tl;dr -> Survivor 1 was racist against Asians, I had 3 in my squad of 5, so I sent him out to die while scouting a bank. Everyone else was happy, but eventually starved to death after a few weeks because I was intent on upgrading/modifying all the items in my warehouse instead of scouting. 11/10 realistic simulator.
I got this game in a bundle and was very excited to try it because I've played countless zombie games on gaming websites like Kongregate and Newgrounds. I was very satisfied with my experience.
If you like text-based games, the zombie post-apocalypse theme, and crafting/strategy-based gameplay, then you will enjoy this game.
The aesthetics are good, there are pictures of items you find and the delivery of the gameplay is very nice - given in the form of a journal with text/picture entries. The game is solely text-based, so do not play this if you do not like reading (or this genre). There are 3 game modes, one of which is endless (easy). The randomized character backgrounds and random events are well-done, however, one complaint I have is the very (seemingly) arbitrary way the character relationships is determined. More on this later.
The controls are simple and there is a brief tutorial to show you how to play. The learning curve is minimal to moderate depending on your experience with survival strategy games. The most challenging aspect of the game is balancing your actions (scout, search, fortify, etc) properly to maximize your chances for survival. You can modify a few elements like how often resource-generating buildings appear and whether or not characters can get injured from in-group fighting.
The gameplay consists of performing specific actions every hour (equivalent of one turn). Actions include fortifying the building you are in, searching for items, building traps, etc. You can further specify the actions by clicking on keywords that are highlighted in green - for example, you can specify an order to build "traps," "experimental traps" (indoor), or outdoor traps. Certain actions generate noise that will draw in progressively larger groups of zombies. You can counteract this by sending survivors out to patrol, or by sniping surrounding zombies (trade-off is your use of ammo and potentially drawing in more zombies). If the building you are in gets completely surrounded, your characters will be severely restricted in the actions they can do. During the night, visibility is lowered and overall danger is increased.
You can either start with 1 survivor (easy mode) or 5, however, you can only gain new members in easy mode (which is also endless mode). The survivors will have randomized stats - these are given no numerical value. Stats include social economic status (poor, middle-class, rich), job, overall personality traits, and proficiency in actions (better at cooking, scouting, etc). All characters will also have a negative attribute, such as racism or distrust of the opposite sex. You can try to mitigate this by spreading rumors - one each day, and only one of each type. Rumors can be things like a cousin relationship between two characters or a charitable act for certain people. Rumors act as a double-edged sword - it will usually increase the relationship between the associated characters, however, it can also polarize survivors that do not like the associated characters (causing them to like each other even less). The relationship mechanic is crucial to survival because characters in conflict will argue and fight - dropping the overall morale of the group and potentially injuring people. Actions are also completed significantly slower when characters in conflict are near each other, so a good idea is to send polarized characters to different areas (or even sacrificing problem survivors). You can increase relationships by having feasts, but this requires a lot of food and will draw in zombies.
There is a randomized map with different structures in the city to explore. Special buildings yield bonuses like increased security (banks) and better loot/modifying (warehouses). Once you fully secure a building, you can further fortify it - eventually adding things like watchtowers, fences, and sniper posts. Fortifying takes a significant amount of time and will most likely attract larger groups of zombies. A downside of securing/fortifying a building is going back inside it - you will always need a survivor inside to let others in. If you leave a secured/fortified building with no one inside, you will have to break back in, however, there will never be zombies within. A good idea is to at least secure a few safehouses before proceeding to fortify.
There are different approaches you can take when playing this game, adding a decent amount of replayability. Overall, if you enjoy this genre, then you should really give Zafehouse a try.
DJSF @DJSF's Rogue Reviews