Lately I’ve been hearing some pretty positive buzz around March of the Living, enough so that it prompted me to pick up a copy a couple of weeks ago. While I’ve only played it here and there — the game is really suitable for sporadic sessions — I’ve been deeply impressed by what it offers.
In a nutshell, March of the Living is a survival rogue-like that is a blend of The Walking Dead, FTL, and old-school shareware pixelart. You take control of a character on a quest (initially, a guy looking for his son) and start marching across the country in the midst of a full-blown zombie apocalypse. Each segment on the map is made up of some walking (which causes fatigue and hunter while holding the threat of zombie attacks) and then a final story choice. Each of these little vignettes takes you into the world and makes you fret over what you think you should do, especially when it comes down to doing the moral thing or doing what needs to be done to survive.
It’s a game of both choices and resources, the latter of which are always limited and cause plenty of the former. Do you sleep on the road and chance getting attacked, just to reset your fatigue meter? Do you pick up more party members for safety, even though they’ll eat more food? Do you head into the city to scavenge or stay in the country and make a beeline to your objective?
It’s tense, because you make the best decisions you can and hope for the best. There’s a combat system here, of course, and you’ve got both melee and ranged weapons to help hold off the zombie horde. I’m not absolutely in love with the combat, but it is necessary and even sometimes gripping. I liked giving my guy a shotgun and having him mow down a pack with a well-timed burst.
I think that the simple graphics work in favor of this kind of game. The most intriguing parts come in text form anyway, so no need to gussy it up with loads of polygons and particle effects.
Anyway, March of the Living might not be the best game ever, but it is a gripping title and definitely a must-buy for me.