Game Reviews

Trial by Survival

Star onStar onStar halfStar offStar off
| Trial by Survival
Trial by Survival
| Trial by Survival

Survival in a post-apocalyptic world might be a grim prospect in reality, but the premise has also been a rich source of gaming inspiration in recent years.

Scavenging for resources in a ruined world, fending off survivors - of the human and inhuman variety - and cobbling together makeshift defences is a potent formula.

Trial by Survival attempts to follow it, but it doesn't quite grasp some of the key elements.

Survival horror

You play as a shunned member of a small community in a crumbling society. Cast out to take part in your very own trial by survival (aha!), each of the 14 days you're given to survive is represented by a short level set in a ruined town, forest, street, or bunker.

The idea is to get to the level exit before the zombie population chews your head off, locating experience points and cogs that can be used to assembled new weapons and repair your armour.

There are critical flaws in this simple setup. Levels are too short and linear, offering little scope for exploration. You just follow an arrow to the exit, bashing or avoiding zombies and taking minor diversions to pick up ammo or resources.

The other issue is that these resources don't have any element of surprise or delight. You don't stumble across a shotgun in a cupboard or a can of beans to restore your health - just the same generic ammo and one-size-fits-all cog components.

It takes all the joy and mystery out of what little exploration is offered - that crucial 'what's around this corner?' factor that other games of this sort thrive on.

Who forgot the can opener?

The combat, too, is uninvolving at best. Trial by Survival is designed as a twin-stick shooter, which seems to sit awkwardly with the whole setup's focus on ammo conservation and cautious progression.

It's nigh-on impossible to pick your shots with firearms, so you eat through ammo in super-quick time. There's even a separate Arena mode that drives home the awkward combination at play here.

And besides, when the tactic of back-peddling while swinging your crowbar wildly proves so effective, what's the point?

Things get more interesting the later into the game you get, and the more equipment you can afford - but the latter will realistically require some in-app purchases if you're to see everything without the need for serious grinding.

At least with a one-off payment you can get your own dog and a decent starting load-out.

But when the core survival action misses the mark like it does here, it's unlikely you'll feel inclined to spend any more on Trial by Survival than necessary.

Trial by Survival

Trial by Survival fails to realise the potential for cautious exploration and surprise discoveries in such a post-apocalyptic scavenging setup, and includes an ill-suited twin-stick combat system to boot
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.