Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare, A Review

Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare, A Review

Samuel Mejia

Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare is a zombie-themed strategy game where you lead survivors through an apocalypse in a bus. The main objective of most levels is to destroy a barricade or obstacle on the other side of the level while fighting your way through different kinds of zombies that are blocking your way and oncoming, aiming to destroy the barricade before the horde arrives, which is around 3 minutes and 30 seconds before they come, which is coincidentally around the same length as each main level’s full theme, if you fail to destroy the barricade before they arrive then a horde of a zombie type called Witches will appear, along with another fast zombie type depending on the location that each level takes place, as there are 8 locations in the game with 21 missions each on average.

A picture of what the first couple of levels in location 1 looks like, where units are generally few.

A picture of a level in location 3, here the player is attempting to fight through two One-armed soldier zombies.

The game’s first “boss” fight in location 2, featuring the Agents unit, a support.

A picture of location 3.

A unique aspect about this game that I love is the mechanic that survivors that you send out who happen to die will turn into zombies themselves after a time, and the zombies match the level of the survivor they came from, which means that you shouldn’t send out survivors without care for the consequences, as well as turning into different kinds that could put you at a massive disadvantage. As seen in the first above picture, in the top left corner there are two bars, Courage being blue, and Bloodlust being red. Courage is needed to pay for the cost of a Survivor to send them out of the bus to fight, and regenerates at 1.5 points per second. The cheapest survivors being 15 Courage, and the most expensive being 30 as well as everything in between.

Bloodlust is only gained when zombies are killed, 1 or 2 points for weak zombies, and it changes for stronger ones at random, however boss zombies will always give 50. Bloodlust is used for support items, like barrels and fire barrels to drop onto zombies to damage and block their path, and even certain survivors who cost Bloodlust. At full Bloodlust at 100 points you can use a machine gun ability that shoots from the top of the bus and covers the entire field, dealing damage to every enemy in front of the barricade. All this will be covered in depth further into the article.

Support items are stationary units that can be used for dealing extra damage or providing support to other units. Costs rage to send out and can be freely placed anywhere on the battlefield.

These items include empty barrels to drop onto zombies and block their path, fire barrels that serve the same purpose except you can manually detonate them, molotovs that set fire to an area and inflict additional burn damage, a generator that give packs of courage, nitrogen barrels that freeze zombies for a time, a turret that fires a volley of bullets to deal high damage to those in front of it, and a drone that attracts zombies and explodes after a few seconds of hovering. Everything except the turret can also affect your survivors, so be wary of their placement as you can kill them by accident if you are too reckless with where you deploy them. 

Every survivor is a part of a category that defines what they do with those being: Fighter, Damager, Heavyweight, Shooter, Shotgunner, Sniper, Support and Psycho. Fighters are melee units who are as versatile as they come when it comes to completing standard missions, all are usually quick and agile with very few resistances. Although some have unique abilities such as Glenn’s ability to come back to life, Lionheart’s ability of setting fire to enemies in front of them, and stunning or knocking enemies back like Rogue or Private Rodriguez, among other various abilities.

Damagers are melee units who are mostly used for dealing high amounts of damage to a single tanky target or for quick dispatching of large swarms of enemies. Most possess resistance to at least one form of damage, those resistances being either bullet or fire resistance. With Grenadier’s grenade ability, Builder Abby dropping her minigun and turning into a melee unit after running out of ammo, or Guard’s ability to knock enemies back with melee attacks.

Heavyweights are units with high health and primarily have full knock-back resistance. Slower movement offsets their overall damage per second. Lumberjack has a manual ability where he heals, Policeman Diaz has resistance to melee attacks, Soldier cannot become a zombie upon death and possess poison resistance as well.

Shooters are ranged units with guns that have a high rate of fire and usually lower health than fighters. They are less accurate but work well against crowds due to their bullet spread. 

Snipers are similar to shooters in the fact that they wield a gun, but however they have a lower rate of fire and higher damage per shot, affecting their crowd control but allows them to single out high hp targets and whittle them down.

Supports are units who provide buffs or inspiration to fellow survivors while they’re on the field, and are usually meant to work with others, as their damage output and hp are lower than others. These abilities could be to provide inspiration like stated above, which increases survivor speed and damage, or healing, or adding damage by themselves, or marking enemies for additional damage. 

Psychos are unique because that although they are like other regular units like Fighters or Damagers, they possess fear immunity and cause fear themselves, as well as most importantly: cost rage to send out. Saw is unique among all units in the sense that the instant they die they immediately turn.

Next we’ll cover common status effects like inspiration, fear, and poison. Inspiration is a positive status effect that causes units that possess it to have their movement speed increased by 20% and react quicker, improving their attack speed, as units occasionally falter in their attacks when fighting. Inspiration is signified by a golden laurel above their head:

Fear is a negative status effect that suffers from worsened reaction speeds as demonstrated by units attacking enemies more later than usual, making occasional pauses in-between attacks, and idling for brief moments without doing anything. It is signified by a dark blue screaming face above their heads.

Poison is a unique status effect that only enemies can inflict to survivors; once inflicted with poison, their health bar will turn blue and will be dealt a consistent tick of damage; it continues until the unit dies.

As I said previously survivors that die turn into zombies after a time unless they have an ability that says otherwise. The Redneck and Berserker turn into a regular zombie upon death, which are relatively low health and slow, possessing no abilities:

Slob is a zombie that possesses a high health pool, low damage and speed, however their attacks inflict poison damage and status effect, as well as when they die they explode in which it inflicts poison and damage to all units within its radius, and are immune to fire damage. Only Dr. Norman can turn into this zombie.

Epidemiologists are slightly tougher than Tipsy, however they aren’t as slow, and can inflict poison damage and status effects with their attacks, and are immune to fire. Dr. Miller and Kane turn into them upon death.

Builder is a bullet resistant zombie that has the same health as Epidemiologist, except only possessing a 90% bullet damage resistance. As its namesake, Builder turns into this.

Crooked is nearly identical to Builder in terms of stats and abilities, and only appears once Willy dies.

Ram is a slightly upgraded version of Cop, however they don’t possess bullet resistance, and possess knockback resistance. Chopper turns into this on death.

Sergeant is a zombie that possesses bullet resistance not nearly as much as other zombies, being quite negligible, however they possess the ability to revive once with half its original health, and being in similar health to Tipsy, are not much of a threat. Ranger, Red Hood and Light Soldier turn into this infected.

If the Firefighter didn’t get subjected to damage like fire that would cause him to explode and leave no corpse, he will turn into a zombie, that zombie has fire resistance and explodes upon death and leaves fire around them for 8 seconds. They have similar health to Builder.

Monk is a running zombie with similar health to the standard zombie, and possesses the ability to knock back survivors with attacks. When Saw dies he falls backwards and does a roll before facing the other direction having turned into a Monk.

Forest Firefighter is a zombie that is on fire that deals fire damage to survivors they hit, they sprint very fast but pause for a while between sprints. Lionheart turns into this on death.

EMT is a paramedic zombie that has the unique ability to charge up an electrical shock that disintegrates anything around them in a small radius when they’re hit with a melee attack, symbolized by their glowing blue eyes and electrical sparks. While in this charged state they are also immune to bullet damage. Paramedic Nancy turns into this infected.

Abby is a tough zombie that comes from Builder Abby, and possesses the ability to pounce on a random unit and deal damage to them and others in a small area.

There is a secondary type of enemy called The Marauders, they are human survivors who in the process of turning, they pose a threat to you and appear in levels throughout the game, utilizing not only melee weapons but guns as well. Additionally Marauders, like your survivors, will walk around barrels and fire, and will not walk through them, as well as most being counterparts to survivors you already have.

Lubber serves a similar purpose to builder, state wise having similar health and damage, as well as possessing bullet resistance. Turning into a Undead when he dies, it can prove troublesome on certain levels where Lubber is the main enemy that approaches.

Robber is one of the first marauders the player meets that used ranged weapons, having similar damage output to Sheriff Charlotte and acting similarly, being able to take out solo melee survivors that approach that don’t possess bullet resistance. They turn into Tipsy.

Biker is another gun sporting marauder, being similar to the Gunslinger. They possess fire resistance and 80% melee damage resistance, so gun wielding survivors are best to take them out. They turn into a Tipsy as well

Crazy is a non-counterpart marauder who moves faster than any other marauder, similar to the Mechanic when they are charging with a sledgehammer, they have a high attack speed and also are the only marauder in the game to instantly turn once they die, much like Saw. Another oddity about Crazy is that they will actually run through pools of fire, as well as stop and attack barrels are other objects dropped by rage abilities if it’s in their path. They turn into a fast zombie on death, which is like the standard zombie, except it runs instead.

With just those zombies and marauders alone you could easily fill campaigns with them, and yet there’s still a vast number of zombies that I haven’t covered, as well as other marauders. All of this combined with seasonal events, a PVP game mode where you make a group of survivors to face off against other players makes this  game truly unique to me, along with its involved developers on the game’s subreddit as well as its art-style, and having a total of 6 slots to combine over 30 units including support items, this game is very fun and unique and allows for different play styles with items to augment stats and factions that each unit belongs to and faction bonuses for the amount of a certain kind you have on your team make this even more pronounced. My only gripe with this game is that unless you have the patience to grind coins for certain units, buying Austin is your way to go, as he generates coins on every zombie kill, making your overall coin yield much, much higher, for that I give this game a solid 7/10.