Expedition Zero PC Review

If you are willing to deal with the technical issues and insanely aggressive monster AI Expedition Zero will give you that gripping and intense feeling only horror games can deliver.

By Grayshadow, Posted 25 Mar 2022

Expedition Zero dumps you into a cold unforgiving environment and tells you to survive. The bare minimum is provided with much of the game's systems solely dependent on how much the player is willing to invest into learning them. All while a deadly monster hunts you in the background and the chilling air quickly freezes you. Expedition Zero will knock you down, throw dirt in your eye, and expect you to get up and try again only to knock you down again.
 


 

The opening section of Expedition Zero will set the pace of whether this is the game for you. The protagonist is attempting to escape an anomaly zone full of monsters and infected but cannot since the area is walled off. A person of interest is willing to help but at a price, you must collect samples for him from a dangerous beast that killed many soldiers. Without any other options, you agree and head out it's here where Expedition Zero bares its teeth.

You are given no direction other than a device that detects signals leading you to these samples and must craft items to ensure your survival. Death is shown to be everywhere because you cannot heal from resting and you'll constantly lose heat due to the sheer cold. Adding to the madness is enemies respawn after traveling but resources do not and artificially created sources of heat are temporary. 

Expedition Zero does succeed greatly in its presentation and atmosphere. The use of fog, amber light in the rain, soft dirt under your feet, and the horrible screams of the creature all create this sense of dread. The damp forest evokes feelings of wonder about what could be out there, preying on your fear of being isolated and not knowing. It's strange that the lighting for everything except the fire is well done, fires are often depicted as being unable to light entire closed rooms.

The monster itself is incredibly designed, like a combination of a hag and demon. The first time you see this monster its horrifying look will have your heart skipping a beat. This coupled with the excellent sound design of the creature and its otherworldly abilities will make the already frigid environment that much colder. Despite the excellent visual and sound design, the game's gameplay will turn many away.
 

Expedition Zero, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Survival Horror, tinyBuild, NoobFeed, Enigmatic Machines
 

Motion is very stiff, your character moves like an 80-year man and can only sprint for a few seconds. It's incredibly vexing to deal with as your character moves at an inhumanly slow pace that can barely match an infant's gait. This wouldn't be such an extreme problem if the creature that hunts you wasn't so exceptionally fast and capable of teleporting. The monster that tracks you is nimble and can move with remarkable speed, even tossing toxic clouds that quickly drain your health within seconds or grip you with its tongue for massive damage. Along with this, it causes distortions that limit your vision causing more irritation.

At first, hearing this creature shrieks coming from the forest is thrilling and fearful but it eventually becomes vexing due to all the limitations placed on the player and little options for defense. You cannot move that fast so running is out of the question and shooting is barely effective as the creature returns within seconds. It's awfully balanced and the creature is way too aggressive. That seems like an oxymoron but when inside a shelter and heading to the basement for a key item the creature was still outside and never lost interest. Its tracking skills are so insanely strong that once it locates you attempting to escape is near impossible, to the point that you might as well load a previous save before the monster found you. My guess is AI was made this fierce on purpose since the zombified people who serve as the only other enemy are no challenge and can be easily beaten to death.
 

Expedition Zero, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Survival Horror, tinyBuild, NoobFeed, Enigmatic Machines
 

You're always venturing out for supplies since you'll have to craft a lot of useful items for survival. Since you cannot carry everything a sled is provided to store items when heading out. Printers craft items and also store items but each printer is individualized so you can craft the selection offered and items will not transfer between them. Items are found from broken objects and caches, with the inventory operating like Resident Evil 4's system with tiles serving as how much space you have. You'll have to balance crafting materials along with healing supplies and even wood to create fire sources.

Your environment suit serves as your primary tool. The suit is electrically charged and uses power for everything you craft and equip, but you cannot fit everything. For example, you can equip a headlamp and a gas mask, and other slots are dedicated for other pieces of gear with similar rules. Thankfully charging stations are mostly everywhere but you'll still need to properly manage it as without power you'll be walking around in the dark and will get colder much faster. Storage batteries are available for 1-time use in case you find yourself in a dire situation.

As for combat, you have access to a gun, crowbar, and ax. The ax serves not only as a weapon but chopping wood, which cannot be used for fire until turned into slimmer pieces at logging areas. Combat is mostly a novelty since the infected can be easily killed using the melee weapons or avoided since they move slower than you and only attack if you get directly in front of them. You can shoot the creature hunting you but as I stated, it barely does anything.
 

Expedition Zero, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Survival Horror, tinyBuild, NoobFeed, Enigmatic Machines
 

There are many many technical problems that need addressing. At times the heating gauge would refuse to fill despite being next to a fire, the protagonist won't take out items when pressing a hotkey, getting stuck in the game's geometry happens a lot when getting inside broken sheds and cargo containers, and being unable to reload your gun are the major ones I encountered. The problems would sometimes fix themselves after a few moments of aggressively pressing a button but when crafting this can lead to you making more than 1 of an item and wasting precious resources. The insanely aggressive creature AI doesn't help with its high damage output and Superman's levels of speed can lead to many moments of frustration.

There is no autosave and you can save at specific safe houses with beds. This adds to the challenge as you head out risking your progression and items if you decide to push forward or head back to save. This also highlights major issues with the game's difficulty as gas clouds are nearly invisible during the night. You cannot just sleep to wait for the day or for the weather to clear up which is strange. These clouds drain your health within seconds unless you equip a gas mask immediately. Unless you have the reaction of an eSports pro you're going to take a lot of damage and since healing items are extremely rare and you cannot recover any other way prepare for some heated moments of rage. Most importantly you can be instantly killed by the creature if it catches you. Not sure what triggers this but it happened several times where a cutscene plays and death follows.
 

Expedition Zero, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Survival Horror, tinyBuild, NoobFeed, Enigmatic Machines
 

Expedition Zero is a tough journey through horrible conditions that can often feel one-sided. On the surface, it seems like a great horror adventure but that tone will change after your first instant death. It quickly becomes apparent that the intensity is not due to the survival system or being hunted but by the artificial ordeal that pushes you back for things outside your control. The monster's insane level of mobility and precision is the biggest hurdle especially when an instant death is triggered. If you are willing to deal with the technical issues and insanely aggressive monster AI Expedition Zero will give you that gripping and intense feeling only horror games can deliver.
 

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): tinyBuild
Developer(s): Enigmatic Machines
Genres: Survival Horror
Themes: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2022-03-24

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