First impressions, what was bad
Hi, I downloaded the demo from Steam today and liked the game in general. Especially cool is its basic idea: survival in post-apocalyptic world. As a fan of Fallout 1 and 2, Silent Hill, Resident Evil games and The Walking Dead series as well as many similar movies, I really enjoy the setting and the premise of this game. I also very much like that it's very difficult and that you can't reload - dead means game over, and that's cool.
Now, the bad stuff I faced during the first 1 or 2 hours playing and which will prevent me from buying the full version:
1. Too little info about everything. I mean, in general. Sure, it's a hardcore (even ultra-hardcore) game but this doesn't really make it necessary for the game to be cryptic at start. Just please invest some of your dev time to create a proper tutorial. Or at least some plain text pages explaining all the stuff in detail. I know it's boring to implement a tutorial but please do it. Your sales will go up, as I suppose you are losing may potential buyers.
2. No data about odds of how successful an action can be, how much damage it may inflict etc etc - in combat. Which makes the whole combat a pointless experience for the beginner. My first turn ended with a combat against a raider. First of all I was wondering why at all the guy would attack me and if there were a way to talk to him first. I didn't find any such buttons except plain "escape". Ok, in this game all humans are hostile to you? That's all unclear and actually is counter-intuitive and thus really annoying. At least the raider could say something like "I'll kill you and take your clothes" to indicate to the player that no diplomacy is possible. Then, the combat starts and I have no idea what every choice does (I mean, in numbers), even about the basic mechanics of combat. Are the actions evaluated simultaneously? Or in turns? If in turns, there must be a delay while the enemy does his actions. Then, after many blows have been exchanged, I started to wonder how many HP are left (are there any HP?) when will this all end, why the enemy doesn't use his rifle (the sprite of the raider has a rifle - apparently he had a black bottle - as I learnt in second game session, though I'm still not sure - the name of the weapon wasn't indicative enough). I had no idea if I was winning or losing. It wasn't clear if "whipped" is more or less than "step" (or some other word - made no sense to me, though I looked into a dictionary, my English must not be good enough). Anyway, at some point the raider finally fractures my ribs, I lose consciousness and then I basically can do nothing and after a few useless turns I die. Oh was that the pumkinheads? Nvm. Ah yeah, I did run away that time I guess but then the somethingheads attacked me and killed me from a few blows.
Second playing session - this time I escaped all combats (always succeed though the tooltip says there is a chance that this will fail?) until finally I met a guy with "punch" as weapon (no weapons?). Since I had a multi-functional knife I decided now I have an advantage and after an exchange of blows I bleed out and died again. Maybe it was a wrong choice to pick all those "intelligent" perks like "electrican" and "medic". The vent shaft rewarded me with just another useless recipe...
So, all in all, it's useless if you tell the player "you have a chance to knock the enemy down". What chance? Is it 20%? 1%? 98%? No meaningful strategy or tactics can be used if no information is available. I guess that the way you wanted to make the game harder - force the player to start from scratch again and again so as to learn a bit more at the end of the next unsuccessful session. To me this is rather pointless. I'd prefer informative tooltips with exact stats and success percentages. I play mage class in RPGs. Or maybe you could at least present the exact percentages after the player has used the ability a few times (imitate "learning")? Not sure if this would make sense though..
3. Inventory and recipe management. I even read on this website that managing the inventory is a part of the challenge (or just a part of the game). This is wrong approach totally. Just check ArkInventory add-on to World of Warcraft for an excellent example of how bags should work. Auto-sorting into categories, almost everything automated. But here I seem some Ultima-style nested bags system... Sure, the button to auto-arrange stuff is helpful but it's not enough.. I'd even suggest to replace the whole system of slots inside bags with just the total weight of stuff (and present all items as a sorted list or something). See A.D.O.M as example. But you as the designer surely know better, it's just my first impression..
Oh, and the recipes. I suppose there is no list of know recipes somewhere? And if you put an item into the crafting window there are no suggestions for the stuff that can be crafted from it? (based on the list of known recipes) That means that I'd need to keep mousing over all those recipe sheets (having unstacked all of them first) and then see if I have mats for anything. Well... That's really not fun at all! See Guild Wars 2 for a great system of crafting... I'm surely not asking that you compete with these behemoths of gaming but at least that's the direction to look at :)
Apart from these things, I really liked the game. I'd give it 8 out of 10.
The writing is excellent. The game got me engaged instantly, the overall feeling of immersion persisted throughout. The shopping cart was really an amazing item in the game - so atmospheric!
The graphics are pretty shabby but I actually liked that :) It's just that you might wish to not mention the graphics as the advantage of the game in the marketing text on the front page :) If you had more budget, adding some better graphics (maybe on the level of Fallout 2) would certainly not hurt.
I'll surely try this game more times.