Defeat the horde, and leave your friends behind it's Zombies!!!
Android & iOS
# of Players
1 - 5
Before we dive in: This app has a major bug where it becomes unplayable after some amount of time. I played for a couple of weeks and then every time I started a new game, the app would freeze. There is an option to "Reset Data" in the options menu of the game, choosing this allows you to play again, but only after deleting all of your current games and forcing you to play through the tutorial again. This is very much an unacceptable solution in our book, hence the score for the app. However, we will provide our review based on the working version of the game in the hopes the crash issues get resolved in the future. This occurred on Android, we have no interest in buying this game for iOS to see how it fares there.
Zombies!!! is a competitive, zombie-killing, escape game. Players are dropped into a zombie-infested town and must explore and blast their way through hoards of zombies in order to find the elusive helipad or kill enough zombies along the way to earn victory. Players don’t directly fight one another, but rather control zombies and play event cards which can make life difficult for their opponents. A standard game typically lasts about 20-30 minutes if you choose to skip through opponent’s turns.
Depending on when you entered the hobby, Zombies!!! might be considered a classic or at least a classic gateway game. With the board game being released in 2001, it’s one of the older games to get the digital port treatment.
A turn in Zombies!!! has each player go through a series of simple actions. They begin by placing a new tile on the map to extend the playing area, this also involves adding zombies and bonuses (hearts and bullets) to the new tile. Players then must fight any zombie on their current space. If they win, they then draw cards to get back to three in their hand. Next, a die is rolled to determine how far the player can move on their turn. Players must stop and fight any zombies on spaces they move through. A loss in combat moves the player immediately back to the center of town and they lose half of their collected zombie kills. Players then roll another die to determine how many zombies they get to move, moving one space each. They then have the option to discard if they choose. Play continues until one player reaches 25 kills or finds himself on the center square of the helipad tile, which is at the bottom of the tile deck, in which case, they win the game.
Combat in Zombies!!! is resolved with a die roll. A four or greater means you have killed the zombie. A three or less means the zombie won and you must lost a heart token. However, you may use bullet tokens in order to increase the value of your roll by one. Hearts and bullets can be picked up throughout the map, with a limit of five hearts they can carry and no limit on bullets. Players may also play an event card during their turn. These cards can help players by providing bonuses or weapons. They can also allow you to manipulate zombies or pester your opponents.
Reading through the rundown of the game, it’s clear that luck plays a big factor in Zombies!!! Part of the reason that it is “only” a halfway classic, and honestly many new board gamers might have never heard of it, is that it is so random and luck-based. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it must be noted before heading into the game. Between all of the die rolls, the tile draws, and the difficulty in reaching 25 kills, the game will often be won not by the player who played the best game, but by the player who was in the right place at the right time. Having the 25 kills be a win condition is a nice touch, but given the setup of the combat, you will die in this game. When you do, you lose half of your kills which makes reaching 25 very difficult.
A typical game of Zombies!!! will have players wandering around for a while, collecting kills, getting killed, etc… until the helipad appears after the rest of the town tiles are played. At which point players will make a break for the exit and the real fun begins. This mad dash for the exit, and victory, shows the game’s true promise. Using event cards to make it tougher for your opponents and/or easier for you, while also weighing the decision between getting sidetracked for refills on hearts/bullets versus rushing towards the exit really let the game shine. Everything before that, unless you can get extremely lucky on a few counts to approach 25 kills, feels like setup for the main event. There is a lot of fun to be had in this last act of the game.
Zombies!!! is somewhat a relic of the past, a time before strategy board gaming really took off and players came to expect more strategy and less randomness. Zombies!!! is very enjoyable for what it is, but you have to know what you’re getting into beforehand, as the mechanics will seem slightly dated if you’d rather be playing less luck-driven games. If you just want a good zombie killing time, Zombies!!! might be a great game for your collection.
Barrier to Entry
Zombies!!! is a straightforward game, so the simple, short tutorial the game offers is more than enough to get you started. The game prompts you to play it before playing any other modes in the app. There is also a “How to Play” text explanation if you need it for reference or more clarification.
Easy to navigate menus
Vibrant colors in the game
Look and Feel
The visuals in this game really surprised me. The game goes for a 3D graphical style closer to typical mobile games than a standard board game port. The graphics are a little dated, but they still stand out noticeably compared to more traditional board game ports. The zombies look good, as do the maps and players as you can see from our screenshots. The menus also look great and are easy to traverse. Overall, the look of the app is excellent. The controls are simple and functional, no complaints there.
The app store reviews for this game are littered with complaints of crashes. As noted, I only saw a couple of crashes early on, but at one point the game started freezing every time I started a new game and I haven’t been able to recover. I thought it might be tied to me having a saved game, but attempts to play a saved game also crashed. On the minor complaint list, the game won’t rotate to match which side of your device is pointed down. It picks one side and won’t budge, which is a quaint complaint given the constant crashing, but I mention it for completion’s sake.
Zombies!!! features cross-platform, asynchronous online play. Players can start a game which others join via a lobby. Online games are played using standard rules, the only option being how many players will be in the game. Users must link a Facebook account in order to play online games which is a design decision which screams 2013, the date of the original app release.
I am super late to the Zombies!!! party so it isn’t terribly surprising that the online scene for the game is quite barren. It took me a while, but I was able to start a game which another player joined, although a few weeks later it still isn’t finished. My attempts to join other games led to being paired with inactive players and the online game lobby was empty for a while until somebody created a game, which never did fill up. The game features system notifications, but oddly clicking them does not launch the app, it does nothing at all. Overall, online play works how you would expect and through the limited amount of game time I’ve been able to complete it works well. Note that users have complained about the online invite system is broken, I was unable to test this.
Zombies!!! does offer a local pass-and-play option, with up to five players total, depending on the game mode. The online games are blocked by corporate/school networks, which isn’t an uncommon occurrence in digital games.
Single player in Zombies!!! is a nice implementation with a few different play modes to choose from. You choose how many AI players to play against, the number allowed varies by play mode, and which AI personas they will take, each of which have their own play styles. When playing against AI, the game lets you completely skip the AI’s turns, which is a fantastic option which greatly speeds up the game. Note that the physical game lists playing up to six players, but none of the modes in the app go past five.
The game modes are: Standard, Generated Town, Quick Play, and Survival Horror. Standard mode covers all of the rules explained earlier. Quick Play is the same as Standard except the helipad is randomly placed in the bottom half of the tile deck instead of the being the absolute last tile. Generated Town throws you into a game where the town tiles are already played, you can choose to head towards the helipad or try to get 25 kills. Survival Horror is a solo game mode, with no opponents, in which you start on a Generated Town map but the kill win condition is raised to 105 instead of 25. If you die once in Survival Horror mode, the game ends.
Zombies!!! does a great job with the single player game. The modes offer enough variety to keep things interesting.
Dead. Get used to it.
Escaping to victory
The Not Dead Yet expansion is available as an in-app purchase. This expansion provides a slew of new event cards which add abilities to the base game. The physical game was a highly expanded game, but given the age of the app it seems unlikely that any additional expansions will make it to the digital version.
The Wrap Up
I can’t play this game anymore, it crashes every time I try unless I reset everything and play through the tutorial...again. This is unacceptable to us. If they fix the crashes, we will provide a more relevant summary, but at the moment the only thing that matters are the crashes and, based on app store reviews, I’m not the only one seeing them.