As game-creation technology becomes more widely accessible, amazing game innovations & concepts are constantly being created by upstart indie game developers. ZERO Sievert, a single-player isometric 2D extraction shooter, developed by CABO Studio and published by Modern Wolf, is an interesting and fresh take on the burgeoning genre.
In Zero Sievert, you control a 2D pixel-art character known only as the Hunter. Your goal? Extract with as much loot as possible. In Zero Sievert, your character will take a locomotive to the game’s various biomes and survive threats like Ghouls, the environment, and other hunters. Much like other games in the genre, you’ll have missions and goals to complete for additional currency to upgrade your weapons and gear.
A One-Man Army
Like your character in Zero Sievert, the game’s lead developer is also a one-person army. CABO Studio is an indie development company based in Italy. A single person, Luca Carbonera, develops ZERO Sievert. Cabonera started the development of ZERO Sievert as a Kickstarter project in 2020, and the game was released in early access on Steam on November 15, 2022.
Inspired by games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Escape from Tarkov, ZERO Sievert has a fairly high difficulty curve that can serve as a significant challenge to some gamers. With punishing, Tarkov-like mechanics within a 2D atmosphere, a single mistake can cause your character to get wiped to the death screen.
Like S.T.A.L.K.E.R., the environment can be bleak and dark, with interior corridors that require night-vision goggles and surprises around every corner. Akin to its inspiration, ZERO Sievert is set in a post-apocalyptic Russia, where radiation and monstrous beasts scour the lands you deploy to.
Surprisingly Nuanced Gameplay
Where ZERO Sievert shines is really in the gameplay. Though the 2D aesthetic can be misleading, strategy is key, just like in other military sims. One core concept in ZERO Sievert is your character’s field of view. Peeking around corners, taking your time, and getting angles are core to the gameplay. Rushing through this game equates to almost certain death.
Gunplay feels snappy and realistic, with different levels of recoil depending on your weapons of choice. There is a tech tree (which we didn’t discover until 20 hours into the game) and a base-building mechanic that enables crafting.
Unlike the extraction shooters it’s loosely based on, however, in ZERO Sievert, you don’t lose your loot when you die. You will, however, suffer different, less punishing effects, and you’ll quickly become accustomed to the gameplay loop of–take the train into the raid, kill a hunter or two, die, and repeat.
Because you don’t lose your gear or loot every time, this actually makes the early game less frustrating than other PvP-oriented extraction shooters. Once you start filling up all your storage space, however–you can quickly start to snowball, creating a satisfying effect of being almost super-human on the battlefield.
Game is Still in Development
ZERO Sievert is truly an Early-Access title. Though we didn’t experience too many game-breaking glitches, crashes, or bugs, there were issues with the interface, like unclickable buttons and empty dialogue options. In addition, missing mechanics, like faction reputation, have yet to be implemented in the Early Access version of the game.
We also experienced what felt like a memory leak when the game first emerged in Early Access (we were running the game on an RTX 3070Ti); a subsequent patch seems to have fixed our lag issues.
If you do pick up the game in Early Access, don’t expect a full title. It took us around 35 hours to complete all of the missions currently in the game, and while certain mechanics seem fully fleshed out, you can tell there are greater and bigger ideas behind the surface.
ZERO Sievert Has a Lot of Potential
Sound design in ZERO Sievert is on point, and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t jump out of our seats a few times while playing the game. Gunshots sound realistic and different depending on the weapon, and directional footsteps indicate where enemies are lurking. There is a nice variety of weapons, with various crafting options to customize your weapons to your liking.
There is also something bubbling under the surface of ZERO Sievert in terms of ideas that we think are fantastic. Without spoiling the game, there are two factions in the current Early Access version, the Crimson Corporation, and Green Army. We can see building reputation and additional faction missions as something that could make the game more variable and fun to play with unique, divergent quest lines.
But ultimately, this is up to whether development on the game continues. While CABO Studio and Luca Carbonera have already been making regular updates to the game to improve it, only time will tell whether he can execute on those ideas and how fast they will occur. Currently, the game is slated for a full release sometime in 2023.
As an early-access game and for its value, ZERO Sievert delivers on its promise of being a unique and challenging game worth the current price tag.
While rough around the edges and still needing to be fleshed on a few fronts, the game was fun and addictive once we understood its core mechanics. Only time will tell whether the game will live up to its full potential, but we do think that it’s starting at a very strong place.
ZERO Sievert is a unique, fast-paced experience with a formidable learning curve but a satisfying reward. If you’re looking for a new, addictive, single-player challenge that will make you question your skills as a gamer, then you should support the game’s development and pick up ZERO Sievert in early access.
Zero Sievert Early Access Review (Version 0.26.2)
A challenging & punishing 2D extraction shooter with a unique aesthetic that needs further development before launch but is ultimately fun, addicting, and rewarding to play.
You can purchase ZERO Sievert in Early Access on Steam.
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[Reviewed on PC]