App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Just in time for Halloween, Gameloft has released Zombie Anarchy: Strategy, War & Survival, a clicker that resembles a real-time strategy game set during a zombie apocalypse. There are a few intriguing gameplay mechanics present in this game, but the overwhelming amount of free-to-play barriers in the game will likely discourage you from wanting to experience much of them.
Your zombie apocalypse team
Zombie media is full of well-worn tropes and Zombie Anarchy is full of most of them. The world has gone to hell, you and a small group of people have found a small sactuary, and you have to guard and maintain it to ensure your survival. In order to do this though, you'll have to venture out into zombie territory and even attack other survivors to get much needed supplies.
In a gameplay sense, this translates to you doing a lot of Clash of Clans-style base building, while going out on missions to attack AI zombie locations or other players' settlements to get what you need to upgrade your defenses and characters.
Strategy is dead
The base building itself in Zombie Anarchy is simple, but compelling in the way that lots of tapper-style upgrade systems are. The combat in the game, however, is a bit frustrating.
Attacking locations in Zombie Anarchy consists of you tapping around the screen to control your characters, some of whom never listen to your commands at all. Even the characters that do follow your orders are pretty hard to control, since you can't really zoom in or otherwise give precise commands. This leads to a lot of characters running head on into traps that conceivably should be easy to avoid. As a result, much of Zombie Anarchy's combat seems to get resolved by who has higher level things than the other, rather than any real strategy.
Live freemium or die
The most disappointing thing about Zombie Anarchy isn't its combat though. It's really the free-to-play structure that kills the experience.
Every single thing you do in the game, whether it's upgrading a structure, healing a survivor, or even attacking someone else has some cost associated with it that eventually leads back to a timer. This, understandably, makes you want to close the app. That's a bad idea though, since Zombie Anarchy allows other players to attack your settlement when you're offline, so you're motivated to stay in the game to prevent getting attacked. The simple solution for this–if you really wanted to get into the game–would be to just leave your device on running the game until there is something to do, but you can't even do that. If you leave Zombie Anarchy running too long while idle, you get disconnected from the game server. So, the only real solution is to dink around in the game waiting for timers, which is hardly a good time.
The bottom line
Zombie Anarchy does just about everything it can to make it hard to enjoy. While the base-building in it is decent, the sheer amount of timers, collectibles, and other gating mechanics makes it feel like it was designed to turn you into a zombie.