The Walking Dead: Assault Review: Satisfying Squad Shooter
The Walking Dead continues to be the high-quality heir to the Night of the Living Dead cultural crown. Just months after the release of the excellent Walking Dead story game, Skybound gives us The Walking Dead: Assault, a squad shooter that offers some satisfying zombiepocalypse carnage.
In Assault, you build a team of up to four characters from The Walking Dead and send them on missions to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and of course kill lots and lots of zombies. Each character has a melee attack, a ranged attack (except Michonne), and a special power to help them survive. Your task is to keep your squad alive long enough to rid the board of walkers.
The default control scheme takes a little getting used to. With it, you double-tap to move the selected character, but press and hold to move the team. This setup seems to assume you’ll want to move individual characters more often than you’ll want to move them as a team, when really the opposite is true. It’s more efficient and safer to move the team, and double-tap is just a little more efficient for that. Luckily, a recent update allows for the swapping out of these commands.
Once you get the controls down, you can sit back and enjoy the zombie carnage. Playing through the levels is a lot of fun. The difficulty level isn’t too severe, but if you’re not careful you can be swarmed by the living dead. Judicious use of hand weapons (they’re quieter) and level elements are vital to staying alive.
One challenge of the game is finding the right combination of characters. You will probably want to either save up or make an IAP to get Michonne, who’s the best melee fighter in the game; and when you unlock Carol you’ll find her to be pretty invaluable because of her healing ability. I personally prefer Rick, Carol, Andrea, and Michonne, but YMMV.
Adding to the fun are the production values. Like the Walking Dead story game, Assault sticks close to the visual look of the comic book. In this case it even goes so far as to embrace the comic’s grayscale color scheme. This is a great choice. Not only does it look good, but it allows the creators to use colors to highlight important elements in the boards. The influence of the comic book comes through in the levels, as well; these first boards take place in and around Atlanta, while upcoming boards look to visit places like the Prison and Woodbury.
While pathing is generally good, I’m not always a fan of the way characters position themselves. Guns have different ranges, and unless you’re attentive to group movement, characters like Rick will sometimes be out front AND have the longest range, meaning he can blow through ammo a lot faster than, say, Shane. Moving the group in closer to a target helps, but then they stop shooting until they’ve completed their move; the other option is to move team members individually, but by then Rick’s usually taken care of business. Minor, but annoying.
The other knock against this game is that every level has a sort of sameness to it. The mission is always to kill the zombies, and the zombies don’t develop new powers or anything to change things up. Level design shifts, of course, and bigger waves of walkers come at you, and there are secondary quests to achieve, but these don’t completely eliminate the repetitive nature of the core game. And with only 11 levels so far, replayabiltiy becomes repetitive very quickly. Hopefully this will change with the release of new levels.
All in all, The Walking Dead: Assault is a fun time. It’s not a perfect game, but it’s a worthy addition to the Walking Dead franchise.
Our score: 4 out of 5