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Zelter is a survival game that looks like Stardew Valley meets The Walking Dead

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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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) (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 (opens in new tab).

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.