First Impressions

Chromosome Evil 2

Developer16 Bit Nights

Release Date23 November, 2023 (EA)

Platform: Windows

Genre: Real-time Tactical

By Chris Picone, 13 December 2023


I've long been a fan of 16 Bit Nights' work.  Flesh Eaters had me totally hooked as a sort of roguelike zombie survival game and Chromosome Evil took that concept to a whole other level, adding a psychological horror story, turning the original idea into a campaign.  Chromosome Evil 2 builds on that again.  It's a squad-based tactical game at heart - a new campaign, a new story, and a whole range of new mechanics and features that add greater complexity to the game's survival roots.  It's also played out in real-time and the stakes are very high, which makes for an intense experience.

If you're a fan of squad-based tactical games and haven't played Chromosome Evil or Flesh Eaters, you really should.  Even without the survival elements and the story, Chromosome Evil is a high quality tactical game.  Each mission sees you facing new objectives - one of the more common mission types is a raid, where you sneak into some abandoned building and try to salvage as much as you can (ammunition, food supplies, tools).  But of course the zombies will find you eventually.  And they're attracted to noise to the more you fight them off, the more will come, and eventually you will be overwhelmed.  You can swap from quiet melee weapons to automatic rifles, which might fend them off for a while but will only attract even greater numbers.  Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses which you'll need to maximise. It's worth having a dedicated tank to defend you while having a nimble scavenger scouring for resources, and at time you will need specialists to repair generators or vehicles or operate other machinery.  Scavenging is a game of "Greedy Pig."  You need to make every second count, collect every precious resource you can, but if you get greedy and wait even a few seconds too long, it's game over.  But if you escape too early, you might run out of ammunition or fuel or resources for crafting and it's game over anyway.  Chromosome Evil can be an unforgiving game, not for the faint of heart, but that makes every success feel that much more rewarding. 

If you have played the original Chromosome evil, the sequel has a much larger scope, leading to a much more complex experience while remaining true to its core experience.  Instead of being a small squad-based adventure, you're now wielding much larger teams across multiple vehicles, with research labs, workshops, medical & training facilities. even a new global map with multiple critical path choices leading to a variety of possible endings.  There have been a few changes mechanically, also.  Stealth has always been important but it's more important than ever in CE2, and you will also have to engage in scouting as well as salvage and rescue missions.  I haven't talked much about the story because I don't want to give away any spoilers but there's more than just zombies in this one; the organism is evolving.  The actual writing does need some work at the moment but the game's still in EA and the developer plans to have that sorted prior to full release (along with the as-yet-unreleased chapter 4).

The verdict?  Chromosome Evil 2 is both an intense squad-based tactical game, and great survival/resource management game rolled into one awesome package.  It nails the horror vibe and has a great little story to carry you through the action.  I've got to say this one probably isn't very casual-friendly but hardcore tactical gamers will love it.