End Night HD, a creepy zombie apocalypse survival tale from Ben Falcone is now available from the app store. Despite its solid premise and creepy atmosphere, End Night HD is ultimately done in by wonky controls, overly aggressive zombies, and a general lack of bone-chilling excitement.
End Night HD Pros:
- Dark and dreary presentation reinforces apocalyptic setting
- Creepy, ambient soundtrack
- Dual-stick controls with auto-aiming and context-specific buttons
- Item placement randomization and character upgrades all bits of replay value
End Night HD Cons:
- Speed and aggressiveness of zombies, coupled with need to stop to pick-up/use items, makes gameplay difficult
- Graphics and clunky animations give the game an unpolished feel
- Controls don’t always work as expected
- No social gaming network integration
As one of the two remaining members of your team to avoid infection thus far, you set out to collect colored samples in the hope of finding a cure for the illness that has rendered nearly all of humanity as zombies. Before venturing into the bleak and shadowy world, you’ll need to select a weapon. The pistol has plenty of ammo, but doesn’t pack a great punch and isn’t as accurate as one would hope. The shotgun packs a wallop, but has fairly limited ammo. The axe is lethal, but it requires you to get up close and personal with the undead. You can collect the other weapons while wandering around the city, but your initial selection sets the tone. You begin in your lab, with a zombie strapped to the table for testing purposes. After your initial cure attempt fails, you’ll need to head out to find a specific-colored sample. Easy access to a city map marked with locations of the various samples and other key items is your only saving grace. As soon as you head out into public, you’ll start attracting walkers who will seemingly pop out of nowhere with surprising speed. The game becomes a difficult balance of fighting off the brain munchers while trying to collect items, scrub yourself clean of spattered blood, take in food and drink to keep your strength up, and other tasks that require you not to be attacking. It is in these moments that the greatest difficulty is found. Death is fairly swift, with no clear cut indication of how close you are to succumbing to bites and scratches other than the screen becoming redder and redder. We would have liked to see slower-moving zombies, checkpoints, or anything to give casual gamers a fighting chance. Most actions earn points, which can be used to upgrade your character’s abilities, which carryover beyond death. It’s possible that a fully-upgraded character will make the game significantly more enjoyable, but the length of time to get there is likely to cause many gamers to abandon ship early.
Graphically, End Night HD is dark, making it difficult to play during the day or in bright conditions. While this lends an air of danger and mystery to the game, it seems that the degree of darkness has limited it playability to some degree. Your viewpoint is isometric, giving you a pseudo-top-down angle that makes it difficult to tell where some doorways are, as well as blocks your view of other items against near walls. Since your character takes up a good deal of the screen space and there is no zoom-out option, it is tough to anticipate oncoming baddies until they are right on top of you. Fending them off isn’t all that difficult, with dual-stick control options for moving and aiming/shooting. The aim/shoot button, however, requires no directional input from the gamer. Simply tap it to enter aiming mode, where your character targets the nearest zombie and tap again to shoot. Context-specific buttons appear to allow you to interact with nearby objects, though you must be stationary to do so. Collecting samples requires several undisturbed seconds, which are few and far between. Sadly, the buttons aren’t nearly as responsive as they need to be, often not functioning or causing weird speed ups. The soundtrack is ambient and creepy, adding to the bleak environment.
Replay value is middling, as purchased upgrades will certainly make the playthroughs feel different, and the random nature of the placement of certain objects (food, health packs, Bibles, etc.) adds some challenge to subsequent attempts. A separate Nightmare mode is unlocked by completing the game in its normal difficulty, for those who enjoy such things. There is no social gaming network integration, leaving us feeling as cut off from society as our character in the game. An iPad-only offering for $2.99, End Night HD is a somewhat disappointing 3-Dimple effort.
End Night HD Review,