- Release Date: 2011/10
- Publisher: 6 Waves
- Developer: 6 Waves
- Genre: Social Game
Zombie Island is something like a deck of cards that is made up of both ace and ass pieces. It remains to see whether its good cards can make remedy for the bad ones, finally making the game a passable at least. After a few hours’ play in it, I’d like to say that the game developers do succeed in playing a few beautiful hands with it before the dead-end.
Zombie Island opens with the story about a zombie harboring the wish to become a human with only one step before the dream comes true. Brief but intriguing, the back story simply stops there, leaving you in suspension wondering what’s happened next so as to lure you into gameplay. Clever move, doesn’t it? And with no more narration, tutorial-like training kicks off right away, displaying how zombies work and live in the island.
Training turns out short and clear: just clicking where the leading arrow points to, you know without effort the essence of the core gameplay from the two simple exemplary activities, that is, cutting stone and growing plants.
In the very beginning, you are given one stoneminer, one woodcutter and two cooks (all are zombies of course) to work for you. To summon them out of the tomb to work, you need to get each one a Brain, either from burying friends or via buying from the Market (meaning the shop). And different zombie workers take on their own activities: stoneminers clear rock piles to get stone, woodcutters hack trees to collect wood, and cooks make dishes if recipes are unlocked. As you level up, another three working types known as treasure hunter, brigade and guard will be unlocked as well at certain level.
Only if you provide what’s required to activate your zombie workers, all of them can be sent to tend their own business simultaneously. There is no other restrictions such as energy bar or health point etc. to force upon the gameplay a halt midway. That is not to say the game proceeds in fast pace. In fact, the workers are inefficient and collection time is long. And during hours’ play, I began to realize that all the animation, such as the repetitive walking back and forth after several strokes on rocks or trees designed in it, is simply a layer of wool pulled over your eyes, covering for the irritating duration.
Animation is fully designed in some aspects, such as at summon zombies crawling out the tomb and dressing themselves behind a curtain and while off duty the two cooks up-and-down in the see-saw, stoneminer rocking on a wooden horse, woodcutter couching in an armchair reading a book. All these are depicted with effort; yet it strikes me as misplaced effort. Just look at the tree or the stone pile that is hacked: it remains as it always is there, not diminishing at all. Instead of being cleared away finally, trees and stones stay.
The lack of animation is not even the key point in fact; rather another question incurred should be figured out first. The majority of the entire interface is covered by those trees and stone piles (of all sizes and shapes, indicating different amounts of potential yield) to hack for resources, leaving not much vacant space for you to dig beds to grow plants and set up the various buildings. mind you, both planting and building(which will be discussed in the following) play no less important role in the game, if put mildly. Since the tree and rock stays, collectable without limit, what is the point of cramming the island with so many that most of them will not even be touched for once but only be a waste of space?
While your workers are busy, the zombie avatar representing you in the game is not idle either, for the work of storing resources, growing plants and building constructions is all left to your own hands.
Growing plants takes a few steps: select an empty patch to plow it, buy seeds from market and sow them on the beds, and then wait for them to ripen and harvest. A few quick clicks will do. But don’t be glad too early, for the ripening time is as long as the planting phase is short. Browsing the plant list, I helplessly found that the among all 26 types of plants, Clover (the most basic in the lowest level) takes even one hour to mature while the rarest flora needs one whole day. Since plants are indispensable to unlock recipes, without them the cook simply can not make dishes, which are in turn necessary materials in the construction part.
11 types of building are available in the market, but locked to certain levels. These buildings are for creating specific items using resources collected and stored before, such as Mill in Lv 9 to make cement and boards, Zombie Box to produce fertilizer for plants, and Lighthouse to create red paint, cables and buckets, just to name a few. If you want to unlock them before you reach the required level, the only way is to pay for Zombucks, in-game premium currency purchased for facebook credits or real money. In fact, you will finally have to pay to unlock, otherwise you are stuck in low-level. I know that as early as when building the first building, a Crypt used to create green paint and tubes.
Building structures also requires going through several stages, three for the lowest leveled Crypt. Each stage demands several specific items, including both basic resources and advanced materials created out in certain buildings. While wood, stones and coins can be easily got, the required board at Stage 2 and the metal and cement at Stage 3 (available if you have unlocked the Lv 9Mill) can only be bought (if you can’t get them from friends) for Zombucks. Please remember, it’s your first building.
The high yet indirect demand on money in fact also makes sense the existence of that many useless trees and rocks: limited space calls for Expansion, which can only be bought too. Two modes of expansion are on offer, e.g. Behind the Fence and Mountain Top, quite accurately matching the spread of the more spacious open field, open only to paid-players.
Finally I’d like to mention some lesser parts, some good and others bad.
Zombie Island is almost centered on the Market where seeds, buildings, worker zombies and decorations, etc are provided in rich variety to support the core gameplay. And the in-game graphics are also artistically pleasing to eyes, with trees and rocks (although in irrationally great number) depicted with different shades and zombies with adorable and funny looks. Yet the interface occurs to me sort-of out of balance: for the icons and bars on top and below are oversized even to block a large part of the map and sometimes the animation of in-game avatars. Also, Opps signaling connection error pops up a little bit too frequent, requiring restart of the game.
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