The Zombie genre is an incredibly saturated genre. You can’t go on any gaming site, online store or heck, the Internet itself without being met with some kind of zombie game. It’s not just games either, there are just as many zombie movies in the market as there is zombies in most games. While this means the genre has a wide audience, developers also have to deal with the problem of mundanity and staleness due to just how many other competitors there are. Back in 2011, a time when the Internet was plagued by hundreds of zombie games so similar you couldn’t tell the difference, a little game called Rebuild tried to approach the genre from a different angle: strategy. Instead of tasking you with mowing down the zombie horde, it challenged you to manage a large settlement of survivors in their mission to take back the world from the undead. However, it’s one thing to try a new idea and another to actually execute the idea well. Does Rebuild make the most of its new idea or is it simply eaten up by all the other repetitive zombie games on the market? Let’s find out!
As mentioned above, in Rebuild, instead of taking the fight to the zombies, you will be getting the survivors in your settlement to do it for you. After choosing a name, settlement name and difficulty, you are shown a top-down view of a seemingly large city. You can assign your survivors a variety of jobs from scavenging supplies to retaking areas clear of zombies to just straight up killing zombies. Each of your survivors has a speciality that makes them more suited to certain tasks. Soldiers are obviously better at killing zombies, scavengers can gather the most food, scientists research new technology(once you get a lab) to make the survivor’s jobs easier, builders take less time to reclaim areas and leaders are best at convincing other survivors to join your settlement. Once you reclaim a school, you can change your survivor’s speciality which is useful since some of them have no speciality at all.
Some specialities are much more useful than others however. You can’t even use scientists until you reclaim a lab which can take a while and builders can’t even retake buildings until they’re cleared out. Soldiers are easily the most useful speciality in the game as they reduce the danger level which is the chance of something going wrong and one or more of your survivors dying. Need to clear out some zombies? Soldier. Need to recruit survivors? Send a soldier along with your leader to ensure their safety. Need to reclaim a building? Send a soldier along with the builder to make sure they aren’t killed. I know it’s the zombie apocalypse but even so…
It’s not just outside the settlement that the zombies prove a problem. Every now and then, the zombies surrounding your barricaded bastion attack. The way you stop them completely overrunning your settlement is by assigning some of your survivors to guard the outer walls and reduce the danger rating of the zombies re-reclaiming one or more of the areas in your settlement. Of course, soldiers are the most useful again though anyone can defend the wall. It tells you how many zombies are gathering outside your walls so repelling them is simply a matter of making sure your defence is much higher than their numbers. Sometimes hordes will also show up on the map and will require extra effort to hold back which shakes things up a bit.
Luck plays just as major a factor in the game as strategy. Every time you send your survivors outside the settlement for some reason or another it tells you the danger rating of the task out of 100%. This rating is dependent on how infested the area is with zombies so, once again, soldiers play a massive part in clearing them out so it’s easier for your other survivors to raid the area. Even when the area is supposedly completely cleared of zombies, there is still a chance of your survivors being killed while out. This means that no matter how good a strategist you are, if you’re unlucky then the game can still screw you over.
The humour in the game is a minor yet still relevant good point of the game. Every time a survivor returns from an outing they’ll give you a report which prove to be small intervals of comedy. One of the best parts of my first playthrough was when I sent two soldiers on a zombie murder mission and one reported back saying that “Ben’s favourite rifle that he always insisted on using blew up in his face and took out an eye”. Then, when I prepared to send Ben on another mission I let out a loud chuckle when I saw his name had been changed to “Ben ‘Cyclops’ Kane”. It’s moments like these that break up the monotony of the game. It’s just unfortunate that a few days later, I got this exact same message but with another soldier named Lance.
I chose to play on the ‘Normal’ difficulty setting as I do with most games but I found it surprisingly easy which isn’t a good sign since I’m usually laughably bad at strategy games. I met little challenge and by 35 days I had scouted all the map and had more survivors than I knew what to do with. Maybe I just got lucky but if you want a decent challenge then I’d suggest playing on hard or higher. The game gets a bit repetitive after a short while playing at least for me but the different difficulty settings and several ways of winning add a bit of replayability. There were two main ways I found of winning, destroying a portal in an evil graveyard to stop the zombie assault once and for all or taking back the town hall and establishing a new government in the zombie world though there might be more I haven’t discovered.
Overall, Rebuild is a decent game that’s worth at least an hour or two of your time. It has many problems that prevent it from being an amazing Flash game but it’s still a classic and its concept is unique unlike many of the ‘Idle’ games that currently occupy Kongregate’s front page. Next week, I’ll be covering it’s sequel, the aptly named “Rebuild 2” so stay tuned for then to see whether it fixes the first Rebuild’s mistakes. Until then, I’m sure you can survive another week. Just make sure to train lots of soldiers in the school.
- Nice art style
- Multiple ways of winning
- New take on the zombie genre
- Various difficulty levels
- Repetitive gameplay
- Normal difficulty too easy
- Repetitive writing/reports
- Luck plays a large part
Play the game for free here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/sarahnorthway/rebuild