The Dead Take a Dive in Zombie Highway
With a slow pace and a very basic premise, Zombie Highway is hardly anything that players would consider a worthwhile game. Despite that, it still manages to provide a decent amount of fun for about couple of hours before you realize that you have seen everything that the game has to offer. So, the question is, should you even download this little app game or just move on to something else?
Being able to find something worthwhile to come back to has been one of the most important factors for making a game addictive and fun to play. And sadly this is one element in Zombie Highway that is severely lacking (though others still find it to be plenty of fun). So when you take that out of the picture, what is left? ZH provides players with a relatively simple gameplay mechanic, big flat visuals, and a challenge that bases itself more on players struggling with the clumsy controls as opposed to dealing with difficult in-game situations. It’s a game you play for the sake of playing, but not one where you expect to find any deep levels of satisfaction.
Release Date: 27/08/2010
Available on: iOS, Android
The game itself does not go into detail about what’s going on, and players are left to guess what happened. Sure, playing with a bit of imagination is nice, but let us see what we have to work with. First off, you have a car, and there are other cars on the highway (though yours is the only one that actually works). So you could more or less place the setting of this game sometime in the modern day era, with modern day cars. The types of weapons that you can use also further support this fact.
The big vast empty desert on the left and right of the highway doesn’t exactly spell out much in detail, but at least it there is no nuclear winter –zombies seem to be the only problem this game world has. So anyway, the least we can assume is that you, the player character is aboard that car and is driving away from the zombies. Oh, and it is easy to assume that wherever it is that you are driving away from is already chock-full of zombies.
Anyway, the most common idea in any zombie scenario is that the first thing you do is run. Maybe you will find someplace to hole up in, or just keep moving from one safe house to another. Either way, the first thing you do is run –and doing so in an automobile is always a good idea.
What Really Happens
So enough about the game setting, the important thing is knowing how this game plays out. Basically, you steer your car left and right along a straight stretch of road. Why so much swerving? This is so that you can move around obstacles, avoid walls, and more often than not, scrape off those zombies clinging to the sides of your vehicle.
The game starts out pretty slow and simple: you get used to having zombies jumping at your car, and you learn to remove them by sideswiping the debris on the road. If they are a little extra clingly, you can opt to shoot them with whatever guns you have with you, and also, you can keep scraping them till they let go.
Once you get a little further in the game, things start getting interesting. The zombies start changing in their innate abilities. Some are incredibly large, making them harder to scrape off, and this also changes the balance of your car –making it more to accidentally tip over if you are not too careful about making sudden turns. There are also more tenacious zombies –ones that will aggressively shake your car and not only alter your balance, but it will affect your steering as well (we highly recommend getting rid of these guys the moment they appear).
Now, one simple strategy that one would want to do is to keep zombies from jump unto your car as much as possible. Which is a smart plan, but not very doable in this game. The zombies are literally able to jump across the street and will land accurately on the side of your car. This makes it pretty annoying as the only way to prevent that is to run them over (forcing you to drive on one side of the road –but you will still be vulnerable to attacks from the other side). You also have the option of firing your shotgun at a zombie mid-jump –this will knock them down immediately. While it is unlikely to kill the target, the move will still prevent them from latching onto your vehicle (which is a good result).
What Could have Been Better
The thing about this game is that it could have been so much better. In terms of premise and basic gameplay concept, a zombie-apocalypse survival driving game is pretty nifty. All you need is an addictive gameplay, good delivery, great upgrades, and you are gold. And sadly, in Zombie Highway is plenty lacking in all three categories.
First off, driving the car is an extremely clumsy effort. While a certain level of difficulty is always appreciated. Zombie Highway often borders on frustrating and there are moments when the gameplay controls manage to cross that line. Randomized obstacles and stages are great, but the car steering needs to feel a little more responsive and intuitive for gamers.
Second, make the backgrounds more varied. It gets tiring to see the same kinds of terrain over and over again. Especially when it is an arid desert; a few random background elements like abandoned gas stations and other similar things would be appreciated. While the details do not need to be placed all over the game, some change of scenery would certainly be appreciated.
The upgrade system is also a little hard to deal with –you play for long period with very little gain. Most games allow players a little bit of satisfaction as they play through the game by allowing them to slowly upgrade their performance. This game would provide a more streamlined gameplay experience if gave more rewards to players for their efforts.
Some games are outright failures, and some games have a lot of promise and potential but fail to live up to anything. Zombie Highway may seem like it treads the line in between, but it actually falls more under the fails to live up to the potential category. The zombie genre is rich, strong, and has a very solid following. A game with an upgrade system can easily become something addictive. Survival driving is a great to play a game –all it really needs is good execution. That is sadly the only real thing that is missing from the game –had the developers cleaned up the controls, made the rewards curve less tedious, and added in a lot more details, then the game would be a gem to play. But right now, all it is, is a lucklaster little title that players should try just to check out the idea. The devs at Renderpaz do have something great however, and we can't help but admit that we're eagerly awaiting a more improved sequel. We give this game a slightly less than average’s 79/100
Zombie Highway is developed by Auxbarin Inc.