04/25/2019 02:52 pm EDT
Asmodee Digital released its streamlined version of Zombicide for iOS and Android devices earlier this week, bringing the popular zombie-killing boardgame franchise to a whole new platform. Zombicide was originally developed by Guillotine Games and published by CMON back in 2015 and was popular enough to justify multiple expansions and a medieval-themed spinoff game, Zombicide: Black Plague. The game centered around players facing constant waves of zombies as they marched through a board, completing objectives as they went. Players could unlock additional abilities for their characters by killing zombies and increasing their danger level. While increasing a danger level had its benefits, it would also increase the number of zombies that appeared on the board as well as their abilities, adding more danger with every round.
The Zombicide app stays true to the original board game with a few exceptions. The game's core "take three actions per turn" mechanic remains intact from the board game, but the danger level that determines the ability of the characters and strength of the zombies is now tied to a team's overall body count instead of to individual characters. The change is likely because the Zombicide app is a single player game, so it doesn't make as much sense for a player to balance four separate danger levels during every mission. In addition, players can permanently level up their characters as the game progresses, giving them more powerful abilities and weapons that unlock when a certain danger level is reached. Players are still incentivized for exploring and grabbing items, as running through the missions is the only way to grab new and more powerful weapons.
By adapting Zombicide into a single player RPG, Asmodee Digital actually solved most of my major complaints with the original board game. You won't have to deal with the zombies suddenly getting harder when a certain player reaches a higher Danger Level than the rest of the party, and I like the mix of leveling up characters and unlocking abilities. The gameplay moves quickly, but individual missions can get a bit repetitive. While the story is compelling, the missions mostly boil down to killing a certain number of zombies and reaching certain tiles on the board.
My main complaint with Zombicide is that there's no incentive, at least through the first three chapters of the game, to really mix up your strategy on individual missions. While players have four different types of characters to choose from (each of which have different abilities and weapons), their versatility is a bit limited. Each mission seems to boil down to letting your Berserker and Hunter tear up approaching hordes of zombies with their guns and then letting the Scout and Assassin pick off any strays that threaten the major damage dealers. And because players have increased pools of health (you could only take two wounds in the original Zombicide game), you can usually come out of any scenario unscathed by slowly marching across the board and keeping your characters clustered together, thus robbing the game of any sort of stakes or real risk. Some missions increase the difficulty level by shrinking the number of characters in play at one time, but you can usually get away with the same strategy every single mission. I think by adding some sort of turn countdown, Zombicide would force players to think strategically rather than play it safe.
Zombicide is a fun (albeit repetitive) version of the board game and is an easy way to kill time while waiting for your next board game session. The game is available on the Apple and Google Play stores for $4.99. Characters from the various expansions can also be purchased for either $1.99 individually or $2.99 in bundles.
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