Level Zero is an asymmetrical multiplayer survival horror game that feels like Dead By Daylight and Alien Isolation have been thrown into a blender – potentially in the best way. It’s the classic story of a scientific expedition gone wrong. Teamwork is everything, of course, as four scientists fight to survive against two powerful monsters in a PvP showdown. Developer DogHowl Games recently invited me to a hands-off preview, and so far I’m feeling optimistic.
As a science team, your objective is to restart the electrical system, by finding and fixing the broken fuse box in all three sectors. This requires a toolbox hidden in the dark, so don’t rush, though failure to restart the power supply within 30 minutes will result in defeat. Once done, activating the central computer leads to a tense final showdown that plunges you into total darkness for 60 seconds, and only one scientist must survive to win. DogHowl recognizes that there is a learning curve here, so take your time studying the map.
Level Zero – November 2022 Screenshots
Your ultimate weapon against monsters is light; there are no shooters or melee weapons here to protect you. With limited resources available, this requires strategic thinking and you will have to choose your moments. Should you use UV light which won’t run out of power but won’t hurt monsters? Do you choose a torch with minor damage that gradually depletes? Or do you need a reliable flare that both illuminates your surroundings and deals high damage to monsters?
If a scientist is ambushed, their teammates can revive you if they’re quick, though death doesn’t mean banishing you to a spectator hall. Instead, dead scientists control an unarmed drone, which allows them to tag items, bring items to teammates, and track monsters with UV light. Monsters cannot kill drones, as killing them a second time would be slightly cruel, but they can temporarily stun them.
On the other side, the monsters play very differently, and your main objective is simpler: eliminate every scientist or prevent them from activating the central computer. If even a scientist is still breathing after power is restored, you’ve lost. While scientists come with various gadgets, monsters have innate abilities such as sensing human heartbeats, manipulating electricity to disable light sources, or even screaming to force humans to drop objects. objects.
You have powerful abilities, and Level Zero seems to balance them well, thanks to an energy meter system. Monsters need to max out their energy at first by collecting eggs, and once you do, your meter regenerates automatically. Unlike scientists, you can see in the dark, the big tradeoff being that you don’t have a minimap. So, make good use of these skills. If a scientist kills you, monster respawns are unlimited, although there is a 35 second wait to respawn.
You can’t measure so much without jumping right into the practice, but what’s here looks impressive. Between cleaning rooms while searching for a toolbox and trapping scientists in a pincer formation, Level Zero feels like it puts strategy first. Whichever side you’re on, team communication is key in these strange sectors. I also like that, unlike Dead by Daylight, the “killers” aren’t left alone to celebrate their victories.
Level Zero has three maps at launch, and this preview has primarily focused on the Space Station. It’s not a very original design, of course, but what I’ve seen seems well executed. Through these pitch-black corridors, flickering lights and countless corpses of those who came before us, the eerie atmosphere struck a chord. Dynamic events like bursting pipes can create voltages, and random power outages give monsters free reign for about 40 seconds, which is a terrifying thought. If they don’t kill you, the suspense probably will.
Once either team completes their objectives, players are rewarded with experience, allowing you to purchase up to three perks, such as increased running speed. If you die, these disappear, but you can buy them back. Character customization options are also available, providing different cosmetic items such as skins, gloves, and costumes. Few of them were shown, but I got a glimpse of DogHowl’s post-launch plans. There are more maps on the way, new game modes, more cosmetics, and additional perks. It all sounds pretty big! DogHowl Games also plans to migrate Level Zero to Unreal Engine 5 in the future, although there is no specific timeline for this yet.
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