Day of the Dead (the original 1985 Romero film, not the 2008 insult to cinema, we hasten to add) isn’t just one of our favourite zombie films. It’s also one of our all-time favourite movies of all time. The sheer volume of living dead Romero packed into his classic sequel is an image that’s stays with you your whole entire life, and has rarely been rivaled in terms of volume of undead flesh.
Zombie games on iPhone are reaching numbers that could compete with the mass infection seen in Day of the Dead, however, with far too many developers falling back on the walking dead as easy, off-the-shelf bullet fodder. Aftermath is one such game, though what it lacks in antagonistic imagination, it makes up for in presentation.
It’s premise doesn’t attempt to reach too far into zombie lore, opting instead for quick, raw survivalist run ‘n’ gun tactics. You start each level with a basic objective, which is mostly built around finding an exist point. Along the way you might need to achieve some rudimentary tasks, such as finding a detonator and returning it to a pile of explosives before moving on to the finishing point. Nothing more challenging than following a guide to each waypoint, but exploration and puzzle solving aren’t Aftermath’s purpose.
The challenge is, naturally, found in survival. The 3D environments are very dark (perhaps a little too dark in places) illuminated only by the occasional and brief flash of lightning and the limited light from your own torch. The perspective is third-person, though it’s zoomed out a lot more than most similar games.
This almost turns Aftermath into a top-down view, but with just enough of an angle to allow you to get a good view of the 3D environment. It’s a perspective that works really well, and thanks to the easy with which the game handles the 3D visuals, it’s graphically superior to the majority of realistic zombie games out there.
One particularly inventive feature is the torch light. Not only does it light your way as you tip-toe around the dangerous, zombie-filled levels, but it also acts as your aiming system. Rather than clutter up the screen with icons or fumble around with overly critical cross hairs, Aftermath shoots automatically whenever your character can see a zombie. The better he can see them, the better his accuracy.
This ingenious auto-fire method really frees up your thumbs to handle movement and direction, but still demands skill and accuracy to hit the high scores. The only action required for the gun is tapping to reload. This is also an automatic system, but manually reloading decreases the time taken to shove more bullets into the gun.
So despite Aftermath being quite shallow in terms of premise and level design, the gameplay mechanics are impressively intuitive. If you like a bit of character building and storytelling in your zombie-based entertainment, this isn’t a game for you, but anyone looking for a slick and accessible 3D shooter will be pleasantly surprised by Aftermath.