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About the Story
Build your character and fight your way out of a zombie-filled city to save your sister in this interactive horror fiction story. Gather supplies and weapons while avoiding the military, bandits, and living dead. Your choices alone control the story. Can you survive the zombie apocalypse?
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual NPC; Nominee, Best Individual PC; Nominee, Best Implementation; Nominee, Best Use of Innovation; Winner, Special Recognition - 2011 XYZZY Awards
Choice Of Reviews
Overall, the game wasn't my cup of tea, but it obviously has its fans, and I can see why. There's plenty of suspense, plenty of gore, and a fair number of stretches that feel compelling and engaging. Once its prose is better edited, its meaningless choices are removed, and its story is, ahem, finished, it'll be worth the time of horror devotees. Until then, the game is kind of a zombie itself, shuffling forward despite its crucial missing organs.
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There are those who claim that zombies symbolise consumerism and mass culture. Perhaps they do, and perhaps some writers and directors use them to explore such issues. But it seems to me that most zombie fiction receives its appeal from that peculiar combination of nostalgia and distrust that forms the core of "apocalypse survivor" scenarios: nostalgia for the old U.S.A. frontier values (radical self-reliance, man's ability to form small groups that can survive in a hostile environment) and distrust of one's fellow men and especially the government. Add to the that facile good versus evil thinking that zombies encourage more than any other type of monster -- being unconscious, they cannot even be in the right from their own point of view, since they have none -- and you can understand why the genre might be attractive to some, and also what is so dubious about it.
Zombie Exodus is a typical example of the genre. It is focused on survival, and the player is supposed to ransack apartments and loot bodies in order to get food and weapons. A deep paranoia about government runs through the work: police and army are not there to protect people, but only to hinder them. Luckily, the game does have a strong focus on the most interesting part of the zombie theme: issues of trust and loyalty between the survivors. This is its redeeming grace, and what makes the game worth playing. (The more pity that, in the end, my character made a choice in this regard which I strongly disagreed with and tried not to make.)
Jim Dattilo gives us a competently written and designed piece of CYOA. The choices are often a bit generic (take short but dangerous road A or take long but safe road B), and compared to the Choice Of games they are fairly close together and at a fairly low level of detail. In this regard, Zombie Exodus feels close to parser-based IF, and misses something of the wild exuberance and sense of possibility that CYOA can evoke. On the positive side, this does mean that the connection between what we choose and what happens in tighter, and Zombie Exodus does a good job of putting us in situations that we can easily visualise and make decision about based on rational expectations of what will result from different courses of action.
Unfortunately, the game is unfinished, and stops after the second part. One might want to wait until the exodus can be finished.
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