If you’ve played the previous Rebuild games, you’re in for a treat with Gangs of Deadsville. If you haven’t, this is a fantastic place to start. Described as “Sim City meets the Walking Dead”, you must lead your group of survivors to reclaim the city, all the while fending off starvation, zombies, uprisings and attacks from other factions, including cannibals and crazy priests.
Deadsville shares the same gameplay as its zombie apocalypse, city-building predecessors but is both deeper and easier to play. Despite the story’s grittiness, the graphics are bright and eye-catching, but somehow that’s fitting. Smooth, intuitive game mechanics allow you to easily place your survivors where their skills are best utilized; you can even stack and move them as a group. Clicking a tile displays its available missions, and upon selection, your survivors do your bidding. Deadsville can be played in turn-based or real-time modes (changeable during the game), although real-time works wonderfully to create a sense of urgency, especially if zombie attacks are imminent.
The changes to the game certainly enhance the world’s richness. Where you place guards now matters, and the changing color on the skull-and-crossbones “danger” icon helpfully indicates when you have done so effectively. The research tree is considerably detailed, although it’d help to make that accessible from the lab. Various human factions also exist, with distinct personalities and agendas. Your world can have rivers and coastlines, which afford some protection when you’re starting out.
But storytelling is where Deadsville really shines. Your actions have consequences far beyond their face value. Tough choices abound: if you spend time fighting zombies, will you produce enough food? Should you disregard morality to enjoy a traveling brothel? You literally choose your own adventure from a mind-bogglingly vast array of options. When each event has its own journal entry, and every survivor has their own backstory, it’s easy to become immersed in the world, and attached to its constituents.
Most impressively, the game is still only in Early Access. The full version promises additional modes, zombie types, and events. While there are a currently few bugs and the game’s difficulty seems spiky, Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville shows great promise as a tense, addictive game with a compelling story and fantastic replay value.