06/01/2021

๐ŸงŸ‍♀️๐ŸงŸ‍♂️ Unturned | Review | PS4 | "a tough sell" ๐ŸงŸ‍♀️๐ŸงŸ‍♂️ @SDGNelson #IndieGames #GameDev

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A free-to-play title on the PC gets a port to PS4 at a price tag of £19.99. I don’t usually tend to focus on price and when I do, it’s usually to point out that a mobile game has had a lazy Switch port and the paywall removed which massively unbalances the game (yaaaaaay) so in the case of Unturned, things are slightly different but that knowledge of it being free on a different platform does sting, especially when the game behind it feels so empty and in-progress.

Set in a cartoonish world comprised of simple, boxy graphics in which zombies have overrun, your character must survive the wilderness by scavenging, keeping healthy and uninfected.

The meat of the game is in crafting and surviving, whilst these – and the experience system – are quite involved, the lack of responsiveness in the controls and general emptiness of the in-game worlds (there are several to choose from that are based on real-world locations that alter whether your spawn location is rural, city-based or open plains etc.) mean that I ended up feeling that I was pottering around, knocking up shelters and equipment etc. for no real reason, I couldn’t get invested in my little character and their survival at all.

Unturned is a very quiet game where the zombies stand stock still until you are close to them and are only attracted by sounds such as gunfire. It’s initially tense as you approach a town or rural gas station, staking out the position of the zombies and deciding to lure them away, run over them – if you are lucky enough to have a gassed-up vehicle– or go in shooting and swinging with one of the several ranged or melee weapons on offer. 

However, after a few situations such as this, the rudimentary AI and repetitive nature of the game is revealed. There are no hidden secrets in the game world or layers of gameplay to dive into. As I explored campsites and tower blocks, the initial excitement of finding out what was within always led to the same sigh as I again picked up the same foodstuffs and items over and over. 

There are online modes as well as offline coop but whilst these add variety in playstyle, it doesn’t change the superficial sense of gameplay as you wander a pretty lifeless world. 

Unturned has an accessible, uncluttered visual style as well as intrigue and tension in the initial openness of its setup but after a while, the starkness of the game reveals itself and makes it hard to stay invested in a title that feels like it needs more depth and vibrancy to keep players coming back for more. 

Unturned has had real success in its original PC format and a lot of love from fans who have been with the game as it has expanded but it’s hard to recommend this PS4 version, which suffers from a fundamental flatness in gameplay, unfortunately.

5/10

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