By Madeline Ricchiuto
How to Survive: Storm Warning is a new edition of How to Survive which includes the DLC expansion as well as a new feature- the weather conditions can effect the player and the environment in various ways. While this a fantastic feature for a survival game, the adverse weather conditions combined with the Dark Souls-style respawning of previous enemies on a save make the game rather needlessly difficult. Or maybe I'm just worse at games than I'd thought, because my method of getting through How to Survive on both co-op and single player was to strategically die at checkpoints. Which is one strategy of gaming, I guess, but not one I've ever particularly enjoyed.
The basic plot of the game, for those unaware, is that you play a survivor or a shipwreck who washes up on an island in an archipelago riddled with Zombies. You find a few other survivors on your way to escape, including your two guides Ramon and Kovac. Ramon is your partner in trying to escape, and Kovac is the long-time survivor who teaches you how to survive the game. Part of your survival in H2S is management of your resources, including food and water, as well as finding a safe place to sleep.
A new player character joins the lineup in How to Survive: Storm Warning – military veteran Nina- along with a fifth and final island to give some more "variety" to the game. The true problem with the original H2S, was a lack of variety in gameplay and in the color palette used, and a few technical glitches along with an imprecise gunplay mechanic.
Playing the game in two-player story mode is somewhat imbalanced, as the zombies will target player 1 and completely ignore the second player. Its a fairly common problem I remember from the local multiplayer games of generations past, but is an easy enough thing to fix in coding.
Given the success of the Demon Soul/Dark Souls franchise, I'm certain there are a huge number of gamers who would absolutely love the difficulty of How to Survive. As a more story-driven gamer, however, I find the 7-hour plot of H2S to be amusing but far too fond of fetch-quests for a game so short. The game essentially functions as a series of fetch quests, with little deviation from that pattern.
Kovac, the game's antagonist and walking tutorial, is the clear highlight of How to Survive. His survival guides litter the archipelago with tips and tricks to avoid certain death, but it is Kovac's deadpan snarking in the guide cut-scenes and tutorial sequence that make the guides worth finding.
Scavenging, for survival guides and materials, is the only way to play How to Survive. You need to disassemble certain items for parts to put together homemade guns and health poultices. Crafting isn't just a nice bonus for players who enjoy that sort of thing, but rather is something required for to progress the game. It is realistic but also something that may alienate some gamers. Crafting can be fun, but How to Survive forces the player to craft weapons, armor, and food in a rather clunky mechanic shoe-horned into the item inventory.
To put it simply, How to Survive: Storm Warning is not a game you can play straight through. Its a short game, and most of the changes engineered for the Storm Warning edition are online multiplayer functions, including a siege mode. The story mode is interesting, but not exactly worth the effort. If you're looking for a game to play for a few minutes and then walk away from and don't mind dying a lot on the way, this just may be the game for you.
Returning players will find enough changes to keep them interested, and new players will certainly find things to love – the game is a bit of a throwback in its use of a top-down point of view and non-shared inventory (in multiplayer). It is indeed a unique game to add to your collection, as there is nothing like in on either the Xbox One or the PS4.
Madeline Ricchiuto is a freelance writer and editor with a fondness for comics, movies, and video games. She writes for TheBlot, examiner.com, and sometimes even print magazines.