‘Survival Z’ game review: A zombie tower-defence title that doesn’t require too much brain power

  • Ember Entertainment’s title for Apple Arcade is a great way to pass the time, but never too demanding
  • Containing elements of ‘Resident Evil’ and ‘Plants vs Zombies’, this is the sort of distraction we need right now
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Survival Z is the sort of distraction we need right now

Twin stick shooters, tower defence games and zombies seemed to be popular all at once a decade ago. The genre that uses two analogue sticks to move and fire was easy to learn but hard to master. That was how indie studios such as Housemarque to make a name for themselves.

The tower defence concept gave birth to hits such as PixelJunk Monsters, while the shambling undead were the enemy du jour. They were in everything from Resident Evil to Left 4 Dead.

Several games have combined one or the other – Plants vs Zombies comes to mind – but few have mixed all three. Ember Entertainment does that with Survival Z, a controller-friendly title for Apple Arcade.

It puts players in the role of a survivor during the zombie apocalypse. From there, players face levels where they first plan the type of defences they want to plant – sand barrier, barrel bomb, nailgun turret, etc – then face waves of the undead. The game has a bit of strategy as players figure out choke points and escape routes they can use.

From there, it’s about dodging enemy attacks and firing on them with a crossbow. Once you survive the quota of waves, you’ll earn upgrades.

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Although you will encounter zombie hordes often, not all levels involve combat. Depending on the path, you will come across a salvager who gives away items, or find a clinic where you can heal your wounds.

There’s even some story-focused events where you have to make choices that either benefit or hurt you.

Survival Z has some rogue-lite elements to it. That means essentially that, when you die, you have to start over and you lose all your chosen upgrades. You hang on to your equipment, though, which you can upgrade by spending gold you get from killing zombies.

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You can also boost your defence items with the currency. The idea is that despite the setback, players will learn techniques and strategies that will help them survive longer. Eventually with the equipment upgrades, you’ll go through 50 unique levels.

Time commitment? Each level takes about five minutes minimum. What’s great about Survival Z is that you can pick up and play the game whenever you want. It’s a great game to play while bingeing a TV series or sitting through a sports game in the background.

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