Zombies, or more accurately Survival games, have been all the rage lately. Ranging from 2D platformers to open world sandbox games, they seem to be everywhere, and usually seem to be stuck in a steam Early Access infinite loop. I shall remain is luckily not in any Early Access form, and brings enough to the genre to makes it its own. While not entirely polished it does offer a rare experience in that it is an isometric Action Role Playing Game (ARPG), not the typical survival sandbox. Let’s take a look.
You start the game in an alternative post World War II setting. Nazis have unleashed a terrible virus in United States soil which has started to turn its inhabitants into flesh eating monstrosities. It’s a story about two brothers and their quest to find each other and hopefully survive long enough to do so.
Taking cues from games like Diablo, you pick a class which will determine your playstyle throughout the game. You can run-and-gun, be stealth, be melee focused or choose to take a more dialogue-centric approach and open new conversations and options. The gameplay is well varied and offers a lot of choice. Even time you level up you have a choice between 3 types of skill upgrades that can affect the way your character fights.
There are a good amount of weapons as well. Moving and attacking are all done with the mouse buttons, allowing you to take whichever approach you prefer to fight the endless hordes of zombies. Throw in common, uncommon, and rare weapons, and the level of interest in picking up tons of items becomes worthwhile as you may find an upgrade at any turn. I was able to find 3 rare items in a short time which constantly gave me something to look forward to. Each weapon has a durability factor and can be repaired or broken down into scrap to use for repairing others.
Considering this is a survival game you are in a constant battle with weapon durability, exhaustion, stamina, and even the virus itself. You are also infected in this game, and with no foreseeable way to cure yourself, you can only keep the virus at bay with serum. There are multiple status icons and bars on the main screen which you need to monitor to fight at your best or escape when things aren’t looking so good.
Pretty good atmospheric music plays while you roam the city streets, scavenging cars and buildings for supplies. Multiple NPC’s come into play and offer quests or pieces of the story as you encounter them. You can even have a handful of them join you in your quests! Outfit them with weapons and watch as that large creature that has been giving you trouble falls in half the time when fighting with an AI controlled friend.
Most of the zombies in the game are standard fair and then you start to see that some of the monsters are different. Spitting toxic goo at you, running much faster than the others, raging when they take damage, or even large hulking beasts that will stop at nothing to destroy you. Some of the enemies even have a different color in the sense that they are an elite or champion unit that has a better chance of dropping a rare item. Of course they are much tougher, but never pass on the chance to fight one of these as the rewards are great!
The world is fairly large, and actually only gets bigger as you progress. Subway tunnels come into play as a fast-travel aspect, allowing you to cover more ground or backtrack in a faster manner. This can prove useful as you will be travelling all over New York City completing quests. It’s a big game around the 20 hour mark or more so you can expect to be busy for quite some time.
This game has a lot going for it and is unique enough to try if you appreciate dialogue-driven gameplay with a hearty dose of fighting and survival. Though the character moves a little slow, and the realistic effects of stamina can be frustrating, it’s never much of a problem unless you have to walk a large distance. The pace is pretty good and kept me busy. I even enjoyed the occasional quick event that would pop up with a limited amount of time to complete a task for bonus experience and a break from the main story.
My only problems with the game were really its overall design of the interface. Items are tiny icons with no text over them to know what you are picking up. The screen feels very busy due to the HUD, and normally your mouse doesn’t appear to hover over anything: you need to pause the game in a sense to see what everything means. Especially when you level up or a skill increases. Icons will just appear, and unless you’ve memorized what they all look like you may find yourself pausing a lot in the first few hours trying to take it all in. Dialogue is kind of ugly too as a lot of the conversations were hard to read just on the format of how it appears.
Tl:dr – I Shall Remain is a survival game like no other on the market. A combination of Diablo meets Baldur’s Gate with a post-apocalyptic setting makes the experience deep and fairly satisfying. Rare weapons, equipment breakdown, a constant battle against hordes of zombies and other undead abominations gives the player plenty to kill and run from. Only a few visual issues take away from the experience such as the HUD overlay and lots of icons with no effective in game way to determine what they are without pausing. Once you get through the beginning hours where the game can be fairly unforgiving, the pace evens out and becomes a pretty enjoyable experience.
Rating – 8/10
Purchase – Steam £10.99/$14.99