Mini DAYZ from Bohemia Interactive may have just arrived on Android and iOS last week, but its origins go deep. Grounded in the popular 3D survival game DayZ released in 2013, Mini DAYZ pixelates the survival experience while keeping the game’s original theme.

The central goal in Mini DAYZ, as with all survival games, is to stay alive plain and simple. To do that, you’re going to need to make sure your avatar is in one piece (and not bleeding out all over the place), hydrated, fed and generally happy. Starting the game with only the clothes on your back, in order to keep yourself safe, sound and – ultimately – alive, you’ll need to roam the terrain looting abandoned vehicles and picking up dropped items. Most importantly you’ll also need to defend yourself against zombies and wild animals who are all out for blood – your blood specifically.

When combined with other survival adventure games, such as the famous (or infamous) Don’t Stave series, Mini DAYZ is definitely one of the more challenging survival games to play. Your zombie foes are ruthless, as are the wild creatures that’ll try to rip you apart day and night. Supplies can also be scarce, especially if you find yourself in a rural area and even with the game’s tutorial there’s a solid period of panic when you first find yourself on your own in the game’s post-apocalyptic world.

Mini DAYZ Set Up

With a choice of joystick or touch controls, movement around the terrain is smooth. However, this only does so much when the attack controls can take a bit of getting used to. Provided you’re able to get your hands on a weapon and ammo, you’ll have the option of melee (hand to hand) or distance engagement with the enemy. However, the way the controls are laid out you’re as likely to accidentally keep switching between the two types over and over as you are to get a decent shot off at the enemy.

When you take a hit there’s also a good chance that you’ll be bleeding out all over the place. Without a decent shirt or bandages in stock this fast bleed will lead to a quick death. This combat dynamic is the core excitement generated by the game but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Mini DAYZ Duke it Out

The set-up of the game means that Mini DAYZ is not the sort of game that can easily be picked up for a few minutes here and there, with progress saved in short increments. Any time you pick it up you’re going to want (or need) to play through an entire life. Fortunately this likely won’t take long given the game’s difficulty, even if it doesn’t quite jive with the short intense burst of gameplay that many mobile gamers enjoy.

The graphics in the game do a great job of capturing an authentic retro feel. The downside of this is that when it comes to the creatures you can’t tell exactly what’s coming after you. This can make it hard to be overly strategic in planning your attack. The soundtrack complements the graphics’ retro vibe, though it’s as enjoyable a game on silent as it is with the sound blaring through the headphones.

Mini DAYZ Run for Your Life

Performance itself is smooth on both older & newer devices and across both major platforms. It runs light as well which means that you don’t need to worry about frying your hand when playing on the bus in the summer heat.

Overall Mini DAYZ is a thoroughly solid survival experience, although it doesn’t necessarily wow. It likely won’t make many game of the year lists, but for those who like to test themselves against zombie hordes you’ll likely have a good time.