Version Reviewed: 1.2.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
I have to give credit where credit is due: Beyond the Dead provides a clever new angle on the rather typical mobile collectible card game. It also creates a surprisingly effective atmosphere despite there being no direct threat from the zombie hordes. Problem is, it never quite manages to move along any faster than the shuffling dead players will spend untold hours eliminating.
As I’ve sort of implied already, Beyond the Dead is essentially a mobile CCG; only instead of collecting cards, players gather up Survivors. The basic mechanics are the same, however. Each Survivor can be individually leveled-up by sacrificing other Survivors (justified in the world as sharing equipment), and duplicates can be combined to create more powerful variants. In addition, Survivors can be recruited to a team of five and used to battle other players for bonus goodies. There’s also a Settlement that acts as one’s home base - complete with structures to build and upgrade that will earn cash over time - which is similar to other freemium town builders. The missions themselves are a bit different in that players can explore a fair number of themed areas (a camp, army base, amusement park, etc), each with their own sets of zombies to dispatch and tasks to complete. Players just tap on a zombie (or building) to select it, then tap again to attack (or search) and watch their avatar do their thing.
One of the biggest draws (for me, anyway) of Beyond the Dead is easily the Survivors themselves. The illustrations are great across the board, there are a lot of them, and many include some sort of visual gag or reference - such as the engineer wielding something reminiscent of Dead Space’s Plasma Cutter or a Barista using a sharpened grinder blade from an espresso machine. I’m also impressed with just how many missions are available. Similar games I’ve played have maybe a handful at any given time but Beyond the Dead has a lot more than that, which means more options for when players start to run low on energy.
It’s unfortunate, then, that everything progresses so ridiculously slow. The early game is fine since players will be leveling up faster than they can spend their energy, but after a while they’ll start to become accustomed to finishing a mission or two and then waiting for more than an hour before coming back. Gathering money from the Settlement is just as much of a grind since buildings either take hours (or even several days!) to produce cash, or have insultingly small limits.
Beyond the Dead can be quite the grind once players hit level ten or so. Still, when played in smaller sessions it can be a pretty nice distraction. That and the sheer amount of cleverly-designed Survivors are an absolute treat.