Ground Zero

Player Rating6.88/8

"#11 overall, #2 for 2007"
based on 12341 ratings since 10/07/2007
played 267,852 times (finished 17,374)

Story Difficulty8/8

"mosie through a minefield"

Play Length8/8

"Even light has to break at the rest stop"

Maturity Level7/8

"anything goes"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 18. If this were a movie, it would probably be R.

If you see a bright light, duck and cover!

Additional notes:

I should point out that this story can be very long assuming you're not dying. Years pass and your surroundings will most likely change. You may very well live a life time in the story if you're lucky. You will also experience a completely different adventure depending on how you escaped the initial nuclear strike. (Assuming you do survive it.)

As with any of my writings, the "story" comes before the "game". However, this story was written in a "game like" format. So while there isn't a complex inventory and all of that, you can technically "win" by getting one of the 4 special endings. (You'll know if you get one because you'll get an epilogue)

Player Comments

I've made it no secret on this site in my earlier years that I absolutely love this story. But back then I didn't look at things critically, if I liked something then it was perfect and anyone who shit on it was a fuckwit, so last night I decided to read through the four (well, five counting an unofficial one) major paths and see if my nostalgia held up. I've gotta say, it does.

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS A BUNCH OF SPOILERS

Let's start with the writing and the story. I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic games, and this doesn't disappoint with its tale of the story of one man and his life after nuclear detonation. Depending on just a single choice (which branches out into another choice depending on what you choose, but still), you can take five different paths to five wildly different endings, and all the other endings on the way. Par the course, there's a few typos and grammar mistakes, but those don't really affect the overall quality of the story.

Aside from the minor errors, the writing is top notch and has a unique flare in its visceral style. EndMaster knows how to write extremely well without sounding like a snobby scholar-type, but rather like a regular old Joe that just so happened to major in creative writing. I especially liked the hints to the other paths you could've taken, IE mentions of the Combine in the public shelter, mutant, and Wasteland Bastard paths, when one path has you join what would eventually become the Combine (and being able to squash the Combine before they have the chance to become the tyrants they are), while the unofficial 'Wasteland Bastard' path ends with you finding a way into an unused private shelter when, if you read through a small branch early on in the path, you would've discovered it belonged to a family you meet (whereas you killed them before they could tell you in the main path).

I touched on it above but didn't really dig too deep into it, but this story has so many branches it puts a redwood to shame. Tons of choices, tons of branches, (be they quick 'you chose the wrong choice, time to die' or 'continue your story for quite a bit longer') and I enjoyed the fact that not all the choices that lead to an end game link on the next page are deaths and give a sense of the adventure continuing after that. One thing I will say is that I was disappointed in the lack of a 'road warrior' path, that is being an unaffiliated wandering adventurer, and the lack of a path which allowed you to join the cyborg faction whose name escapes me at the moment. Still, the paths provided were pretty damn sweet, so these are more things I would've liked to see than things that the game needs.

And now, gushing time.

Dude, wasn't it sweet when you just shoot that bastard Elliot in the public shelter path? Just be like, "fuck you motherfucker, you ain't gonna do some dystopia shit on my watch!"
Man, it was so fucking cool when you throw Owen off the roof when you meet him again in the mutant path, haha, that's what you get for going insane because I threw you out of your shelter you fucktard!
Wasn't it the bomb when you killed that bastard Alex in the soldier path? I made the mistake of forgiving you once shitlicker, I ain't forgiving you again!

And now here are my favorite paths:

3. Private Shelter path (I'm a sucker for human-robot/AI romances, and this one didn't disappoint. Plus it proves End can still do a compelling story without including a shitload of characters. The branch where you interact with the other people in the shelters also proved to be an interesting little character-driven thriller, which mostly took place across computer screens, which is also a telling achievement of his storytelling ability)
2. Soldier path (IMHO the 'best' path for the story, as you squash the Combine and the cyborg peeps without them getting the chance to get too bad, you restore a sense of order and government to the wasteland, and the epilogue featuring your descendant telling a story about your exploits in a bar was perfect)
1. Wasteland Bastard (Oh. My. God. This is the cruelest, most demented, and sickening path in the story... And I LOVE IT. You REALLY get to feel like a depraved bastard in this path, and then you have it all catch up to you and, depending on your interpretation, kill yourself out of guilt or be killed by a mutant bounty hunter. In the end it shows that you, the player, did this just to see how fucked up you could get, and that's exactly the same reason the protagonist did it)

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So, in the end, is it the flawless masterwork I thought it was? No. But overall, this story, though flawed, is still a masterpiece of interactive fiction and my favorite story out of all of EndMaster's works. Forever and always, this will be an 8/8 for me.
-- Chris113022 on 2/19/2018 11:25:18 PM
First playthrough was quite enjoyable. The choices in Ground Zero are weighted much more than most games, and the copious branching paths have made replaying it irresistible. I love the influences from Fallout and the general plausibility of the story. As for the role we assume at the center of this game, I appreciated the personality itself but longed for more choice in whether to be antisocial or more receptive of others. Overall, Ground Zero is a complete game. It's writing, especially the introduction and various endings, blend a serious tone without sacrificing reader enjoyment. There are just the right amount of questions left unanswered, and this provokes the imagination to complete the tale. More than worthy of everyone's time and appreciation, this is a story game of rare, high quality.
-- Akatosh on 1/3/2016 3:25:06 PM
The last time I left a comment on Ground Zero was a very long time ago. At that time I had only played through this storygame once, and whilst I hadn't died immediately, I wasn't exactly close to getting an epilogue. To paraphrase myself in this comment, I said that I would have liked more choice in the protagonist's actions. Looking back, I see that not only was I being unfair, but I didn't understand at all what makes this game great.

Since then, I have played through every page and discovered all the wonder and intrigue this deep, rich world has to offer. As is often the case with EndMaster's stories, it is the characters and plot which are most memorable. It is amazingly satisfying to see how your choices affect not only your own character, but other characters and even the world around you, in believable, really interesting ways. Not only that, but I was treated to a whole giant spider-web of such delicious stories, branching off in many directions, even when you think you've finished it all. Not one of these tales, on any page, did I find boring or dull. All the endings were a fun read and the epilogues provided good closure, with (most of them) giving us a glimpse into the life of your descendants. In this aspect - this incredible use of interactive fiction in its most basic form - Ground Zero is second only to Eternal.

I always find it strange when people complain about the linearity or lack of choices in an EndMaster game. Do they even know what linearity means? This thing branches like a motherfucker; it's anything but linear. I concede that there are less choices insomuch as there are probably less combinations due to lack of variables and scripting, but when you have such story-driven and meaningful choices that completely change the direction of the plot, the choices in Ground Zero are better, I would say. Yes, it means you don't control your character as much, but the protagonist is a (metaphorically) real person with his own opinions, feelings and motives. It allows for a much more complex and fascinating main character than if the player could decide every single little action.

Thank you, EndMaster, for writing such an epic tale that kept me entertained for hours on end. It was one of the first storygames I played on this website and it certainly left a fantastic impression. If it wasn't for Ground Zero, I might not have stuck around on CYS. Thank Dendrin I din't stumble upon Warrior Cats fanfic before reading this beauty.
-- 31TeV on 10/19/2014 12:06:28 PM
awesome
-- bro on 9/14/2018 8:24:18 AM
A super game
-- Mahself on 9/14/2018 8:24:03 AM
very nice
-- max on 9/14/2018 8:23:37 AM
Good stuff
-- Jraven on 9/1/2018 9:44:00 AM
Pretty good story! Will have to play through a couple more branches.
-- Shane on 8/30/2018 11:38:59 AM
so many paths, almost all of them well made.
i got epilogue 2 and while it was a hell of a ride, i'm proud of what i've done.
-- FlavorTown on 8/15/2018 7:12:07 PM
GG. Got the good ending AKA kill the hacker and go to the girls vault to rescue her
-- 3DogF3 on 6/30/2018 9:20:54 AM
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