As I ride the line 2 subway in Seoul, South Korea I am curious what people are playing on their iPads. The majority of the people on the metro strike me as e-zombies, who gaze lifelessly into the devices in front of them while taping away at the screen. Most often, the games are either a Temple Run clone, like Cookie Run, where the Ginger Bread Man has replaced the fitness-archaeologists, or a puzzle.
The justification behind being entranced by such games is primarily due to controls. Popular platform games like Marvel vs Capcom did not translate to the iPad. Rather than focusing on the iPad’s unique make-up, Marvel vs Capcom forced it’s arcade controls into the game. The result was a frustrating claptrap that wore out players and fans within 2 minutes. The best and most worthy games have adjusted to the options of the mobile devices and their screens. Thus, the simplicity of Fruit Ninja, where players could swipe the screen to enact an e-katana as an extention of their mighty fore-finger, became a dominant choice to pass life away.
However, a new breed of iOS game has arisen, and the action infused Undead Slayer is at the forefront.
An alternate reality based on ancient China opens with a dire situation. A last line of surviving humans fight tooth and nail to hold of hordes of the undead. The King of this teetering kingdom instructs you to strike out as a lone-wolf in a last ditch effort of resistance when the army of the living begins to fail. Even gods who enter the fray of this reality refuse to fight against the zombie armies, but they do understand the plight of man and, therefore, offer training and skill-sets to help you on your way.
Unfortunately, the King is your brother, and his insistence allows your other lazy sisters and brothers in the royal line to side-step their responsibilities. Like the gods, they refuse to raise arms on your behalf, but they will offer aid to you by training your pets and selling goods.
The ladder screen-shot illustrates how large the battle-field in Undead Slayer is. Each flag represents a level that players must clear of zombies, and each completed battle can be returned to so that both leveling your character is stream-lined and so that new items and gold can be stored. Each level also offers 3 options to give a more diverse feel to the hack n’slash. One can simply kill all the enemies, complete the level in a set amount of time (usually around 3 minutes), or one can complete the level by not being hit more than 2 times. The flags on the map with 3 stars have been completed in each of those manners, while the others still require us to go back at our leisure and finish the additional requirements.
Gold is rewarded at the end of every battle, whether you are successful or not. It is not the most valuable item in the game, but it is required to learn most new skills. The lowest level skills are dynamic, but they do less damage. These skills become necessary as the number and size of the undead increase exponentially within the game. Once you find them running towards you from all sides, then having a magic spell to infuse your sword, ax, or spear with fire (or other elements) is essential.
In addition, each weapon you come across has a star-rating between one and five as well as a property. One-star weapons are useless, but a five-star long sword that deals dark magic damage is very, very useful. The skills that players learn can also be swapped. This allows them to be tested in battle and players can either increase their levels or deem them useless and replace them with others.
Above, one can see that higher level skills that summon incredible monsters can also be purchased. For instance, to purchase the ability to summon Zhou Yu players must have enough jade, which are blue and shaped like sea-shells. Jade is similar to the runes in Diablo 2 in that they are hard to find but offer great benefits. While gold can purchase low-level skills, jade can purchase more devastating skills and immensely more powerful weapons and armor.
To add spice to this world of impending doom, your character’s armor does change his appearance. Characters may appear as a samurai, a ninja, or as a dancer, in addition to many others.
After testing the weapon types, we here at WASDUK took a liking to the double-swords. They do not offer a viable long-range attack, but their speed allows players to swoop in, deal a series of hits, and then retreat to safety before launching another lightning quick attack. On the other hand, spears offer an effective long range strike, so that the enemies are kept at a distance, but the striking speed is slower. Axes are a balance of the spear and the swords, but the bolt damage property of the pictured weapon, called The Dragon, will momentarily freeze opponents in electricity, and this allows for even more hits with the double-sword’s high speed.
Weapons can then be forged. There are stones that can be inserted into weapons to increase their damage. The star-ratings of weapons dictate how many times it can be forged. One-star weapons typically have 2-3 forge slots, while 5-star weapons can have 6 or more.
The simple controls of Undead Slayer make each level amazing fun. Once players select a battle stage, their character is briefly pictured on his trusty stead while a tip flashes along the bottom of the screen.
Next, he appears in the center of the stage. Unseen foes begin screaming and moaning to add suspense, but once they appear all you have to do is tap in the direction that you want him to run. After tapping, characters automatically attack and slash at the zombies. If you are overwhelmed and taking too much damage, then double tap on the screen and your character will barrel-roll away to a safer distance.
The members of the undead each show health bars, and their abilities vary. Large muscle-bound zombies carry huge weapons and can even cast tornado spells, while others appear as archers that continue to fire arrows when they are off screen. These well-rounded opponents (just wait until the zombie-wolves and zombie-dinosaurs show up) force you to be strategic in attacks. At times, players will have to retreat or run until a secure attack point can be identified. If players stay still, then they will die very quickly.
Special attacks and skills, once activated, are unblockable. This allows players to have an extra wave of defense if they are trying to earn the completion star of a level for being hit less than 2 times. Each special skill sends the character into a summoning stance before magic is released or manifested. During this brief time, characters are immune to damage.
On the left side of the screen are 2 animal icons. Players can tap the hawk to become an airborne warrior with a crossbow. When the horse icon is used the warrior mounts the horse and yields a huge pike. On the world-map screen, players can click on the Pet shop and upgrade the damage and time that the animals will appear for. You may use each animal only once per match.
The final battle-choice is to call upon a captain. Captains are other fighters that you have recruited to fight for you. You can search for them outside of battle by paying 200 gold coins or you may be rewarded with one for completing a level. When their icon is pushed they jump into battle and offer a unique set of attacks and skills. To level up your captain you have to sacrifice your other recruited characters, and their energy and skill points flow into the character of your choice. Zombies, forging, fan-pleasing and scantily clad sisters, magic, giant dragons, zombie-dinosaurs- WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?!
New levels are only revealed when previous levels are conquered. One star of any kind will open the next battle, but a large set of evil generals (mini-bosses) provide even stronger tests for players. The general’s huge size takes up much more screen space and they each have special skills of their own to cast devastating magic and to summon more zombies. If players are crushed, then going back to previous levels, buying more skills, and saving up jade to buy better weapons and armor must be done.
Undead Slayer is free to download, but it offers in-game purchases to gamers who want to get a leg-up. Regardless of whether or not players spend real money is up to them. Either way, the dynamic leveling system, fast-paced, challenging stages, strategic fighting, and a wide-host of battle options make this one of the best games for your iOS library. Such new, fantastic action role-playing games that have adjusted to the iPad and other mobile devices make it perfectly great to live as an e-zombie.