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Approaching Horde!



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(based on 10 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

It's officially hit the fan! Cause, unknown. There's no time to worry about that now anyways...there's a zombie horde approaching! Your job...gather as many survivors as you can and hold out for as long as possible. You'd be the hero if you can find a cure, but digging an escape tunnel might be a good insurance policy.

Game Details


49th Place - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)


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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A real-time resource management zombie Twine game, October 20, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

In this game, you have a brief introduction explaining how zombies have caused an apocalypse, and then you become the commander of a base that needs to defend from zombies.

As commander, you have people you can assign to tasks. In the Easy Mode I played in, there were 6 roles (farmer, builder, etc.) each with several subtasks. It was overwhelming at first, especially when different bars started counting down in real time, but once I realized how slow it was I realized there was tons of time to make decisions.

Maybe too much time; the game got a little repetitive pretty quickly. I focused on farming and finding more survivors until those maxed out, then built a research base and focused on finding a cure.

Overall, the writing was goofy, but descriptive and vivid, and the simulation held together surprisingly well. I think it could have used a bit more variety though; I spent most of the game with the game in a side window just running, waiting for it to be done.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Efficient real-time resource management and humor, too, December 29, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Me and all caps don't get along so good all the time. Well, almost none of the time, to be honest, if I'm not the one typing 'em. And when an author puts their name in ALL CAPS, that's a bold move that could BACKFIRE! The author furthermore doubles down with a zombie game. Many of you may not remember IFComp back in 2010, but there were a lot of zombies in the entries back then. It was a weird coincidence, but then, each year there's sort of bound to be one of them. I'll cut the birthday paradox-related calculations here. And I was sort of tentative looking at this game. The introduction seemed like it was going for humor, which seemed odd for a zombie game, and I wasn't sure what to expect. Bluntly, I wasn't optimistic.

As it turns out, I played AH three times before even starting on a review for the authors' forum, and it turned out to be one of those gapper entries I play before more serious IFComp stuff (Anything too complex and I, uh, turn into a zombie and procrastinate.) It's really not a text adventure, and it may not be a great fit for IFComp, but it gives great fun for relatively little investment. It's more a real-time resource game where you can, if you want, just plug things in and let them run. It takes twenty minutes, under the half-hour it says it does in IFComp, and it's almost all big-picture stuff. You are in charge of a fortress the zombies will eventually break through, but until then, you can maybe build tunnels are research a cure for the zombie infestation or try to kill the zombies. I tried killing them. It failed.

There was a lot to digest at first. You assign people to jobs: Farmers, Guards, Builders, Researchers, Hunters, Scavengers. You can recruit more people with hunters and scavengers, or you can go out and kill zombies. Farming is necessary for food, and there's also a morale component. It's pretty relaxing, for a zombie apocalypse, with the main problem being clicking the pluses and minuses to switch people from one task to another. At the end, you are the star of a newspaper article, for better or worse, and you get a notebook log of your time in the bunker. The first time I read this, a few things at the start of the story clicked. I suppose I wasn't quite ready for the humor the author threw at me, so I'm glad I backtracked. Things made more sense the second time through, and I knew what to expect. I realized I was supposed to be laughing a bit more than I did

I confess I went in for easy mode (there are normal and hard,) but the in-game help (a note on the wall) points out that you can actually lose survivors who find your compound because, you know, it's risky hunting out there at the higher levels! It also contains mechanics for roughly how often hunters find supplies, and so forth. And I simply watched as the progress bars filled up–they start once you assign people to groups. Each one can have up to four tasks, and when they're filled, improvements happen. For instance, farmers can either create food or increase production. Research can increase maximum food production. So it's multi-layered. Recent events are presented in a sort of ticker-tape display, where you allocate resources but above the game-hint and general ground observation parts.

I never had food or happiness bottom out, but I had survivors not join because I seemed low on food. Now I've played through a few times, I wonder if I missed a funny ending based on losing all my survivors or food. At least on easy mode, it's not hard to win. I indeed got the cure the first time, and I escaped with 30 of my 50 companions on the second, trying to build a tunnel. Trying to shoot down the zombie hordes by building up crazy firepower failed. As I played through I also realized some allocations were wasted on easy mode (e.g. the radio tower, since I wasn't losing survivors) and also that I could get away with skimping on food or happiness, and I saw ways to help keep my troops lean and mean. I bet there are more.

Horde! definitely falls on the game side of the game/story continuum, and I'm glad it did. It's good enough that the author has earned the right for sure to present his name in all caps. It fits in well with the unsubtle, confident humor. I could see myself replaying on medium or hard. I like how I was able to get up and walk away for a few minutes, or switch tabs. Maybe zombie apocalypse simulators shouldn't be so stress-free, but I enjoyed being able to poke around, and it certainly put me in a more welcoming mood for the more serious zombie entries that might be ahead. It's legitimately replayable, too. So, Mr. CRAIG RUDELL, well done. Oops. WELL DONE.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Dizzying at first but surprisingly fun, October 8, 2022

The onset of the zombie apocalypse begins right as you are watching TV. With the world thrown into chaos, fellow neighbors become fellow zombie survivors. A house is transformed into a survival base, and you are nominated as leader. But, in the distance there is a whole horde of zombies coming your way. You will have to prepare.

This is a stat/resource management game where you assign tasks to other characters. After a short intro you are given ten survivors to order about. It was intimidating at first to see all the elements that you need to manage, but the implementation becomes nicely streamlined.

In the center of the screen is a big grey chart. The first left hand chunk of the chart organizes survivors into six groups: Farmers, Guards, Builders, Researchers, Hunters, and Scavengers. You choose how many survivors are in each group and specify their task. Statistics for each group are on the right side of the chart along with additional stats such as the group's happiness levels. Seeing all that was the overwhelming part for me. Numbers, percentages, the whole thing. But this soon changed.

The left side of the screen has a column of status bars that show the completion of the tasks assigned to each group, providing a nice visual indicator of your progress. Interestingly enough, the gameplay also takes place in real time. The game conveniently lists updates in timestamped orange text below the chart to summarize the impacts of your choices. It did not take long for me to familiarize myself with everything. Then things became fun.

I like how the author adds a little touch of atmosphere. There is a section of text at the bottom of the screen that lets you “visit” each area of your base, such as a radio tower or underground tunnel. There is not much to do in them. For the most part, they are just cosmetic. But being able to lightly interact with them as you expand your hideout was a nice detail. The author seems to have a lot of creative ideas.

A challenge, perhaps?
This game has adjustable difficulty. Easy mode, normal mode, hard mode.

Hard mode is considerably trickier because it is challenging to recruit survivors. In the first two modes if you send out a party to look for them you always manage to find at least one. But in hard mode they are more likely to come back empty handed. Survivors are critical to getting things done. The more survivors assigned to a task, the faster the task is completed. What should you do? Use your current survivors to find recruits at the expense of completing immediate tasks, or devote them to immediate tasks without increasing population size? You can try both but at the end of the day, those zombies seem outpace you. It took forever to beat hard mode, but I eventually did.

Approaching Horde! is not a particularly grim zombie game. Its tone maintains a light heartedness that presents the zombie apocalypse in a more comic light without sacrificing the urgency of the situation. You go from channel surfing on your couch to commanding a group of zombie survivors. At the end of the game, (Spoiler - click to show) you are presented with a journal that the PC wrote about the experience with surprisingly cheerful entries. Even the bad endings, where you get zombified, are meant to be a bit humorous. I thought that the intro was especially funny and starts the game off on a strong note.

Your spouse has ran towards you so quickly, that you're knocked to the ground and your spouse is literally on top of you!

Normally this would be a good thing, but in this case your spouse has already turned and joined the ranks of the undead.

I feel that most interactive fiction games about zombies try to add a dash of humor. In this case, I do not mean games that take play in an apocalypse setting where people are turned into zombie-like beings by a fictious pathogen designed by an author. Those games are also awesome. I highly recommend playing Alone, another IFComp game that came out in 2020 (but made with Inform, not Twine). Some argue that Alone is a zombie game, and with solid reasoning. I can see why. Agreed. But it does not quite fit with what I have in mind here.

When I say zombie games, I mean games that blatantly advertise the fact that it is a zombie story where everything in the gameplay screams, we-are-living-in-a-zombie-apocalypse apocalypse. Out of every game that I have played that fits this category they all seem to instill some underlying humor or irony rather than 110% doomsday destruction. This is not a bad thing. Just something I did not realize until I played Approaching Horde! Then again, I am only basing this off the games I have seen so far. Feel free to share recommendations.

There are hardly any specific characters. There is Phil, your former neighbor, but he only gets a small mention. But no complaints. That works just fine with this storyline and format.

This is one of those stories where every survivor possesses the skills to become a biomedical researcher or farmer at the drop of the hat. Realistic? Probably not, it is a management game where you do not need to look too closely.

I already gave an overview of some of the visuals, so here is a deeper analysis. The design is not flashy, but simple and functional. Basic colours are used for drop-down menus, numbers, and other details while the status bars have some bright colours that change as they increase or decrease. All of this is set against a black background. Basic but attractive. Most importantly though, above all else, the text is large and easy to read.

Fancy effects are fun and encouraged, but detailed management games that go wild with visual effects can make it difficult to read and, you know, manage the content. This game keeps it easy to look at, and simple to use. There are some spelling errors that were noticeable but ultimately it has a polished and clear-cut look.

Final thoughts
This game has already roped me into playing about a dozen times. The gameplay is moderate in length, and it is fun to experiment. You may like this game if you are into zombies or resource management, or both. I suggest giving it a test run in easy mode to get acquainted to the gameplay mechanics, but there is a good chance that you will be reaching to play it again, perhaps in other modes. And if you feel otherwise, that is fine. It is just worth a try.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting proof of concept, disappointing humour, May 27, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: ifcomp

~~ Updated Review from the 2022 IFComp bc I played the game again ~~

Approaching Hordes! is part Choice-based, part Resource Management in a basic SugarCube UI, following the player has he leaves his infected family behind and tries to survive hordes of zombies.

The game start with a short prologue, spanning a couple of days, where you notice an increase of gunshots in the neighbourhood and order your wife to check it out (day 0); wake up, find your neighbour informing you of the zombie apocalypse, find your wife having turned into s zombie and Mike-Tyson-punch her, and set up camp (day 1); constructing a guard tower (day 2, very quick); and becoming unanimously the leader of the 11 survivors (day 3).

Then starts the Resource Management. At the time of the first review, I had not seen many Twine games doing something that was not Choice-Based (aside from my own little tavern). Instead of taking the traditional approach of a choice list to resolve issues, Approaching Hordes! combines the Idle game format to managing the compound and its resources. It is an interesting way of pushing the SugarCube/Twine engine in this manner. You have three levels of difficulty. I've played only on Easy and Medium.

However, it soon becomes tedious, and I would put the blame on the idleness of the game. Resource management is very fun, as having to balance the use and harvest of set resources can be challenging but also quite rewarding. Idle games, on the other hand, often requires you to step away from the game and leave it on in the background. Except you can't do that here. Closing and reopening the game brings you right back to the moment you left it. Leave the page idle for too long or change tabs and it just... pauses. You have to keep the page open and focused, watching the bar fill up slowly.

There is nothing else to do in the meantime, no extra story, no dialogue with the other survivors, no personal thoughts... just sitting at a desk and moving people around.

Granted the first quarter(-ish) of that part is a bit stressful. You only have 10 survivors with you out of the max 50, you need to make sure you have enough food, that there are guards around, that the compound is secure and repaired, and that the camp is happy. But as soon as you max out the survivors (which can be preeeettttyyyy quick), you are essentially done. It's just a matter of moving a few of the survivors around to the relevant ending (escaping or cure).

The first time I played the game (during the IFComp), I got incredibly bored and just let my survivors die/leave camp halfway through (all forced to build that tunnel, waiting for the end link to appear on my screen (I think I got a bad ending). This time, I tried to be more diligent and finished the zombie cure. But by jove was it tedious. I was legit writing this review at the same time to fill my waiting between moving one or two survivors around.

Depending on the path taken (win/lose - cure/escape), you will have a bit of a different ending from a news-cliping, before you are able to see the different important steps of your journey in a notebook. But those are just two screens. And after spending all this time waiting and clicking stuff every few minutes or so, it honestly felt unrewarding (especially when I freakin found the cure!!).

Suffice to say, it still didn't tickle my bone the second time around either...

Some other points:

* there is humour in the text, but it really wasn't to my taste. The jokes and the nudges fell flat or forced. It often made me cringe, but not in a enjoyable way.
* I still don't know if you are supposed to like the protagonist at all (from the text, I don't think so?), but I thoroughly hated him. He is an absolute dick (especially to his wife) but somehow everyone thinks the sun shines from his ass (how you get the leadership still astounds me).
* I wasn't particularly moved by the prose, and often felt a bit uneasy by the tone flipping too abruptly from comedy to action to "horror". Part of it is probably because I loathed the protagonist.
* while the visual was simple, there was issues with refreshing the page (which reloaded everything) and with the contrasting of the text (especially when choosing the action in the resource management block).

As a proof of concept (Resource Management Idler in Twine), it worked. This game really tried something new (in my book) with the interactiveness and that should be commendable. But the fiction of it all was really eh.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Braaaaains. And Speed!, December 7, 2022
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review

Zombies have had quite the cultural arc, haven’t they? From their racist beginnings, to Romero’s definitive lo-fi masterpiece, to gorehound cutting edge horror to ubiquitous then backlash to now just a cultural staple. I mean there are zombie musicals, comedies, heist pictures(!), romances, its just a whole thing. Somewhere along the way their metaphorical power was diluted, but is still endlessly malleable (not unlike vampires).

Surprising no one, the genre is a great fit for a a tower defense/resource allocation game. My first introduction to the game was trepidation - I’ve learned to be wary of this engine’s graphical presentation which errs just on the side of Notably Intrusive most of the time. Some early spelling and grammar errors also were a little concerning. There was some clumsy action sequence blocking where mid attack, suddenly the zombie was still approaching but almost immediately the tone not only saved it but started leading the charge. (Spoiler - click to show)As you are being attacked by the shambling remains of your spouse, the narration observes (para) “…normally a good thing…” This really cemented the breezy tone that had been building to that point, and set the stage perfectly. After this, to the extent that spelling and grammar were an issue the tone easily sailed you past.

As you segue to the defense portion, the graphical presentation really starts to shine: the simple but effective use of screen, color, task selection dropdowns, and status bar tracking made for a seamless and pleasant cockpit to steer your crew of hardy survivors. As it is a timed game, especially appreciate that scrolling is almost never needed. The roles you need to juggle are well thought out, and crisply implemented. The tasks all make sense, in the logic of the game, and like a real apocalypse it's not clear where to focus your energies at first so you wing it and fire and adjust. All in the face of a doomsday timer in the form of an incoming zombie horde.

You’re balancing survival/happiness against crucial future building tasks, on a timer. The timer started to move a touch slow (actually I was probably moving faster) as the game went on, I could see tweaking to subtly speed that up as the game progresses but definitely not at first. Even as you are in a frenzy of your survival balancing act, the wry tone periodically keeps you smiling. At one point my zombie researchers, after quite a long research effort, concluded “zombies cannot be reasoned with.” Lol, no sh*t researchers, why are we feeding you again?

And then its over! A short denouement and you get to read about your score in an amusing news story. This is a kind of slight, short game, but it is such a winning mix of tone, tension and logistical puzzle that I have to say I was Engaged. It does what it wants to really well, and knows to leave before it wears out its welcome. I would call it “Notably Intrusive” for its occasional writing clunks and slight drag before the end. None of that degraded my enjoyment for sure.

Played: 10/29/22
Playtime: 40 min, 8 survivors, down from a peak of 21
Artistic/Technical rankings: Engaging/Notable
Would Play Again? Very likely. It’s somewhere between an Adventure Snack and a full meal. Second Breakfast?

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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