REBUILD — A REVIEW

Developer: Northway

Platform: Android (tested on) / PC (yeah, I tried this one too) / iOS

If you ever played the SimCity games you’ll know that the fun part wasn’t designing your own city, planning out commercial zoning and guessing whether you could afford to lower the tax rate – it was hitting the disaster button and watching as earthquakes, alien invasions and Godzilla attacks wiped out your carefully organised streets. It was like being a kid, kicking over your own sandcastle as soon as you built it.

Rebuild is about what comes after that. Some punk has hit the zombie apocalypse button and you’re left with four city blocks, a handful of survivors and a zombie-proof fence. Each turn you split your resources between expansion, recruiting survivors, scavenging for supplies and getting out there to kill the undead. At the end of your turn there’s a chance they’ll attack back, tidal waves of zombies pushing against your boundary until they break through and bite a chunk of the city back off you.

Rebuild began as a browser-based Flash game. It’s one of the only games I’ve seen go from my PC to my phone and gain features rather than losing them in between. The phone version includes extra buildings, including watchtowers and turrets, and new plotlines. As well as sending survivors on missions each turn, various stories advance step-by-step, requiring your input along the way. You might have to decide how to deal with a gang of post-apocalyptic Catholic bikers or a cult who worship zombies in your local church, whether to steal supplies and abandon everyone else or use that lab you found to research a cure. These plotlines lead to different endings, but in a nice touch you can continue playing after you hit one of the finales if you want to see a different one, or just because you’ve grown attached to your town.

I’m pretty attached to mine. Maybe it’s because I’m carrying it around in my pocket with me, cradling it in my hand and watching it grow as I fight to take back City Hall so I can form my own government, maybe try my hand at writing a Constitution. Or maybe it’s because you can name your town anything you want and mine’s called Brisbane.

****1/2

Second opinions: Tom Chick, Toby Moses