Rebuild: Gangs of Deadville is the fourth Rebuild game by Sarah Northway and Northway Games. This is a 4X strategy game where “Sim City meets the Walking Dead” according to the successful Kickstarter page whereby $41,000 dollars was secured on November 2013, nearly doubling the original goal is $25k. With most of the work being done by one person, it’s understandable that this will take some time to fully complete, but in its current state how is the game?
As already mentioned, the gameplay is very akin to a 4X strategy game like Civilization, where the 4 x’s stand for “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate”. You begin the game creating a character to play as, and after setting how you look and what skills you want to have, you go on your merry way. With the other survivors, the idea of the game is to reclaim, or as the title says rebuild, the city you’re in. This is done by eliminating zombies out of areas that aren’t within your borders, scouting ahead, looting for supplies and building structures to ensure yours and your camps survival.
All of the characters bar the player character have specific key abilities or archetypes, which level up when they do more of said ability. One example is characters with a red background, who are fighters or strength characters. These are good for hunting and clearing out zombies, or being on the defensive perimeter to ensure any zombie mobs who try and attack are repelled. Another example are yellow backgrounds, for scavenging characters. These guys get their experience and levels from going into lightly zombified or clear areas and finding supplies such as building materials, food or medicinal supplies. There are three more specialisms, which gives each of the characters a specific role to play in the expanding and managing of the camp.
While you’re busy expanding borders and getting food and happiness levels on the rise, other NPC characters will start to make their presence known. A caravan travels around form time to time, and will either engage with your camp directly or you will be able to go and trade with them manually. The caravan is its own faction, so trading with them fairly and getting in their good books will allow you to try and haggle prices lower and they will come back to see you more often. Another faction that rolls around is the government, who engage with you and can try to force things off of you or your property. Again, choosing to be compliant or rebellious will directly affect your relationship with them, where they could either help you or outright invade your camp and try and take it for their own.
The game does have some downsides though. By the game’s very nature, it’s simplistic. It’s not as an advanced 4X game as the likes of Rome: Total War or Civilization V, so for some people it might not have enough meat within the content to keep them entertained for a long period of time. For a first time player, it was a little confusing what to do right off the bat. I chose to just click around and try things before I got a grasp for things, which worked eventually, but it would be nice to have some sort of tutorial for how to go about the game. This is in early access though, so this is a feature which could be added closer to release.
The game is still in active development. According to the game’s Steam page a lot of features are going to be added between now and the release. Some examples of that are a campaign mode, where you progress through various cities and the game gets harder, hundreds of new random events to occur, and also some sort of way to actually beat the game, with more ways than one to do so. One of the other features being added which I’m personally the most excited about is the idea of a mobile version being created. This kind of game, a casual addictive game with simplistic, colourful graphics seems a perfect for mobile phones and tablets.
My closing thoughts for the game so far is that it’s incredibly enjoyable. The very nature of a good 4X game is that it’s addictive, and the systems in the game so far are definitely going in the right direction for creating that. Even in this early version, v0.653, my first stint of playing the game went for a couple of hours before I realised what time it was. Having this on a mobile platform is a no brainer and I look forward to seeing the game once it’s complete!