minimap, which makes getting around even more of a maze than it already is. Movement is done with WASD, but looting by default is the F key, which not only feels a little bit awkward, but makes it hard to fast loot while moving (and sometimes, moving fast is going to trump everything else).  You can use shift to sprint, but it’s not a toggle, but needs to be held down.

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Then there’s combat. Oh combat. Usually, ARPGs live and die on two things – combat and loot.  After playing for awhile, I feel like I Shall Remain decided to throw itself on its sword here.  Combat is awful. It’s a single button clickfest, and feels pretty much the same whether you’re using your bare fists or a rifle. Point yourself in the general direction of the zombies and click. Click a lot. Something will probably die eventually. It might be you. While I understand not having to do much in the way of aiming if you’re swinging a baseball bat, if I have a firearm with limited ammo, I want to be able to focus the baddest of the baddies and take him out first.  If the zombies are moving in a pack (and they’re almost always moving in a pack), I can’t figure out a way to reliably select my target. It’s really just a big old mess.

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You will have opportunities to recruit other survivors to your party, but other than managing their inventories, you seem to have no control over additional characters. On the upside, friendly fire doesn’t seem to be a thing you need to worry about. However, my one experience with an AI companion (in the prologue level) wasn’t great.  I equipped him with a melee weapon, but he didn’t seem to be in any rush to use it.  He’d hang back, further back than I was with a pistol, and only get involved if he could feel zombie breath on his face.

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Still, there’s something here.  Something I can’t even put my finger on.  I want to play more. I want to see if it gets better.  I want more of the story (and I’m really hoping this is a story worth playing through).  The reviews on Steam are pretty good overall, so I can’t be the only one who feels this way.  The combination of ARPG and survival elements just make sense.  I Shall Remain is absolutely an interesting game, I just haven’t figured out yet if it’s actually a fun game.

On the other hand, the music is divine. If an actual downloadable version of the soundtrack had been included (or even available), I would recommend that without question. However, the developers have made it available on YouTube if you want to give it a listen.

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