It's been said before, but needs to be said again: zombies have become vastly over used in games in the past few years. It's easy to see why; they're the perfect enemies. Everyone knows what they are and nobody will be offended at the idea of killing them. As handy as they are for developers, zombies can get monotonous for the players. Thankfully, there are games like Rebuild that try something new with those brain hungry shamblers. Created by Sarah Northway (wife to Colin Northway).
Rebuild is best described as a survival sim with sprinklings of defense and strategy themes. You won't be put in the thick of battle... instead you'll be managing the town, using your mouse to send survivors to do the dirty work. It's after the Zombipocalypse and you're in control of a small group of survivors trying to stay alive. At the beginning, you'll get to name your town, your character and pick their gender. From there, it's time to start surviving. You'll be taken to the randomly generated map screen where you'll be spending the game. Your survivors will start off with a small space of claimed land, but if you're going to survive you'll need to expand. Gaining new land is straight forward. First, send in the soldiers to clear out the zombies from a building that's next to your claimed space, then send in the builders to extend the fence around your new property. You can also send out scouts to explore an area and scavenge for food or send your diplomats out to recruit survivors. Every action will take a certain number of days to complete. When you want to end a day you just click the End Day button.
There's a lot of things you'll need to survive. You'll need food, which can be scavenged from buildings and can be produced by farms. Of course, you'll also need survivors, they're the ones who'll be doing the fighting, building and scavenging for you. Sometimes survivors will show up randomly, but they can also be recruited from unclaimed buildings. Even in such dire times people don't like being cramped, so you better have enough space for them to live. The happiness of your survivors is also a factor and if you need to give them a shot of cheer try building a church or bar. All of these elements will be important if you want to stay alive.
By the way, if you're thinking of just holing up and only venturing out occasionally then let me burst that bubble. Every so often roving bands of zombies will try to get in to your settlement. You'll have to have guards at defensive buildings, such as police stations, to ward them off. You won't have control during these attacks, you'll just have to hope you have enough soldiers to defend your settlement.
There are multiple ways to complete a game of Rebuild, so no matter how you play you should be able to find away to the end. Considering you don't get eaten, that is.
Analysis: Rebuild is such an awesome concept that it's amazing that it hasn't been done before. It's an interesting variation on zombie games and a great idea for a sim game. But it isn't just a cool idea, it's also a fantastic game. It'll eat up your time like it's a zombie and your time is a brain. The game moves as slow or quick as you want it to, so things can be very snappy or you can slow down and think everything over. And you will need to think.
Rebuild can be difficult even on the normal difficulty setting. On easy, it's pretty breezy and you won't run into man snags, which is great if you just want to play through. On the harder difficulty setting you better come to survive. That's not a bad thing; in fact, it's part of what makes Rebuild great. All sim games are really just about balance and Rebuild is no different. You've got to make sure you have enough food and space and that you people are happy and well defended and if one of those factors is out of sync it can lead to problems. You might think, "Well, how can having a lot of extra space for people be bad?" You'll realize that all that space just means more zombies are going to be swarming around you settlement. This need for balance can make the game very tense and exciting.
Rebuild also has a lot of replay value. The randomized map means you won't be playing the same game twice. Unfortunately, it can also lead to very bad set-ups, such as not having any farms or residential areas near your starting block. This can be fixed easily enough by just restarting. There's also plenty of different ways to complete the game and it can be fun to try to figure out the other ways to finish it. Don't worry about ending things too soon as there's a lot of great gameplay to go through before you rest.
While the graphics aren't particularly stand-out and there are a few very minor hitches in the game, Rebuild is a solid, fun, unique and just plan awesome game. Even the small details are well thought out. For example, the game has an option to turn bad language on or off which is such a good idea it's surprising it isn't more common. There are also a lot of random events that can pop up, so even if you're just going through days quickly there will still be things happening. Keep in mind, this is mostly a sim game, so if you're looking to pick up a gun and start mowing down zombies then this isn't the game for you. For anyone looking for or willing to try a different kind of zombie game then start playing Rebuild right now.