Mini DAYZ is a charming mobile interpretation - or 'demake,' if you can stomach that term - of cult classic survival sim DayZ.
It started out as a fan-made browser game project before being taken over by DayZ developer Bohemia itself. Now Mini DAYZ has made its way to iOS, where it's been in soft launch for several months.
Mini DAYZ takes the expansive third person action of the original game (or rather mod) and greatly condenses it into a stripped back, top-down pixel-art format. It's not a port - it's a tribute.
Here are some impressions of the latest build of the game following a few hours play.
DayZ of the dead
If you're unaware of DayZ and its many survivalist imitators, perhaps the best way to describe it is as a videogame mash-up of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and The Walking Dead.
Mini DAYZ retains the core elements of the original. You play the part of a downtrodden survivor in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The idea is to move from abandoned village to ransacked city, through the ravaged countryside, scavenging for supplies to keep you alive.
Your main concern is to keep fed, watered, and warm using whatever provisions you can find. Go too long without meeting any of these needs and your health bar will start depleting towards permadeath, necessitating a complete restart.
The other concern is your physical safety. You're not the only creature eking out a meagre existence in this world - there are rabid dogs, bandits, and zombies roaming the environment.
You can either run away from these threats or take them on directly. Manual weapons will suffice (such as an axe or sledgehammer), but you'll risk sustaining an injury in the fight - and if you start bleeding out you'll need to apply a bandage pretty sharpish.
Far safer to grab yourself a gun, though they're relatively rare. Finding the right type of ammo is a bit of a lottery, too.
Given the variety of options at your disposal, playing Mini DAYZ is surprisingly simple. You simply tap where you want your character to go, hitting a virtual button whenever you near an interactive element.
There's also a virtual button for cycling between your various weapons, and when you select a firearm you'll get a button to shoot and one to reload. Aiming is automatic, but you'll need to pick the moment when the aiming reticule turns green to guarantee accuracy.
While scouring the environment is a large part of play, you'll spend almost as much time in your inventory. Juggling items and making tough decisions about what to take with you is a major part of Mini DAYZ, just as it is in DayZ.
Do you take the .357 ammo in the hope that you'll find a handy revolver lying around in the town up ahead, or the matches that enable you to light a fire when the temperature drops? Do you protect your bonce with a tough motorcycle helmet, or go with a headlight that will enable you to travel at night?
Mini DAYZ is full of these tantalising decisions, and you'll spend a lot of time sat staring at a menu weighing up your options.
All in all, I'm looking forward to seeing Mini DAYZ hit the App Store proper. I think a lot of people are going to like it. It promises to supply the kind of easy-to-play, difficult-to-master experience that could be perfect for mobile gamers seeking something more than yet another tapper or Clash Royale clone.
My biggest concern is that the game will prove to be too repetitious over the long haul, with perhaps not enough depth to any of its simplified systems. It should also be noted at this early stage that I experienced several crash-out bugs.
Hopefully these issues will be eliminated for the final version - whenever that arrives.
Mini DAYZ is in soft launch on the Netherlands, Philippines, and Canada App Stores.