Infected: Reviewer Copy
Over the past few days I've seen some previews for Immersion RPG's upcoming Infected RPG, set in a world crawling its way out of a zombie apocalypse. Now to be honest, their website does have an amusingly bold declaration: " We are a pen and paper Role Playing Game company in the final stages of creating the most exciting system and settings you’ve ever played."
Their starting RPG, Infected, is due to launch on Kickstarter in about a week. To be honest, it was the artwork that first caught my eye, being strongly reminiscent of the Playstation game The Last of Us.
From reading the reviewer/preview copy at their website, I see Infected takes place a few years after the outbreak of a zombie epidemic. It started with a kind of superflu which put people into a coma that slowly slid towards death - a coma they sometimes "recovered" from as zombies. It's a bit of a change from the infection vectors in The Walking Dead by making it more of a virus. Now a bite (exchange of bodily fluids) is a great way to get the virus, but not the only way.
The game is set some years after the outbreak. Civilization is not doing all that well, with a huge percentage of the population dead, nations fallen, nukes used to wipe out zombie infestations, etc. The zombies still exist and are a threat but other humans fighting for scant resources are probably the bigger threat.
The system I saw from the preview is pretty straightforward - it uses attributes and skills for task resolution. Unlike most games you roll twice - once testing the attribute and once the skill. You see how much you beat each target (if you beat them) and combine the results for your overall success level.
What I rather liked is the variety in the infected zombies - there's typical hunters, really bloated ones leaking pus, one's that can mimic humans, and, most interesting, alphas, which function as pack leaders and have a sort of cunning that most lack.
The preview copy is a very attractive product. I think the editing needs to be tightened a bit - for example the combat section starts with Step 1 - Roll initiative and continues to Step 3 - Roll to defend. I can infer the attack roll is missing but it's a bit of a nasty omission. It's a preview copy so it's certainly fixable, but it did stick out a bit. [Note - and in reaction to this they have gone ahead and corrected this - yay!!! Like I said, this isn't the finished product - I've read early editions with markups like <h1> and Infected is well beyond that.]
That said, the setting really shined. It's hard to make a zombie apocalypse setting stand out and I think this one does nicely. I see echoes, whether intentional or not, of a number of properties I rather enjoy - The Last of Us is an obvious one, but I also get vibes of Justin Cronin's The Passage and even a little bit of Stephen King's The Stand. It's an evocative setting, with images of "green zones" clinging to some semblance of safety while dealing both with the infected and with other humans.
It's definitely worth a look and the preview is available at their website. I can definitely see backing this Kickstarter. Well unless the pdf-only goes for $100 and a physical product costs another $100. That might be tough to justify to Mrs. Stack...