Survival FPS zombie games usually fall into the category of PVP or co-op, but rarely do they include both modes at once in such a way as to put greater stakes on survival. Contagion, from Monochrome Games, is one of those games that does, to great effect.
Releasing officially this Friday, April 11, Contagion is currently available as an early-access title on Steam. If you participated in their Kickstarter campaign, you may already own a copy. Currently for PC, with Mac and Linux support forthcoming, Contagion’s gameplay immediately brings to mind the ARMA series, with a touch of Left 4 Dead. There are several maps to choose from, and different game modes including Hunted and Extraction. In any mode, on any map, your chosen character spawns at the starting point with one or two firearms (this is random), a cell phone with GPS, and a goal, with directions texted to you in-game. In Extraction mode, you must cooperate with others to reach your goal – in Hunted, it’s a free-for-all, and every living thing is a target.
In any map, you are respawned as a zombie upon death, allowing you to stalk and kill your former teammates until all survivors are overtaken by the virus. If the game goes on for very long without you, as a zombie, seeing any action, you may be pushed into spectator mode as a cockroach – able to survive anything, but unable to do much about your surroundings.
As the game is in Early Access, there are still some issues with movement, and there are more weapons to be added. However, when you spawn by yourself at the starting point, with no idea whether you’re going to remain alone or be swarmed by a pocket of zombies, concern comes first for ammo (which is extremely limited) and securing the area. The lighting and map layout both create a delicious amount of tension, and decisions must be made quickly as to whether a melee attack (which may not be effective unless you have a dedicated melee weapon) or a gunshot would be best at the time. Noise attracts both zombies and survivors to your location, so care is needed.
The game is priced as a single purchase for $14.99, or you can pick up 4 copies for $44.99 and give three of them to friends for a ready-made group of survivors.