At outset, APOC TOWN ($1.00) seems to be on the right track. It pairs two of my favorite things; the visual style and general feel of the developer’s previous, Loot or Die1, and those always fun and rascally-ambitious enemy types, zombies. Granted, zombies have overstayed their welcome in everything that’s videogame and pop culture, but they’re hungry for flesh and dead already, making them the perfect antagonists for any project. Yet even with that can’t-miss pairing of ideas, the game isn’t very fun. Or forgiving.

APOC TOWN - Screen

Part of that is due to the apocalyptic setting and its approach to survival. Though APOC TOWN isn’t specifically what some would call a ‘roguelike’, it very much plays and feels like one in that you only have one life to live2, with your progress reset if you should die (or fail to save your game!). Despite its simple appearance, the game is much more complicated than it looks. Rather than going around wantonly bashing in skulls3, you must constantly be scrounging around for materials and ammunition, repairing or finding new weapons (because they will break, often), and crafting what you need in order to live to see another day.

You’ll occasionally get help. Similar to Survivalist (but not nearly as deep), there’s a heavy emphasis on community in APOC TOWN, slowly building up your initial starting point into a working enclave of A.I. survivors.  You’ll recruit others to populate your home base via a handful of preset mission types (rescue, hunt, mercy…), which in turn increases your available pool of resources. You can also find help from actual, breathing humans, as the game supports up to four players online (or via system link, if that’s an option).

And playing with others seems to be the route APOC TOWN wants you to take. Surviving in a zombie-infested apocalypse isn’t easy, naturally, but to make matters even more pressing, the game dials up the difficulty every ‘day’ you and your group survive, throwing even more zombified creatures (birds, dogs, larger zombies) and mobs your way. Given the scarcity of ammo, crafting materials, and medicine, it’s a hell of a lot to account for. If you’re going on alone, the game doesn’t really allow you to survive.

APOC TOWN - Screen2

If you’re seeing this on your screen, you’re lucky.

That isn’t so much of a problem if you have friends to share the load, but with XBLIG’s notoriously-absent online community, you’re never guaranteed to find anyone waiting in the co-op lobby4. Even then, the impetus to expand your base and find better gear is lacking due to the daily repeating objectives and the unrealistic amount of resources required to do so. There’s flashes of some interesting mechanics at work here, to be sure, but it’s not enough.

The resulting game is a mixed bag of genres and ideas, some that work… versus those that really don’t. On the one hand, APOC TOWN is a challenging take on survival horror, with a good amount of depth and too many intricacies to go into in just one article. And on the other, it’s a fickle and unforgiving game that basically refuses to be played solo. The TL;DR: Worthwhile if you have friends on standby willing to help, but alone, it’s far too frustrating to stick with.

  1. With touches of State of Decay and even ZombiU, among the usual ‘zombie game’ conventions. 
  2. Well, technically, that’s not true. Though your starting character can and probably will die, horribly, and losing all of his or her stuff, you will immediately take control of another survivor back at your camp. Assuming you’ve done your job and recruited survivors, that is. No man is an island. 
  3. Not advisable, since doing literally anything depletes your agility. Be very selective when bashing in skulls, my friend. 
  4. And I never did. 

16 thoughts on “REVIEW: APOC TOWN”

  1. This game killed me. Then it killed me again. Then once more it killed me. I waited a few days then it killed me. I play at night and it kills me. I play during the day and it kills me. I’m starting to think I suck at this game.

    Block King 2? I’m down so now instead of Zombie Bots and Zombie Block King Bots killing me. My friends can kill me.

    1. Ha, sounds veerrrry familiar. I had the same problem, albeit slightly better. Well, I should say the game dragged out my death for a few days before eventually taking me out. :/

      And… of course!… we’ll all be more than happy to take you out in Block King 2 when that time comes. That’s what pals are for. 😀

    2. Apoc town requires way more strategy than the average zombie game. I know of maybe three people total who have survived since the game was released.

      The fact that you’re killing every zombie you see early on is why you’re dying. You can easily outrun them and grab loot until you’re in better shape to kill them (2-4 damage instead of 1).

      I only killed a lot of zombies when I needed to level a character up, otherwise I snuck around, coop or not.

      Materials are easier to come by if you spam complete missions.

      Once your base is fully built (by day 5 or 6) you have an advantage over the game. At that point I murdered half my population to prevent resource issues and dug in for a challenging war of attrition.

    3. @Chris: I think it may have more to do with my random (bad) luck than any choices I’m making. I never went out intending to kill every zombie I saw, but it depended on the mission type. For ‘rescues’, I’d avoid combat and search for the person, fighting only when they’d give chase and I couldn’t get past (then again, I had to watch my energy, or I’d wind up in a crawl and get swarmed).

      What I’d get stuck with was a series of ‘mercy’ missions, and for whatever reason, I’d have to fight a lot of zombies on my way to the objective. The loot containers would never carry additional weapons for me (food… fooooood, that’s what I’d find, and always get rewarded with it at mission end), or if they did, they’d be melee weapons that broke after a mission or two. Materials-wise, I’d never find enough, so I could never upgrade the base or fix my weapons. Bullets were extremely hard to come by.

      I can see what you were going for here with the game, and for a small, select group of people, they may find success with it. Challenging is exactly what it is, strategic to a degree, but there’s still a handful of unfair aspects to it that more or less closes it off to a larger group of players, ones that either can’t figure out the game’s way it wants you to play (and it definitely wants you to play a certain way), or others that don’t have the patience for the slow grind / RNG-ness of it. I still think it needs to be played in co-op to fully appreciate it.

    4. I guess since my game playing time is very little to none these days I just don’t have the patience like I used to. Old age kicking in maybe? I never tried to slaughter the zombies I just tried to control my jumping and anyways I wasn’t able to figure it out. Maybe I’ll get into it sometime but really I bought that and Block King 2 in support of you more than anything else. I mean I think those are the only games of yours that I have that I actually purchased and I think I have 5 or 7 of them now.

  2. Glad to read I’m not the only one who struggles at this game. Take away my gun and I am USELESS in a zombie apocalypse, evidently. It still is fun, albeit brief (‘cos I die pretty quickly!). ; )

    1. Haha, I actually did pretty well once the ammo ran out (melee weapons are slower, but sturdier… and hey, you don’t have to reload them 🙂 ), but yeah, it was still about 50/50 for my odds of surviving.

      Funny story, my original starting character almost always got killed off quickly, while the survivors I attracted to my camp held their own much better, despite sometimes having worse gear and weapons. Odd.

  3. Yes, the game is freaking difficult and on Day 5 it just gets insane. But you know what? Personally I like it that way. It’s a survival game after all, and surviving a zombie apocalypse should never be easy.

    But I get what you’re saying, it can be quite frustrating at times. Perhaps it’s not that easy to find the right balance between fun and challenge.

    Anyhow, bought the game the day it got released and didn’t regret it. And there’s always something cool about sneaking through a town in the middle of the night, looking for stuff to scavenge, while avoiding and / or fighting off the undead.

    Cool game, Chris!

    1. Oh yes, my good sir, it is really hard to find that balance between frustrating and exhilarating. I knew you’d probably appreciate that challenge, and I’m sure others will too. I just think it takes that challenge too far, and doesn’t really leave you any option for succeeding once you’ve… painted yourself into a zombie-colored corner, I guess. 😀

      Co-op would be the logical way to get around this and the random spikes in difficulty, but as a game on a predominately singleplayer service, I’m thinking it should be tailored more towards that solo crowd, rather than hoping you’ll find someone to help ‘sherpa’ you through the tougher moments.

      That said, I can absolutely see where you’re coming from (the apocalypse IS an apocalypse, of course), and I still have to give Chris a lot of credit for supporting XBLIG the way he has, and continuing to evolve his style of game. It’s not going to be for everyone, and I guess it’s just not for me either.

  4. But hey, want to take on the zombie apocalypse yourself, review be damned!? I’ve been given eleven (11!) codes for the game, thanks to the gracious Mr. Antoni. So, uh, simply reply to this comment1, and, you, uh, get a code. Because there’s plenty. Don’t be shy.

    1. You may have to be patient and wait until I get home from work, however, so don’t expect an instant reply. 
    1. From work… that what all the stripper says, brb Im with a client, and guess what, they never come back again. I saw two games that interested me, Harzarcon Tactics and Block Kings 2, the second my guess is online only and in this indie era that is a problem, oh, and I want a code 😉

    2. Yes, please. Any day is good for me. Derp: you have a Twitter account? That’s how some of us – including Headache4u – stayed “in touch” about gaming days.

    3. @xionix55: Hey, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from playing XBLIGs, it’s never trust a stripper in a zombie apocalypse. That’s just solid advice from me to you. 😉 Block King 2 is best enjoyed while playing online, but it does have AI Bots for offline play, so there is that. Oh, and code will be on its way shortly.

      @paddi101: Code is yours! Check your email in a bit.

      @Derp & andregurov: Sunday night might work for me (wasn’t that our usual schedule for the original game, too? 🙂 ), but yeah, we can iron out a playtime on here and / or the Twitters, whatever works best for you guys.

    4. Wise words Timmy, you can’t trust anything that bleeds a lot every month and does not die, and thx for the code 🙂
      And kudos to Chris, he has been very active keeping Xblig alive.

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