Have you ever thought to yourself, I’d like to play a game like Stardew Valley, with cute retro-graphics, upbeat music, fun NPCs, and a farm that I can build and upgrade as I like—but I’d also like to wade through the clammy guts of the undead hordes as I blast them into sticky chunks with an arsenal of explosive firepower? I can’t guarantee that Zelter will deliver that exact experience, but it sure looks like it might.
At its core, Zelter sounds like a familiar sort of experience: You’ll craft weapons, reinforce your defensive fortifications, scavenge for supplies, and rescue friendly NPCs. Sooner or later, though, the zombie apocalypse will arrive, and then it’s time for a fight. But then it’s back to the ranch to do some crafting, plant some crops, and hang out with your friends, and even your cat.
It’s all very cute, but that’s not to say that this isn’t a real undead crisis, with attendant moments of pragmatism: Those NPC pals you rescue won’t just help you in battle—”It’s always good to have extra bait to distract the undead,” developer G1 Playground said.
Zelter launched into Steam Early Access today, following a successful Kickstarter campaign (under the slightly different name Zhelter) that concluded earlier this year. Reaction so far is mixed: Steam user reviews indicate that it’s got some pretty rough edges, but the developer acknowledges essentially the same thing in the Early Access FAQ, saying that “the gameplay basics are mostly finished” and that it expects the game will stay in Early Access for a year. You can find out more about Zelter at playzelter.com.