The Walking Dead: Assault
Developer: Gamagio Release Date:  November 27, 2012
Publisher: Skybound/Skybound Asia ESRB Rating:   N/A
Platforms:  iOS  MSRP: US$1.99

Following the TV adaptation, The Walking Dead series has achieved a rightfully earned, widespread cult status. And it is no doubt the reason why so many developers are trying their hands at making a video game out of it. With Telltale achieving great success owing to their point and click, emotionally investing episodic adventure of the same name, little known developer Gamagio invades the App Store with their take on the zombie infested world of Robert Kirkman’s comics, titled The Walking Dead: Assault. But is it any good, and more importantly, does it manage to evade the imposing shadow of Telltale’s brilliant series? Read on to find out.

Firstly, Assault is nothing like Telltale’s Walking Dead, except for the fact that this one too is an episodic series with two more to follow this one. For starters, Assault is a top down, isometric strategy game. It loosely follows the same set of chronological events as described in the comics, with the first chapter letting you control Rick as he wakes up in a hospital, having no idea about how he got there. It is a real letdown that the game has no solid storyline, and instead is a collection of unrelated missions. A game based on Walking Dead is expected to have a good storyline at the very least, and Assault fails there.

All your favourite Walking Dead characters feature in Assault.

However, Assault more than makes up for it by delivering some tense situations, and refined, excellently constructed gameplay elements. The game lets you control upto 4 characters, each character being unlocked as you progress. Double tapping anywhere on the screen lets you move a single character, while holding down the finger lets you move the entire group. Each of the characters has special abilities and uses a particular weapon, with Rick sticking by his trusty revolver, Shane getting up, close and personal with his shotgun, and Andrea picking off walkers from afar with her Sniper Rifle. Gamagio deserves bonus points for sticking so close to the source material, with even the individual special abilities of characters being matched spot on. Ricky’s ability lets him land headshots, while Shane can fire without having to reload for a short while, and Glenn putting himself up as walker bait, drawing attention towards him. Characters also confer bonuses that apply to the entire team. All of these elements blend in effortlessly, making it a lot of fun to experiment with different character teams, and finding the one that best suits you.

Controlling four characters at once, each with their own weapons and special abilities makes for some tense encounters with Walkers.

While the chapters themselves are pretty limited in what they ask you to do, they definitely are a whole lot of fun. Each mission has a set number of walkers for you to kill as the main objective, with supplies scattered all over the map for you to collect. The missions also have timers, awarding you in-game achievements if you complete them within a time limit, and also letting you compete with other players. The aforementioned supplies are extremely resourceful as they can be used to upgrade your team’s health, damage caused, ammo capacity and so on. In addition to these, each mission also has a bonus objective for you to complete, such as saving survivors, uniting two lost buddies and so on. In its entirety, Assault promotes the core elements of a true Walking Dead experience: survival, saving fellow survivors and at times kill the ones trying to steal your supplies, scourging for supplies, and above all not attracting attention.

You see, as you fire weapons, it generates sound. Firing rounds in quick succession will fill up the noise meter, and if it completely fills up, a horde of  walkers will swarm you forcing you to run back and kill them one by one. Or in some circumstances, restart the chapter. It’s a brilliant concept, which not only forces you to keep the noise down, but also conserve your ammo and make intelligent use of firearms and melee weapons.

Collecting supplies and using them to purchase upgrades is essential for survival.

You can also use some of the environmental distractions to make your job easier. Setting off car alarms, fire hydrants, and laying out corpses can all be used to distract the walkers, making them easy targets, or letting you slip past unnoticed. If they don’t serve the purpose, you can always deploy a flare, which attracts all nearby walkers and explodes a few seconds later. Classic stuff.

Assault looks and sounds impressive too. The game design has been completely inspired by the comic books, from the very few cutscenes, to the character portraits and almost everything else. Most of the environment is devoid of colour, and only a few points of interest have been assigned subtle hues. It makes for an enjoyable, off beat experience, almost as if you are walking within a comic strip.

The sound design is quite haunting, only coming to the foreground during some of the more intense encounters. Most of the time, the powerful gunshots and the hoarse roars of the walkers fill the quiet, unnerving atmosphere, and it really sets the tone for some grim situations, especially when you are forced to kill fellow humans, only for them to come back as tough-as-nails walkers.

All in all, The Walking Dead: Assault is an excellent addition to the Walking Dead universe. It is fresh, it is tense, and definitely not a walk in the park. It forces you to mind your surroundings and make judicious use of weapons, all the while pitting you against the dreaded walkers and the more dangerous hostile survivors/hunters. If you are a Walking Dead fan like me, or just like well crafted strategy experiences, or both, then Assault is your best bet.

Story: N/A
Graphics: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Gameplay: ★★★★★★★★★½
Audio: ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Balance/Difficulty: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Intangibles: ★★★★★★★★½☆
Overall: ★★★★★★★★½☆

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