Toyz & Zombies shows that there’s still life in the zombie genre after all

Many years from now, perhaps in some footnote (if such things manage to survive), one of the things we’ll be remembered for is our love of using the oddest things to kill zombies for entertainment. Sometimes we use plants, sometimes we slap them with a shovel, and sometimes we resort to boring them with weighty monologues on AMC. And now, thanks to Paprika Lab, we’re reduced to overcoming the zombie apocalypse with toys. But as we see in the endearing Toyz & Zombies, that doesn’t mean that the concept is any less rewarding.

Toyz & Zombies plays something like an adorable homage to the turn-based Heroes of Might and Magic series, complete with rubber ducks and nesting dolls standing in for archers and wizards. Much like the “heroes” of that series, your main avatar does little aside from ordering your playhouse troops to walk over to a certain spot on a grid gamescreen, although you can move him or her around the map and heal and revive units in the higher levels. The actual combat is carried out by your toys, which have a surprisingly wide range of abilities. Teddy bears are good for attacking zombies one on one, for instance, and Rubik’s Cubes (or “Angrycubes”) dish out a devastating area of effect attack.

Toyz & Zombies

All of this takes place in a series of missions that never grow much more complicated than clearing out the zombies on a neighboring lawn, although time limits and objectives add a welcome dose of spice. Beyond that, you can increase the stats of your toys with each level and upgrade them by collecting or harvesting random drops (or receiving them as gifts from friends), in addition to crafting slingshots and bombs to aid in the zombie killing mania. Couple that rewarding gameplay with a charming visual presentation and a catchy soundtrack, and you may find yourself thinking that the zombie apocalypse isn’t so bad after all.

It’s a new game, so Toyz & Zombies lacks some elements that might provide a more rewarding experience. At the time of writing, for example, the “Skins” tab was empty, and the toy selection was limited to five units (and an additional three through Facebook credits). An option to engage in player-versus-player combat is also in the works, which should greatly improve the currently limited social options and allow the title to share in some of the better aspects of the franchise on which it’s loosely based.

Toyz & Zombies

For now, though, Toyz & Zombies provides a strangely rewarding experience, and it’s full of toy-sized surprises that lend the title some distinction in an increasingly crowded social market. It’s never violent enough to turn off parents who might recoil at the thought of their child slaughtering reanimated loved ones, and it’s never simple enough to turn off adult social gamers seeking a moderately challenging experience. At once a puzzle and combat action game, Toyz & Zombies demonstrates that the zombie setting is still worth toying around with.