Urban Strife is another title to look forward to in 2022. It’s a turn-based tactical game set in a zombie apocalypse, inspired by such games as Jagged Alliance. It’s being made by White Pond Games, located in Romania. Unlike many other games I’m looking forward to, I have actually played this one since they had a demo running during Steam Next Fest. So this is not just hopeful faith based on previews, it’s surprisingly good, with maybe some minor questionable writing. For an example – the town you are in is called Urban. To me, that just comes off as weird considering the title of the game. Urban Strife implies hardship in a general city environment, not actually having difficulties in a city named Urban. It’s a bit confusing, but as I said, it’s a minor thing, and it could even be a placeholder for all I know.
The demo starts at the absolute beginning of the game, with you having to create your own character. Here you get to pick how you will look, what kind of physical stats you will have, etc. Story-wise, you crash with a car, and are quickly rescued, and taken to a shelter with a couple of survivors. And, it’s clear from here that survival management, and base building will be a huge part of the game, even if we can’t do much in the demo. Dead State, a very similar game to this one going by setting, and gameplay genre, had this aspect too, and while that game was enjoyable, atmospheric and well written (except the weird ending), it did suffer from lack of budget, and engine limitations. My hope is here that Urban Strife will take all these things that these two games have in common, expand upon it, and make it better. One thing that is better already, though, is the combat.
And thank God, it’s not another nuXcom clone! Urban Strife uses action-points, true-line of sight, and pretty realistic damage. Not to slag on nuXcom too much, but the board-game, abstract style of tactical combat in my opinion is way inferior – to the more classic style of turn-based gaming with points that define movement, and action. Also having true line of sight, I think makes for better planning, more realistic engagements, and visual splendor that don’t take you out of the game every time someone fires a weapon. In nuXcom, it’s pretty common to see super heated plasma streaks going through walls, hitting your men in the face whilst behind cover. It kills the immersion a bit, at least for me. No such thing here. Bullets can still pass through objects though, but it’s not based on abstract rules, it’s all depending on penetration values. High caliber rifle shots will easily pass through fences, and thin walls, which to me makes sense, and increases the tactical aspect of the game. It makes me think of the classic game Silent Storm, with one difference of course – that game allowed for full dynamic destruction of any building. A thing that I think will be missing from Urban Strife, but that’s okay, considering the setting compared to the war setting in Silent Storm.
All in all, the combat felt exciting in the demo, very close to Jagged Alliance in fact, except that you can’t go prone. What does enhance the feeling of the combat greatly is the superb animations, and graphics. The graphics look very realistic – it has this dirty, apocalyptic vibe to it. I really appreciate the fact that they didn’t go with any stylization here, and went for grittiness. The animations in combat is also considerable when you factor in it’s a relatively small indie-game. It both plays, and look great. Beyond that, and it’s hard to know how it will compare to the release version, but the game has a substantial looting system with tons of items. Both for personal use, and stuff that will improve your shelter. Having to scavenge for loot is fitting going by the setting, and let’s just hope they find a nice balance to it.
And that is all from me. The only thing that remains now is the eternal wait for release. Thanks for reading.