No Way to Die: Survival is far from the worst crafting survival game on Google Play. That’s about as backhanded as a compliment can get, so let me put it another way. There are two kinds of mobile developers: people who make games and people who turn everything it a slot machine. No Way to Die feels like it was made by the former, even if it isn’t quite a paragon of design philosophy and monetization policy.
Developed by Belarussian studio OpenMyGame, No Way to Die takes place several years after a meteor impact destroyed most of human civilization. Players are awakened from stasis by their bunker’s AI, who sends them to scout the surrounding area. Players soon learn that the asteroid deposited a crystalline alien organism. The organism has fused with many of the surviving animals and people, mutating them into Symbiotes. Early game enemies are little more than shambling zombies but get more dangerous as the mutations get more radical. These include hulking monstrosities, sprinting ambush predators, exploding zombies, and enemies that shoot spikes from their hands. The game also has various mutated and unmutated animals, which players can hunt for meat or pelts. Just remember that some of them are hunting you too.
Speaking of vicious monsters, No Way to Die also has a multiplayer component. You’ll periodically run into other players while exploring the world. Some will try and attack you, but most I encountered seem content to live and let live. I suppose there are already enough inhuman threats to worry about. Plus, you never know who’s randomly stumbled across a Desert Eagle in an abandoned tent. Although it’s an okay system, I would have liked to see more ways to interact with other players. The ability to trade or even team up would have been greatly appreciated.
Alone in the Wilds
On the topic of exploration, No Way to Die has multiple sandbox zones that fall into three broad categories. First are the maps with some level procedural generation. The forest area, for example, always has a road on the south side of the map. However, the specific distribution of resources might be different each visit. These are also the only areas where you might encounter other players. The game also has fixed areas that reset every day, like the gas station. These always have the same layout and enemies and mostly the same items and materials. Last are what I call event areas. These procedurally generated levels appear at random and usually disappear after about 15 to 20 minutes.
Once again, this is an area where No Way to Die manages but doesn’t excel. There are ten zones in all, but none are large or diverse enough to stay interesting for long. OpenMyGame says it plans to add more areas, but I’m not sure that will completely solve the problem. The more significant issue is that traveling between two regions takes 20-40 minutes in real-time. Players can speed it up by spending energy. However, you spend a lot of time carrying crafting materials back to base, so energy drains pretty fast. It also refills at a glacial pace. Players can buy more energy with real money or recharge by watching ads. However, the game only allows you to watch so many per day. This puts a soft cap on how much players can accomplish in one sitting.
The main purpose of exploration is to find materials for crafting. The player can unlock around 117 recipes throughout the game. You’ll start by tying sharp rocks to a bit of wood. Slowly, you’ll work your way up to assembling complex electronics and light machine guns. Some of these late-game devices seem a little too complicated for one person to create from raw materials. Still, that’s an acceptable break from reality in games like this. I’m less impressed with the base building options, which are limited in form and function. OpenMyGame also really needs to add some way of producing your own food and water. That would go a long way to making scavenging less tedious.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy No Way to Die. It’s satisfying to stumble across a rare item or complete a big crafting project. However, the survival aspects quickly slip from challenging to tedious, and travel times make it substantially worse. Still, I can tell it’s a game someone cared about, and it shows real potential. No Way to Die: Survival is a game that needs expansion more than alteration, and I hope OpenMyGame continues to develop it actively.
Is It Hardcore?
No Way to Die: Survival is a frequently fun but often tedious crafting survival game. It shows great potential for future expansion but needs more diverse content to keep it interesting long term.