I think I’ve either lost my mind or hit rock bottom, but I’m engaged enough in an iOS game to actually review the thing. While I’m not against games found on smartphones or tablets, I’ve typically steered clear of most of them. Rebuild has certainly bucked that trend for me.
Rebuild takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and finds your character attempting to rebuild some semblance of civilization in a city he stumbles across. You find some survivors barricaded within a secure few zones and you take the lead on how to keep expanding the safe zone. While certainly not a unique aspect, where Rebuild excels is in how each survivor becomes more proficient in each of their stats as they do a task. This makes it slightly easier each time you need to scavenge for supplies, clear out a zone (or defend your current zones) from zombie hordes, or reclaim a zone for your growing city.
Have a survivor go out on zombie raids and their offense rating improves which makes going again out a less risky proposition for them. Having more combat efficient survivors also adds to the strength of your defenses when zombies hit your growing city and makes death or injury to the group less likely. Keep reclaiming zones or repurpose a bar into apartments for your group to live in and they’re building skill will improve. Thankfully, your citizens can specialize in up to three of the five skills (offense, scavenging, science, building, and leadership), eventually giving your group more options on who does what.
Some of the more quirky things you can find while scavenging are essentially accessories for you and your people. These will add some stat bonuses making it a bit easier to have your survivors do what you assign them to do. From weapons to science books, these items will play a large role in your survivability. You always run the risk of losing these items, but smart assignments will lower the danger rating, making that chance lower. My own character had a dog as his accessory and coming back from a mission with almost negligible risk, the dog was attacked and had to be put down. This lowered my combat rating and also made me a little sad.
The city building aspect also requires forward thinking. You need places for the survivors to reside, food sources, and places that keep them happy. A hospital helps when the inevitable zombie raid causes some injuries. Finding and maintaining that balance leads to some of the tougher aspects of keeping your city growing and safe. You’ll find more survivors to recruit, but you need enough housing for them to consider staying in your city. More people requires more food and scavenging food won’t be enough to keep a growing populace sustained, so you need to take back farm land. You can add a citizen to the farm zone you reclaim to garner more food each turn, but that’s one less hand ready when fighting starts. A church will add some happiness for your group, but there’s always a potential that it could turn into a cult of zombie worshippers. Every decision you make has some chance of biting you in the ass if you’re not thinking ahead, making you just as dangerous to your city as the zombies.
Shit can go wrong in a hurry if you’re not careful. If you have too many people out scavenging when a zombie horde rushes your walls, there’s a good chance people will die and you’ll lose zones. If your happiness level drops too low, fights may start breaking amongst your survivors and people may jump ship and head out on their own.
Graphics – Rebuild won’t be amazing anyone, but the art style makes what zones you’re going after clear. The scenes during zombie raids are a dark comic book style that’s in stark contrast to the almost cheery look of the map. Survivors range from believable looking to downright silly.
Sound – The soundtrack is fitting but does get a bit repetitive if you play for extended periods of time.
Gameplay – The interface is easy to use and understand. The addictive “just one more day” mechanic keeps your iPad (iPhone, iPod, whatever) battery slowly ticking down towards zero.
Story – Multiple endings and a, at times, fairly goofy zombie apocalypse plotline makes playing the game a joy. The writing, which can get a bit repetitive as you log more and more hours into it, is funny and engaging.
Replay Value – Once you finish saving, or not saving, one city, you can take a few of your survivors with you to a new city and try it again with a bigger map and/or a harder difficulty level. The harder the game is, the more time-consuming it becomes and the more forward thinking you have to be.
Overall Length – While it’s possible to beat Rebuild in a 30 minute session, the harder difficulties will find you plotting for hours on end as you try to expand safely so you can keep beating back the ever-increasing number of zombie hordes.
I felt compelled to recommend this game after finding my iPad’s battery starting at full charge to being at 17% when I finally stopped playing. Many of the iOS games lose their luster after an extended sitting, but I keep finding myself coming back to it. Sometimes it’s for a few turns and it lasts about 10 minutes. Other times, I find myself staring at my iPad for a couple of hours. If you’re familiar with my stance on smartphone and tablet games (the first sentence of this article should be enough of a hint), my playing this still should speak to the how addictive and well-designed Rebuild is.