This whole paid alpha trend is kind of neat. Game developers get direct funding from the community, while players get their hands on early builds. Steam's Early Access program is devoted to these kinds of projects, and it just gained a couple of interesting entries. The first is the standalone version of DayZ, the zombie-infused survival game based on the popular ArmA mod. Trailer time!
Well, that was dramatic.
DayZ is very much a work in progress, and the developer said in a forum post that "buying early will be a recipe for disappointment." The alpha build is only for hardcore fans who want a "very barebones experience that is a platform for future development." The Steam page even has an all-caps warning players to be prepared to handle "serious issues and possible interruptions of game functioning." So, yeah, maybe give it a pass for now unless you really liked the original.
The developer suggests that folks with more casual interest revisit the game in a few months. Sounds like it could take three to six months for DayZ to morph into something resembling an actual game.
The second notable addition to Early Access is Overgrowth, a third-person fighting game with intriguing physics. The following trailer describes what's included in the current alpha.
I'm not sure I get the whole rabbit angle, but the combat system has potential. You can see more furry violence in the videos posted on the developer's site.
Overgrowth comes with an editor, and there's a lot of community-generated content already. Of course, the game has been in development since 2008, and it was in a paid alpha state long before coming to Early Access. Eager modders have had plenty of time to play around with the tools.
DayZ and Overgrowth are both priced at $30, but there's a $5 discount on the latter, which looks to have more of the gameplay mechanics in place. Overgrowth is also available for Linux, so it should work with SteamOS. Thanks to longtime TR reader Edward for the tip.