Facebook Game Face-off: The Walking Dead vs. Zombie Lane
Yeah, we get it: Zombies are a big deal these days. Between everybody's favorite cadaverous creatures getting a starring role on a hit TV drama, seemingly endless movie spots and countless video games, these dead dudes and dudettes are everywhere. They've even invaded your favorite digital hangout, Facebook.
Zombie Lane by Digital Chocolate stood for quite a while as the only major undead-themed game on Facebook. That was, of course, before The Walking Dead blew up. Now, the mega popular show has its own social game, one that aims for the same zombie-loving audience in a markedly different way. With that, we shamble into this week's Facebook Game Face-off.
How Zombies Go ZilchThe Walking Dead on Facebook attempts to capture (what we imagine would be) the immense tension and risk in struggling with--or even shooting--a zombie. With a turn-based, tactical approach to combat, developer Eyes Wide Games did a fine job of it. In this zombie game, your decisions when embattled with walkers matter, with the consequence being death (and eventual undeath, in theory).
Digital Chocolate, on the other hand, boils battles down to mere clicks until the bad guys go poof. Zombie Lane is a lighthearted take on genre, but a bit more action or consequence would be nice. If a zombie strikes you're stunned for a few seconds, which all but diffuses any tension you'd normally expect in fighting an undead person. Craftable weapons aside, the combat in Zombie Lane is about as fierce as a zombie's limp.
We're in this TogetherThe social aspect in The Walking Dead is, to be frank, nearly nonexistent. You can check on your friends' progress (and show off your own) in the harder versions of missions. Other than that is the cute, and largely promotive, hook that sometimes the zombies that you send back through the pearly gates are your friends. Then you're given the option to tell them they've been killed in your game--in other words, "Play this game!" Not fun.
At the very least, Zombie Lane allows players to visit one another and help out in their town. Players can also recruit their friends asynchronously for a few coins to have them help with anything from picking up rubble to laying the smack-down on some cadavers. Granted, it's important to ask whether a zombie game should even be about that, but it's something.
The Re-Death ExperienceIf there's one overall accomplishment that Eyes Wide Games can be proud of, it's for capturing at least a sliver of the tension and drama of living in a zombie-infested world. That's quite the challenge, given the limitations of Facebook and its audience. The repeated use of The Walking Dead theme music gets stale quick, but skillfully sneaking toward and slaying (or failing to slay) a zombie never gets old.
Zombie Lane should be commended for is its attempt at a cute and bubbly take on the undead apocalypse. However, the issue lies in the execution. In toning down the zombie outbreak into something that's quirky and low-stress, Digital Chocolate has all but drained the excitement out of facing the undead.
The Winning Wight is...We're most definitely not fans of the great pains The Walking Dead takes to get a buck out of players (or keep them from playing for too long otherwise). That said, this social game does a fine job of throwing players into what would be the most dire of situations and making them feel that throughout. With its decidedly dark tone and interesting combat, The Walking Dead is the winner of this Face-off. Now, if only we could play the dang thing for longer. Now, how about what you think:
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