Well, folks, I don’ t know if my game radar is on the fritz, or perhaps I thought that because Escape: The Curse of the Temple is so fun that Escape: Zombie City would be too. I was sure hoping, because Queen Games did such a great job with that, I thought that this would be better, since they have a couple years’ experience under their belts with this kind of game. Well, as it turns out, this game is fucking horrible, and in fact, it is so horrible that it is not even showing up on their website. I mean, this game is like Polio; I was paralyzed by its stupidity. Where that game was fast, tense, and awesome, this game is completely worthless in every possible category except production value, and even there it fails in some big ways. In short, this game is horrible, and while a couple of the Circus crew liked it a little bit, those that didn’t like it really despised it, and refused to play again. We had an honorary Circus Freak play it with us once, even, and he rated it a solid 1/5 stars. And he’s pretty down-to-earth, so that means something.
The idea of this game is that you are a Zombie Apocalypse survivor, and you’ve got to get supplies from the zombie-infested city so that you can escape in a van. You have a soundtrack playing in the background, which gives audio cues on when zombies spawn, when to go back to base, et cetera. So, you’re under time pressure, and when it comes to getting the supplies, the problem is that you don’t know where to look, so you literally spend the whole first part of the game seeking out the locations from a big stack of tiles. Once you’ve found them, the second part of the game has you running around to pick them up, one at a time. To add pressure, when the Church bell tolls on the soundtrack, you had better be at the Church, or you’re fucked. For the sin of not being at Church on time, you lose one of your five dice for the rest of the game, which is brutal on an existential level.
Worse still, zombies slowly move toward the Church Once you’ve found the items and have retrieved them, you need to load all your people into the van and cruise off into the sunset. That’s all well and good, but the big problem is that this van escape thing is one hundred percent tacked on; it’s completely superfluous and serves absolutely no real purpose except to make an already bad game worse.
The real problem is that for a game that should be incredibly tense, it’s not. It’s actually really insipid and completely bland. The zombies are really rather slow, they don’t really get in your way all that often, and as long as you’ve got two people on a space with a zombie, they’re relatively easy to put down. The game is simply too easy, which might be something you can fix by adding more zombies, but honestly, the game design is of such questionable merit that I just can’t see myself ever taking the time to try. I will literally never play this game again, period.
If I were to have only one choice in a “timed zombie game”, I’d have chosen Zombie 15′, because while it’s hard to set up, and not all that tense, at least it has a lot of variety and the art is really great, where this game’s art is middling at best. Really, if I want to play a zombie game, I’d probably rather play something like Mall of Horror or Dead of Winter.
As you most assuredly know, I adore the original Escape, because it’s tense, dynamic, and really feels like you’re in deep trouble from the moment you begin a session. This Escape, however, feels like you’re just kind of wandering around, then you find the special tiles, then you run back home, and then you get in a van, and then you put the game away and wish you’d have spent the time doing something else. Don’t buy it, ever.
Why This Game Was Quite The Escapade:
– The soundtrack is really well done, and was a real mood-setter.
– The rules are short, and reasonably easy to digest.
– The tile art is quite nice.
Why This Game Will Be Escaping Into The Skip:
– It’s wholly boring. Truly, utterly boring.
– There is almost no tension, except when racing back to the Church.
– There’s not enough variety in the scenarios, so replay value may be very low for you.
– The zombie art is unbelievably bad; you’d have to be a complete pussy to be scared of these.
It’s a shitty follow up to a phenomenal game. It’s almost like it was a freak accident that Queen made the original Escape so good, because this game was ill-conceived at best. Do not buy this, unless you have played it and find us to be completely wrong. Don’t “buy it based on the first game” like I did, because you’ll be disappointed.
Read the rules here, if you dare: