Road Trip Through the Valley of Death: Zombie Road Review

Road Trip Through the Valley of Death: Zombie Road Review

Disclaimer: I received a prototype version of this game to review.
Please Note: This review is for a pre-release prototype. Game experience may change before final release.

Overview

Broken A/C, questionable food, and restrooms straight out of a horror movie are the least of your worries when you travel the Zombie Road.  Disaster and zombies will always be just a bad card draw away.

Positives

  • Quick playtime
  • Very little downtime

Negatives

  • The card design could be improved. The biggest problem is that the character cards have the same back as the rest of the cards. This makes it easy for the character cards to get lost in the deck.
  • The rules could be clarified a little more. Especially what actions players can take on behalf of another player in cooperative mode.

Gameplay

Players start with a hand of three cards and a single-use character perk. The perk depends on the character the player chooses or is randomly assigned. This perk is usually very useful and can save you from certain doom, but only once.

Each turn a player draws a card from the deck and takes whatever action is mandated by the card. The result of each draw can be mile cards, weapons, aid cards, master cards, disasters, or the walking dead coming by for dinner.

Mile cards are ultimately what you really want. These cards are what you use to accumulate miles. Every other beneficial card in the game is just to buy yourself a little more time to travel the distance needed to outrun the zombies and win the game. The distance you need to travel depends on the mode of play, difficulty, and the number of players.

Weapon cards allow you to kill zombies before they can do the same to you. Aid Cards allow you to overcome disasters and can double as a mile card in a pinch. Master Cards have a self only benefit that helps you overcome a disaster.

Now, cards you would rather avoid are Disaster cards and Zombie cards. Disasters hinder you in some way: cannot accumulate miles, lose a weapon, can’t use a weapon and so on.

Finally, if miles are the cards you really want, zombies are the cards you want to avoid like the plague they are. It only takes one of these undead pests to kill you, and when that happens you lose all progress you have made. And just a friendly bit of info… You’re going to die. Unless you are really really lucky, you are going to die… a lot.

Analysis

Zombie Road is a challenging game that you will either like or hate. The game is very random, and there isn’t much in the way of strategy or tactics. You can literally lose the game on the first turn, or you may not run into trouble for several rounds. And there isn’t any real way to influence the outcome of a turn. Players either have a card or perk that will prevent doom, or they do not. Either way, there is no way to adequately prepare for your shambling foes. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, and this could make Zombie Road frustrating for some players.

On the other hand, Zombie Road simulates the probable outcome of a zombie plague. Weapons are lost, cars run out of gas, you break an arm or a zombie you could not prepare for takes a bite out of you before you can defend yourself. In Zombie Road death and disaster are your constant companions. Prepare all you want. Sooner or later you are going to be at a disadvantage, and when you are the merciless deck of cards is going to be your worst enemy. Sometimes you will get lucky, and the next card is harmless, or even helpful. But sooner or later luck is going to run out. Just hope you have made it far enough before it does.

My Verdict

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed playing Zombie Road. It isn’t a thinking game, but it does have a good amount of tension when you are facing that next unknown card, and you have nothing in your hand that will help you if things go south. Zombie Road is a fun filler game that makes a nice little snack between gaming sessions. Don’t expect it to be the main course though.

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