I’ve played the tabletop version of Zombicide before, and it was one that I quite enjoyed when played with the right group of people. You see, as with any game with friendly fire, people can sometimes be jerks. But in Zombicide: Tactics & Shotguns, you are able to experience the entire thing in single player on your mobile device.
In Zombicide: Tactics & Shotguns you start off with one lone character, setting out to explore the mission-based levels within the game. This character, named Doug, comes with a bit of a backstory with one focus; food. Everyone in this game wants food, since the zombie apocalypse has happened and survival without food is difficult. Food is won through killing zombies (gross) and through passing missions.
Missions take place in a world that looks very much like the Zombicide board game — in a grid style. Your characters have a set amount of actions, which can be used to move, attack or interact with things within that tile. You’ll need to strategically move around the board, following the mission tasks, in hopes of completing your goals. Some levels want you to destroy all of the zombies there, while others might want you to find objects before making it to an exit tile.
Actions like shooting or breaking doors are done through a digital dice roll, with the chance of missing at the top of the roll. Melee weapons allow you to choose your targets, while guns shoot at whomever they can. Any missed shots, when the tile being shot at has your team on, can hit and take one of the lives of your team members. Your members all have different life counts, and these are limited.
After all of your characters have done their moves the zombies will have a turn to move. They move forward toward you, as well as spawn in if there is a spawning point within the board. After a mission is over, you can go into a screen to update your character and their weapons, as well as swap the weapons they have out. Weapons can be found within levels if you search rooms and claim them. Food is the currency in this game, so you can spend cans on upgrades and such during the game.
Once you get through the tutorial the game gets pretty challenging. I found that I needed to replay levels at times because I had backed myself into a corner full of zombies. Taking your time and making decisions is a big part of Zombicide: Tactics & Shotguns. You can end the level early and use whatever food you have gotten so far to upgrade your weapons, which is very helpful when you get stuck on a specific level for far too long.
Through the story you will be introduced to new characters like Wanda, who does not talk, and Ned, who seems… creepy. These characters sometimes join your team, being present in the next few rounds, or disappear at random because they don’t agree with your mission. As you move forward in Zombicide: Tactics & Shotguns, you’ll continue to grow your team, stash of weapons and the amount of areas you can enter, each full of stronger zombies to take on.
I quite enjoyed the story within the game, complete with its little cutscenes full of text. This added a lot to the game and is not something I remember from the board game, perhaps I didn’t play with the sort of people that enjoyed adding a bit of extra flare through stories. These stories (as well as the zombie’s turn) are also skippable, so if you don’t enjoy them you don’t need to experience them.
Having free range of all of these different characters is also quite fun. Unlike when you play with people who don’t listen, you can make all of the decisions for all of the characters and don’t have to use one character at a time either. This means you can skip around between characters, see how their rolls work and then move other ones before coming back to them previously.
As time progresses you’ll start to face a higher breed of zombie, within the level. When this danger increases your characters will get unique bonus abilities, which are really helpful to continue your fight for survival. Switching between characters to use their abilities is also a key part of the strategy.
I’ve really enjoyed my time with Zombicide: Tactics & Shotguns, which is a truly wonderful, single-player version of the tabletop game. I really only have a few complaints; within the tutorial, it’s not really explained that you can change weapons, nor is the opening of doors/locks explained well — I spent a while trying to attack them by selecting my weapon when I just needed to tap them. Occasionally, the game seemed to glitch, not allowing me to roll dice or pan the map, but apart from these minor complaints it’s a really solid mobile title. I found myself stuck on levels because I had not planned well or used the characters to the best of their abilities; The zombies are always moving forward, so you really do need to keep on going and hoping for more food at the end.
As a fan of the original tabletop game and a fan of games in general, I believe that Zombicide: Tactics & Shotguns is a really well made, challenging strategy game well worth playing.