Zombies eh? It feels like only yesterday that I was complaining that they were everywhere. Then as if to prove my point, here comes another game featuring the undead, flesh-eating antagonists.
Thankfully, Undead’s Building isn’t your typical zombie game. Rather than taking them on directly – or even, as it turns out, at all – the player is instead in charge of the lift (or ‘elevator’, for our American cousins) in zombie-infested buildings, trying to rescue as many inhabitants as possible from the shambling undead. In practice, this means switching between the building’s CCTV system – which allows you to keep an eye on what’s happening on each floor – and the lift itself; when going back to the lift, you’re in direct control of the floor it’ll go to, as well as the opening and closing of the doors.
When using the CCTV, you’ll see people running toward the lift – and they’ll wait for it to arrive. If there is a zombie – or zombies – there, they’ll be attacked and you’ll only have a short amount of time to rescue them before it’s too late. Levels can become hectic and stressful, with the need to quickly choose which floor to visit next being made more complicated by the time it’ll take to reach it from your current position and how many people you can fit in the lift.
Your lift will hold up to nine people, and you’ll need to get them to the exit floor – or at least to one of the exit floors, as there’s sometimes more than one. Once all of the inhabitants are safe – or the last one alive has been eaten – the level ends. You’re given a grade, with the number of survivors saved and a number of different areas (Reputation, Accuracy, Wildness, Speed and Efficiency) taken into account on the final screen.
With only seven levels, Undead’s Building is a very short game. There’s a certain amount of replay value, depending on your tolerance for the simple and often panic-inducing gameplay, in attempting to better your grades for each level.
It is, however, very repetitive and is clearly a game made on a shoestring budget; the basic visuals and limited sound design make this somewhat obvious. There’s only a small selection of character models and animations too; it really does feel like a very barebones production.
That said, it does at least offer a unique take on the extremely prevalent zombie apocalypse setting. The only other game I’ve played that comes close to the mechanics of Undead’s Building is the obscure, mostly forgotten early 80s Sega arcade game Bank Panic, in which you’re tasked with defending a bank from bandits while simultaneously attempting to ensure that law-abiding citizens can deposit their cash. In some ways though, Undead’s Building feels even more limited than that 35-year old game.
There’s definitely a certain B-movie charm to proceedings and there’s some fun to be had in the sometimes stressful prioritisation of rescuing survivors – just don’t expect it to last very long at all. You’ll likely tire of the concept long before you’ve made it through the small selection of levels, which is a shame – there’s definitely potential here and it’s good to see a developer trying to put a unique spin on zombie apocalypse.
Review on: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Double Drive