Cabo Studio, the developer of Zero Sievert, talks about a 2D shooter with extraction in the style of “Tarkov”
“I hope to make a more direct, accessible and less hardcore version of “Tarkov”, which will be able to offer the same sensations of entering, obtaining loot and exiting”
At first, it is difficult to take seriously the 2D extraction shooter Zero Sievert. You jump off your cute train with a cute gun to get cute loot for your adorable little mountain base. Then you are locked in a house and surrounded by ruthless, pixel-cute bandits.
Behind the charming aesthetics, Zero Sievert is as hard as a nail. While many games are currently trying to corner the loot—and-flight gameplay that made Escape From Tarkov a hit, Zero Sievert is one of the few that manages to bring this intense mix of fear and delight to the table. Tarkov’s influence is visible everywhere: the weapons are similar, but you are dragging yourself through the middle of the Russian wilderness.
Speaking to Luca Carbonera from Cabo Studio, the similarity is a design.
Carbonera says Escape From Tarkov was a “huge success” and describes the action shooter genre it spawned as “a breath of fresh air into the world of video games.” versions of Stalker, a game that Tarkov also calls a source of inspiration, he started adding more mechanics inspired by Tarkov.
“Tarkov offers a very hardcore experience that not all gamers are ready for,— says Carbonera. “It takes a very large initial investment of time to understand the basics of the game, and until then you will not be able to fully enjoy all that it has to offer.”
Enter Zero Sievert, which Carbonera hopes will provide “a more immediate, accessible, and less hardcore version of Tarkov that is capable of offering the same thrills of entering, getting loot, and exiting.”
The two-dimensional perspective of the game offers many new challenges, both from the point of view of the game and from the point of view of development. Instead of the typical first-person shooter perspective, which makes it easy to hide details that the player cannot see directly, here Carbonera implements the fog of war. “This fog of war gives a tactical meaning that most 2D shooters don’t have,” he explains.
However, despite all the changes, the real problem in Zero Sievert was getting the AI to work. “I have always attached great importance to AI, at the moment it can perform actions such as hiding, flanking the player, chasing the player based on the weapons he holds. These are very simple actions, but they really help to make the fights more dynamic and interesting.” adds Carbonera. “AI is complex and confusing, so it takes time to get back to it and make the appropriate changes.”
However, the biggest challenge is to entertain the players after they have completed the path from zero to hero. In Escape from Tarkov, most of the endgame experience involves throwing with other players, but Zero Sievert is a single—player game.
“If you look at Tarkov, most of the community plays until they pass all the merchant levels and complete the main quests,” Carbonera admits. “After that, they will close the game until the next vape.”
“Once a player has acquired better equipment, the game becomes easier, and you no longer have a sense of progress that pushes you to keep playing.”
Zero sieverts. Credit: Kabo Studio.
Zero sieverts. Credit: Kabo Studio.
“Now progress in Zero Sievert is going pretty fast. There are already mechanics that will be added to lengthen it a bit. However, I have to be very careful here, it’s not enough to just lengthen the progression and make it slower, it will make the game more boring and boring.”
Carbonera says his “ideal goal” is to give players a sense of progress with gear, which then leads to other options for long—term progress, such as upgrading their base, more challenging quests, or even relationships with other factions. Laughing, Carbonera admits that it’s “hard to get it right,” but says he’ll work with the community and listen to feedback.
This is not so bad for a game that started as a hobby project with no expectations, which, according to Carbonera, “wasn’t going very well” until a video from YouTuber SplatterCatGaming forced the campaign to reach its goal in 24 hours.
“That month after the Kickstarter campaign, I thought I was just really lucky, but when several publishers started contacting me, I realized that besides being lucky, I also have a potentially good game,” says Carbonera.
I have one last riddle. What’s wrong with the name of the game?
“I don’t remember exactly when I came up with the idea of the name,” Carbonera laughs. “The bunker is the main hub of the game, the player spends a lot of time there, so it should be a radiation—free zone. Sieverts measure radiation exposure and hence the name Zero Sievert. It’s very simple, but it stuck, and in the end I’m glad, because I really like it.”
The demo version of Zero Sievert is currently available for PC.