Zero Sievert is a Top-Down single-player pixel shooter that takes prominent design notes from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Escape from Tarkov. After playing this game for the better part of 3 days, we found the experience quite enjoyable. But is it worth having in your library? Spoilers ahead as we go in-depth and give our opinion!
Set in a fictional zone in Eastern Europe you play as a Hunter, your job is to enter the hazardous Zone of Zakov to find resources, ammunition, and gear alongside Crystals that form in anomalies. Bring this loot back to Zero Sievert, an isolated safe haven for Hunters, Scientists, and the Green Army.
The story is fairly open, owing to its inspiration sources of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Escape from Tarkov. However, a story is still present, although minimal and lacking any real depth or solid hook points that drag you into the world of Zero Sievert. This does appear intentional, however, with the game's focus on your personal survival being the front story to focus on. +1
The Lore in the game is fairly plain, with few explanations for some of the creatures and objects in the game. A lot of it, however, lacks hook or imagination. -1
Characters within the game are also fairly plain and their goals even plainer. But the funny quips and the game's focus on the player first make it a solid victory, simple can be well done, and Zero Sievert does it well +1
Dialogue is overall alright. But, when you approach an NPC for quests, they fail to really explain what you're going to be doing, forcing you to go into your journal to check to see what you need to actually do. Any flavor that should otherwise be there is missing, and any extra is bland. -1
Thematically the game stays steady, the world is hostile, and you must survive on your own. There's no surprise "it was a simulation" sci-fi twist, or some lackluster "all a dream" ending. You're here, with your gun, now fire. +1
The game's ability to deliver a story is a sad 3 out of 5.
Zero Sievert's gameplay is short, sweet, and to the point with classic controls that work as you'd expect them to. A short, easily replicable gameplay loop makes the game easy to get a raid or two in on a short schedule. The game's collecting focus gives the player goal after goal to keep you playing well into the night as well.
The controls of the game rely on WASD for movement and the mouse for aiming and shooting. Using 1 or 2 to swap between the two weapons, you can have equipped. 3 through 8 are used for hot-keyed items such as medicine and food. Shift makes you sprint, and G throws a bolt to set off anomalies. J can be used to open your PDA and check your base setup, quests, and skills. The controls work, sometimes even when I don't need them to, such as the few microseconds the game says I've been "stuck" when passing by a corner or a table. +1
Level Design is simple and consistent with a little bit of random generation, Major landmarks will stay in the same place but minor landmarks, anomalies, structures, and objects will be procedurally placed when you leave base via the train. Consistency is appreciated as it allows you to plan quickly what you're going to do. +1
As for content, the game has 5 separate zones you can take on, each of them having a different challenge and loot type focus. There's also a plethora of quest-giving NPCs in the game. Enough for a good 12 hours of content at least. +1
Replayability was accomplished with procedural generation, but the lack of side-loops make the game a one-and-done. Once you've done the quests, there's not much left to make you come back, outside of self-given challenges. -1
Mechanically, the game is solid. Shooting feels good and consistent, using medicine takes time and adds to the pressure when healing mid-combat. The base building is fun and rewards picking up junk for later. Choosing between combat armor and scientist armor for anomaly runs and gear runs has a significant balance between surviving radiation, poison, and fire, or surviving gunshots from hunters and slashes from beasts. All the weapons run similarly and are balanced by weapon type, instead of quality, keeping any one specific weapon from being a must-have. +1
Overall, the game is fun to play and combat is exciting, if not anxiety-inducing when you realize you've bitten off more than you can chew. This leads us to a final score of 4 out of 5 in Gameplay.
Style-wise, the game utilizes pixel-based 16-bit graphics. These are commonly seen throughout the indie-dev scene as they are simple to make, easy on the GPU, and often carry with them a sense of nostalgia for long-lost days of childhood gaming. In Zero Sievert they utilize the style neatly and cleanly, though some contrast of value should be used alongside the contrast of noise they have between sprites and environments. +1
The game's graphical fidelity, otherwise how stable the game's visuals are, is an easily won victory for Zero Sievert. Everything meshes cleanly with minimal clipping, Frame drops, and frame spikes, and even in intense firefights it is easy to see what's going on. Taking a trip into debug mode, we spawned numerous enemy loners, and even with all the gunfire, rain, and light sources we didn't drop frames by any noticeable amount. +1
The game utilizes its sound and visuals well, the quality of the gunshots fits the game perfectly, and its radial "fog of war" that makes it possible for NPCs to hide from the player using trees, furniture, and other objects adds anxiety to the game as you never know who, or what is lurking in the dark. The sound of the rain is lovely, and when an emission happens the swarm of crows cawing through the air is a perfect warning that you need to get inside ASAP. +1
The sound in the game is crisp and when you're inside, the outdoor sounds are muffled, showing great attention to detail. When hiding behind cover, you can use the sound of enemy footsteps to let you know time is running out, and you need to make a decision. As you're on a raid, you can hear the sounds of combat all over the map, telling you where trouble can be found, or where you can find some bodies to make some quick loot. +1
The camera is tethered between the player and the cursor. Moving your mouse not only moves the cursor but the camera itself, allowing you to peek long ranges depending on the scope you have on your weapon. The camera is smooth and works exactly as you'd expect it to when presented with it. +1
Altogether, the game does its Audio-Visual perfectly and for that, we give it an unbeatable 5 out of 5.
Final Results 4/5
The game is alright. It's no must-play, however, but it's a fun experience that we found ourselves enjoying for the full length of our play of it. We recommend you check out the game and enjoy it as much as we did!