Developer: Techland
Publisher: Chillingo
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics/Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

There is a certain safety in using zombies, so it isn’t much of a shocker to find Techland, responsible for Dead Island, once again tackling the shambling, shuffling, and undead horde in Dead Stop. Unlike the attempts at frightening with gore and fast-paced action, or pulling at heartstrings with deft trailers, Techland has toned it down a bit, seemingly taking a cue from other strategy titles using zombies by making them almost cute and cuddly. Sometimes I like to imagine they’re not zombies so much as teddy bears in need of repair and a dye job.

This is largely because the zombies, environments, and various turrets and traps are wonderfully animated in an adorable manner. While there is some mad scientist squawking at me about saving citizens (who spend the beginning of a level yowling from behind some door or trailer park), it’s mostly just about the path the zombies take, the ways I will stop them, and watching them fall down into a tiny trickle of coins to continue making the process more brutal.

Which gives you a fairly standard tower defense game. In addition to zombies popping coins directly into a bank that can be used to purchase either more traps and turrets or upgrade the latter, sometimes they pop out little gift boxes! Perhaps even coins! Unfortunately, this requires actually tapping on these icons, which seems to want to add more action in a genre that is typically set, wait, and hope for some way to speed up the onslaught to test what has been set up to foil their dastardly plans.

While I never quite felt the need to purchase the various power-ups that could be used, they did sit rather ominously at the top of my bar, waiting to be used. They do drop in the world occasionally, but never transfer from one world to the next, so upon receiving them, I was often in a frenzy to spend them as soon as possible, rather than hold out in case of an emergency. Instead, the primary method of acquisition seems to purchase them.

Every so often the game shifts focus, bringing in different maps to test other modes of gameplay. This includes laying down traps in droves and receiving tons of the lightning upgrade and then smiting zombies from above. The latter confused me, however, in that I had to use my finger all over the screen, often blocking the view. When faced with faster zombies, this became somewhat of an annoyance unless I also had the slowing power-up in play.

For the most part, the level design is quite quirky and amusing, however. The difficulty is a rather steep curve later on, but it ramps up to it quite nicely to start. Overall, a positive experience, if perhaps one I felt I’ve had before in many other occasions.

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