Web game Zombies Inc. makes for a great concept, but has its kinks
Zombies are a staple of the gaming industry, and who doesn’t love disemboweling those walking dead? Well, game portal Arcadebomb is hosting a new take on the theme with Zombies, Inc. It still goes into the whole “zombie apocalypse” concept, though this time around the outbreak is a bit more sentient and steering toward a more “world domination” route by using none other than U.S. capitalism. By building up a corporation run by zombies for zombies, players have the sole goal of raising a conquering army of the undead through time management gameplay.
The company of Zombies Inc. is a friendly business that has a secondary agenda (to making money) of conquering the world. Broken up into four departments, users must manage the areas of business, zombie engineering, battle, and corporate upgrades (which just increase the effectiveness of the previous three). Each one is tied to the other in some way with all sucking away time and resources. As such, players must manage where they spend money in order to infect a certain amount of the human populace and win.
Business comes first – this is a company after all. Revenue is generated passively by various zombie products that are sold every second. These consist of things like zombie soft drinks, desserts, hair product, and more. Each one can be upgraded to increase their fiscal viability, but in order to truly increase the amount of cash rolling in, more zombie employees must be hired. That said, new hires do increase the daily upkeep costs of Zombies, Inc.
Once a decent revenue stream is established, players can then move on to growing their army of the damned. Moving up in the corporation, “zombologists” are hired to unlock new strains of the zombie virus, allowing users to purchase different variations for their conquering army. Each creation has its set of basic stats (attack, defense, speed), and grows more powerful (and weird; seriously, there’s a Trojan horse zombie) as they are unlocked. After a starting zombie force is constructed, then the real challenge begins: the world domination phase.
From a zombie command center, players select areas of the world to conquer with more highly populated regions (U.S., Europe, Japan, etc.) unlocking as the weaker cities fall. Each city has a noted population, attack, and defense, and based on how many “zombie commanders” one hires, the number of zombies in an army increase. This is where the game becomes a little bit muddled.
It’s hard to see how the stats of units actually affect the army’s power. For example, when one type of unit is added, the army stats increase, but then at a certain point it stops. However if there are still more unit slots in the army, adding different units might decrease stats. Additionally, when comparing stats, it’s unclear on how to know if an army is strong enough to sack a city. Case in point, does an army attack power need to be stronger than city defense power? Or is it merely a comparison of attack power versus attack power?
What this results in is a lot of trial an error, and while it isn’t a deal breaker, it is a bit annoying. Nevertheless, the battles themselves do make up for some of the problem with their comical absurdities. Nothing is displayed visually, but as the battle is in progress, random commentary on the events will be shown, such as “a zombie played Resident Evil and decided it wasn’t worth it.”
Despite the lack of clarity in the battle system, the biggest issue is in earning income early on in the game. There are distinct moments where players are trying to save enough money to upgrade something or purchase new employees, and they simply don’t have enough cash to do so. What this means is they get to sit… and wait… and wait… and wait for the money ticker to slowly count upwards. Unless the game is kept open while doing something else simultaneously, the wait to do anything is rather painful.
Overall though, Zombies Inc. isn’t too bad. It’s a nice, creative twist on the zombie apocalypse scenario and does come with a good bit of humor and style. Sadly, it does lose some points for lack of clarity and moments where nothing can be done, but neither are truly going to deter most players. Perhaps that is the intention of the design too: To simply be a distraction that one clicks on now and then while they do something else. Regardless, it’s an amusing web app that is entertaining for what it is.