Released by Davevillz on June 6th, 2016, XCavalypse also has full Virtual Reality (VR) support through Vive. However, this review will be focusing on a non-VR experience. The developers also intend to add Linux support in the future.
Wait, a controller is required?!
When I first loaded up XCavalypse to give it a try, I was shocked to find that a controller of some type – be it Playstation 3 or 4, Xbox, a Steam Controller, or another compatible option – was required to play the game. Apparently, the mouse/keyboard combination with the specific controls within this game are too complicated to adequately configure without the additional equipment, which seems a both disappointing and a little hard to believe for me; other simulation titles have managed without adding on this requirement, so I wanted to make sure I played around both with and without adding an accessory.
Short of not being able to move my machinery – by default, you need the Left and Right joystick for that – I was able to do everything else that was required. This made the Survival mode harder without that extra maneuverability, but not impossible, since it’s only a matter of time before the ‘rig succumbs to damage; the same could be said for the “Headdrop” mode, in which killing blows via head shots are tallied up for points. However, “Clean Up” was nearly impossible without the ability to move towards the dumpster, as the objective is to scoop zombies up and drop them off inside.
After giving these three modes a go with a controller, I can say that the controls feel much more intuitive that way, and that’s coming from someone who is very much a keyboard/mouse gal. It does list a controller as a requirement on the Steam shop page for XCavalypse, but I’ll readily admit that I missed that little detail the first time I viewed the information for this Indie gem. One way to get around the controller requirement is to play in VR mode with Vive rather than non-VR style, but as I mentioned earlier, I have yet to playtest that feature.
So, how is this NOT just another Zombie fest?
Honestly, the big selling point for XCavalypse not being “just another zombie game” is the addition of demolition toys and heavy machinery – and that’s about it. Otherwise, it is another Average Joe main character trying to navigate towards safety through city streets full of the undead. I found the minimal storyline in the Tutorial to be cute, and the limited voice acting was charming, reminding me of Postal 2 in its raw enthusiasm and liberal use of profanity.
I was surprised that XCavalypse hooked me as well and as fast as it did, considering I’ve logged many, many hours in the Zombie Apocalypse sub-genre. There’s very little learning curve here – just climb into the ‘rig and go, and you’ll be swinging the huge scoop around and sending zombies flying across the screen in no time. Plus, the lower price point on Steam makes this an inexpensive addition to any library of titles, and a great choice for someone who wants a fairly low-key, amusing, but still bloody adventure.
I would love to see a multiplayer mode added in the future. It would be hilarious to be racing other players to stack up the most zombie bodies in a dumpster, or fighting to knock down the most walls and buildings. But since it’s such a fast-paced rush without much of a time commitment required, it’s easy to get in, bust some heads open, and get out without much extra fanfare, so perhaps a co-op or competitive mode would just boggle down the experience.
While I haven’t had a chance to play the VR aspects of XCavalypse, I can tell you that this title isn’t just another walk in the zombie-filled park. While the controller requirement is disappointing and restrictive, especially for an Indie game on Steam, some additional tweaks for keyboard configuration would eliminate that problem. I would have enjoyed having more customization options beyond graphics settings, but really, XCavalypse is a neat little package of an Indie game that doesn’t have much to adjust.
The soundtrack and sound effects are satisfying, and it delivers on exactly what it appears to be intended for: A fast, fun little battle against zombies, with multiple modes so you can choose slightly different objectives, letting you log quick, satisfying sessions for very casual play.
Currently in Early Access, the developer has mentioned wanting to “improve the replayability” of XCavalypse with the help of player feedback, but so far I’m definitely planning on revisiting it again to try and improve my high scores. Besides, it’s a great way to take out some real-life frustrations after a long day, and there’s something almost therapeutic about using construction vehicles on tender, meaty zombie skulls.