Riding Out a Zombie Apocalypse in Rebuild
Ah, yes, zombies. The ever popular theme for wiping out humanity in seconds flat; after all, once the dead start rising and turning us into one of them, a full scale destruction of all social systems is bound to happen right? There are plenty of great games and shows about humanity being all too human and dramatic in the face of an undead horde. There is plenty of drama, tension, and even domestic-scale political power struggles about who gets to decide on what. After all, when no one else is left to tell you what is right or wrong, who else would you rather follow than yourself?
Rebuild takes all these little nuances away and provides you with something a little more concrete and more importantly, a lot more fun: control of your own group of human survivors. But instead of having to deal with their little dramatic issues and personal problems, you take on a more general challenge: actually providing them with substantial resources to live out their lives.
Another One Rises From the Grave
Not to be lumped in with the rest of the a-typical top-down, upgrade based, zombie shooters that most of us are already familiar with, Rebuild is a pretty fresh concept: the focus on survival through logical means. Sure, a headshot will get you away from a zombie lunging for your warm, living flesh, but what do you do when you get sick? Or hungry? Or when the weather turns too cold or too hot? Where do you stay for shelter? Who watches over your walls when you close your eyes? These are simple survival factors that are brought into the spotlight, and it is up to you to provide some sensible and sustainable answers.
In the world of Rebuild, the importation of viral vegetable produce has turned a vast majority of the world's population into zombies. The game places you in control of a small group of survivors, long tired of escaping the jaws of death and running away from rampaging zombie hordes. Your group has decided that it is tired of running and will be settling into a city (that you will get to name). In this city, you must establish safe houses, defense fortifications, hospitals, farms and other bare necessities -and yes, you must also provide establishments that will cater to the sanity of your people, which means a few bars or churches will help soothe the souls of these tired and weary folk.
Playing the Role of a Leader
This is not a game about picking up a 12 gauge shotgun and creating a giant hole in the heads of the undead, this is about telling which folks to bring weapons, which ones to attend the wounded, and deciding who has to stay in the kitchens so that everyone has something to eat when they get back (well, not literally, but something like that).
The game time is divided up to days, with each assigned tasked taking a certain number of days. This varies whether you are sending a well-spoken member of the group to talk with other survivors in the hopes of recruiting new people (and increasing your manpower), having your more intellectually gifted members to play the roles of doctors and researchers, or having able bodied personnel take up arms and clearing out the nearby supermarket before sending some scavengers in. Each of these tasks take a certain amount of days, you must decide what your people must do first in order to efficiently get through each day with as few fatalities as possible.
Since you are repurposing city structures, you have no actual building capabilities; you must make use of existing buildings and then alter them to suit your needs. This is why you cannot just tear down a gas station and plan on building a farm, you must first find a residential lot (which, in the game, is usually built on flat, and fertile soil) and then you can tear down the house and build a farm to provide food. This means that players must be careful in deciding their course of action in terms of acquiring new buildings -as those take time. Naturally, it is also a whole lot more sensible to acquire a fully built hospital than to waste the time to convert a warehouse into one.
Not So Fancy Looking
The one thing about Rebuild's user interface that we really found to be annoying is how cluttered and messy it looks. Sure, we appreciate the whole zombie-apocalypse scrapbook design, but there is something in the execution that makes it sloppier than a decapitated walker. This becomes particularly noticeable during the start of the game when your screen is easily cluttered with all the context menu pop-ups (and the obligatory tutorial messages).
In terms of the actual game itself, the sights take a second or two to adjust to, but otherwise Rebuild is a pretty decently designed game. The solid and highly contrasting colors are certainly not for everyone's tastes, but in the end, it all works out well enough to be on the playable side of the fence. Thanks to the simplistic art style, it is easy to figure out the visual differences between the different structures and also, the different units that you have.
Nothing too inventive, the hospitals are bright green and have gigantic red cross up front, supermarkets are clearly labeled as such (same applies to the police head quarters), houses are pretty easy to figure out with their large suburban style roofs, and the typical tilled soil fields mark out your farms. For the rest of the structures, the idea is pretty much the same so have no worries about mistaking a building for something else entirely. Survivors are also designed in a similar fashion: fighter types wear army fatigues, doctors wear large white lab coats and engineers wear giant blue overalls. Since you will not have much time having to figure out post-apocalyptic fashion, it seems the developers have decided to stick to something a whole lot more stereotypical and more importantly, familiar.
The music for the game is a little low-key, but that does not really matter since the focus is on the actual game itself. There is also little to appreciate in terms of the audio cues of the game as you can easy keep track of all the action from the user interface alone. If you had to play this game with the speakers off, know that you are not missing out on anything big.
Small Things That Matter
Despite the game's clumsily designed interface and somewhat cluttered look, there is no doubt that Rebuild has one insanely fun gameplay concept. You have people, and you tell them what to do in order to survive and thrive in a world that has been taken over by zombies. Sure, taking back the local town will take plenty of days and progress can only go as far as a few blocks at a time, but it is this slow and steady pace of rebuilding that ultimately mirrors and rivals that of a zombie's own progress. Zombies are slow and stupid, but they are also relentless. For humanity to survive in the face of such calamities, such unrelenting principles bust also stand firm, and that is the thought that this game empowers to us all, that no matter how hard we are pushed to a wall, we can always take back whatever ground we may have lost.
Rebuild may not have the nicest graphics out there on the market, but then again, it is still a whole lot better than many of the off-kilter Flash titles you would see today (and Rebuild is a pretty old game). When it comes to gameplay, Rebuild is fresh, fun, and easy to pick up anytime -making it a great choice for those games that you can keep coming back to. If it were not for the fact that this game already has a great sequel (which we recommend a whole lot more), we would say that it has its own sense of refinement that should by enjoyed by all gamers. So there you have it, Rebuild is a great game to play if graphics is not that big a deal for you; the gameplay is addictive and the concept is pretty innovative. We give this game a well-fed scavenger's 84/100.