Most zombie survival games are centered around ruthlessly killing undead abominations in action-packed settings. However, Zogma is made for the tactical strategy crowd, who has lately been left out. For the most part, it gets the job done well.
In Zogma, you play as up to three stationary survivors who stand behind a base, mowing down the zombies who scramble towards you. At the beginning of a game, your sole survivor starts with a pistol, but as he kills zombies he gets the funds to purchase base reinforcements, upgraded weapons, and the services of other survivors. If the zombies wipe out your entire party, it’s game over.
This premise contains a lot of quirks. First and foremost is how you utilize the three vantage points of the survivors. Depending on where they stand, their cone of vision changes. For example, the survivor in the middle will have a broader view of the field while the other two watch the sides.
You can move survivors from point to point by drawing lines to where you want them to go. If zombies get through to an unguarded point, they will destroy it and in you’ll lose access to that survivor slot, which usually means you’re going to lose.
That’s gonna smell if we don’t clean it up.
We also liked how you have to carefully manage your purchases. At the start of the game, income rolls in slowly. This forces you to carefully choose what is most important to survive longer. The great thing about Zogma is that there isn’t a ‘wrong’ way to play, and finding your own strategy is part of the fun.
You can buy three weapons in Zogma: a shotgun, machine gun, and sniper rifle. Each has its own special use. For example, the shotgun fires multiple shots at once, while the machine gun rapidly fires single shots in succession. To activate the special moves for these two, you must manually control the character’s shots. The sniper rifle is a bit different: it can run through multiple zombies at once and tapping on a specific enemy activates the special move.
The last type of zombie-killing weaponry at your disposal is a grenade. At the end of each day, you are awarded with one grenade that can blow an entire horde to pieces. It’s always rewarding to see the comic-book onomatopoeia like BOOM! pop up onscreen.
Many types of zombies come after you in this infestation. You have the classic slow-moving creepers, sprinting kamikazes, stalkers who throw some sort of glowing balls at you from a distance, and hulking bosses who will crush you alive.
A fast-forward button allows advanced players to challenge themselves and hone their strategy at a relentless speed. It also makes the game much quicker for shorter sessions. In the early moments of the game, this is great for getting into the thick of the fight against the infection.
The biggest issue with Zogma is that the three available maps are basically re-skins of eachother, with slightly different vantage points. No new mechanics are ever introduced, and the zombie waves can all feel the same. New vantage points do require some small changes in strategy, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to differentiate them from one another.
And you will know us by the trail of the dead.
Instead of being overly serious, Zogma has a great sense of humor. A newsreel with silly headlines of zombies taking over the government, loading screens with extra backstory, and an undead math teacher who schools you on zombie survival are all clever extras. Best of all, though, is the streaking hippie who runs across the screen.
Lastly, Zogma comes with a free zombie defense service, better known in the iPhone gaming world as Plus+. Here you have your regular slew of achievements and leaderboards for how long you survived.
While the lack of deeper maps keeps Zogma from attaining our highest score, it’s still an addicting strategic zombie survival game that deserves your attention. It’s a hard deal to pass up.