iPad Review: Rebuild

You’ve managed to reach the city of Baltimore/Tucson/Yourtownville, where you’ve hooked up with a small team of survivors. They’ve fortified four blocks. A suburb, an apartment, a police station, and a farm. Some of your camp-mates are fighters, some are builders, some are scavengers, leaders, or scientists. The undead are everywhere. You can only survive if you can Rebuild.

I’ll save you a lot of time if you’re in a hurry. Rebuild is a fantastic game and you should play it. There are links to various versions at the bottom of this post, one is even free.

Looking for a longer description? Rebuild has you managing a small band of survivors as they try to reclaim a city from the walking dead. You have to manage population, food supply, morale, weapons, and the constant threat of zombie attacks. It’s a “light” strategy game of managed risk where you send your fellow survivors on various assignments. Scavenge the gas station for supplies, scout the park, reclaim that suburb, fortify the mall against attack… the list goes on.

Yes yes, zombies. You’re over zombies. Honestly? So am I. Zombies are a fascinating boogieman, they make a great apocolipse, but how many times can we watch a group of haggard everypeople escape the Hoard intact? One more time, apparently. Rebuild adds a twist to the plot which we all think about, but rarely get to test: How would you rebuild society after the apocalypse? Rebuild allows you to try, and sometimes fail, at setting up a permanent bastion against the Zeds.

There’s one important element to this game which I can’t convey through description or screen shots. Sarah Northway, the game’s designer, really loved this game. There’s a lot of care and heart here, a lot of attention to detail. Every mission ends with a handwritten note from one of the survivors, randomized and tailored to the task at hand. These notes are sometimes funny, sometimes grim, often profanity strewn, and occasionally misspelled (the game engine actually creates misspellings to simulate handwriting). She cared about these tiny digital people, and by the time you’re done playing, you will to. You play because you WANT them to pull through. That’s the kind of thing you can’t add to a feature list.

It’s a great game and you should play it. It’s available on iOS devices and, oddly, blackberries. It’s also available as a flash game, for those of you who don’t like loading stuff on your phones.

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