There’s no denying that the undead have crept into our popular media over the past few years, they’re everywhere you look. From graphic novels to television series, there they are. We seem to have a strange love affair with the rotten, shambling corpses, and it’s a love that we can’t just shake off.
Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville joins the mounting number of studios, both triple A and independent, who are enlisting to the shuffling cause, but unlike the majority of zombie, or ‘zed’, themed games out on the market, it doesn’t disappoint over time. It’s actually a very involving, emotive experience that you really want to succeed in.
As top-down, tactical zombie games go, Rebuild 3 has the genre cornered. It balances strategy with narrative, mixed with just enough action, to give the player hours of re-playable entertainment from the relative safety of their computer screens.
The campaign begins much like any other zom-filled title does, with a rousing chorus of “we don’t know where it came from”, “entire cities fell within days” and a genre favorite, “I managed to just survive”. However, a cliché beginning doesn’t mean a thing if the rest of the game actually makes up for it.
Thankfully, Rebuild 3 does.
You fill the shoes of your own character as they watch the world around them crumble, after choosing a class, designing their face and choosing the right outfit, during the opening days of the apocalypse. Unfortunately, not all goes well. You get bitten by the rabid horde while escaping and are forced to fight off your executioner because you simply want to live. Despite all the odds, you mysteriously survive the infected bite and carry on as if nothing happened.
Flash forward two years after this disaster and you come to the realization that enough is enough. Humanity needs to fight back and start taking ground again. Together with a small band of survivors, you decide to build a fort in the heart of one of the nearby cities and try to force out the ugly denizens within.
This is where Rebuild 3 really comes into its own, not only because its fun but also because its unique too. Your mission is to kill all zombies you come across, reclaim the buildings you clear and then, above all else, survive. To this end, you have to correctly use the five classes given to you in Rebuild 3, or else you’ll only make the tasks harder than they actually are.
Soldiers are trained combatants, and the only real defense you have against a horde. They are much faster at taking out groups of the dead, or clearing buildings than any other profession. Then you’ve got Builders and Scavengers, both of which are normally employed before and after any Soldiers have killed everything. Builders, as one can guess, reclaim buildings and structures quicker than other classes and are your first line of calling when it comes to building a city hall, apartments or farms. Scavengers on the other hand are great at scouting and finding provisions at longer distances from base without harm, making them perfect for obtaining rarer items that will help you in the long run. Finally, you’ve got the more specialized classes, the Leaders and Engineers, who can both turn the tide when it comes to controlling your city overall. Engineers operate the science projects that give you access to abilities that allow you to further understand your current situation and give you the information that, basically, runs your city but in more detail. Leaders are masters of the vernacular, capable of talking people into joining your cause or stopping a revolt if your citizens are unhappy. The best part of this system? Your character can master all of these skills over the course of the campaign.
Managing your food, ammunition and ‘happy’ meters are paramount if you fancy seeing tomorrow arrive as well. If your food falls to zero, after a certain number of days your band of survivors won’t be so united any more and everything may just fall apart. The same goes with ammunition and mental health. If any one of them runs too low, you’ll face serious problems. To boot, you’ve got to contend with gangs, other groups that have just as much, or more, fire power than you do who aren’t always friendly.
Despite all those key, positive points about Rebuild 3, it’s certainly far from flawless in terms of objective game play. Primarily, while every city you visit is new and fresh, teeming with challenge, there’s a horrid sense of starting over and having to repeat the same act that you just did perfectly in the previous one that nags at you. Having to do the same tasks over and over with very little difference is tedious from time to time, although the random events do shake you up.
Also, there’s a seriously annoying issue with the mouse click in Rebuild 3. For example, whenever you drag and drop a survivor to do a task, the game might randomly decide that’s not where they need to be and then drop them two blocks away from where you put them. While not game breaking, it happened a fair few times during the second city play through and was wholly irritating the whole time.
Overall, Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville manages to set itself apart from the leagues of mindless zombie survival titles because of its charm, style and mechanics which keep you glued to your screen.
Click here for Rebuild 3‘s feature on the Indie Game Riot Podcast!
Platform(s): PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Genres: Sim, Management, City-Builder
Release date: 05/29/15
Publisher: Northway Games
Developer: Northway Games