Every week it seems like we come at you with another zombie game -- and with Spender Cordes' Tread of the Dead [Free / Free]-- this week is no exception. Fortunately, Tread of the Dead looks to offer a bit of variety with its emphasis on tilt controls, pattern memorization, and precision. You won't find much in terms of deep gameplay or impressive visuals, and its simple controls can be hit-or-miss when combined with the difficulty, but Tread’s extremely approachable gameplay combined with its wealth of content make it well worth a try.
Taking place in an assumed post-apocalyptic zombie-infested land, Tread of the Dead charges you with leading the protagonist across a variety of locales in search of the Evac Zone. Along the way you'll encounter hordes of zombies coming at you in a wide variety of formations. Fortunately, you'll have several weapons at your disposal - from the simple chainsaw to the ninja star that splits into three when you tap on the screen - which you can toss and then direct by tilting to take out the zombie hordes. Other weapons such as the pipe bomb only destroy zombies when you activate them, adding to the strategy of determining when and where you should aim your weapons.
Zombies, meanwhile, come in a variety of colors with later levels offering derivatives such as the explosive zombie that takes out surrounding undead when you hit him. Zombies also come at you in a ton of different formations, which is the crux for each individual level. Formations start out small with simple lines and shapes and become more complex with nods to various video games as well as much more intricate patterns. As you can imagine, difficulties for individual levels vary greatly depending on what you’re taking on. Considering the ‘simplicity’ of each level, one can imagine that it wouldn’t be too hard to create tons of different levels. Thankfully, Tread delivers in droves.
One area that Tread certainly excels at is sheer content. In addition to the 100+ levels available in the default Adventure Mode, there are four other endless modes such as the endless 'Arcade' mode and 'Zombified' mode, which has you playing the role of a zombie trying to dodge the weapons being tossed at you. I was also a fan of the boss levels in Adventure, which added some complexity to the basic formula and were a good change of pace. When you add in leaderboards, achievements and skin unlocks, there's certainly enough replayability. Sure, the normal levels are quick hits and the the majority of the game can be completed in a few hours, but the bite-sized content works.
You’ll be taking on Tread’s zombies through a tilt-based control scheme that has you moving your iOS device from side to side in order to line up your weapons. Advanced weapons require a tap on the screen to activate, but there are no touch controls for actual movement. Unfortunately, I think there is where Tread of the Zombie falters somewhat. There are options for accelerometer sensitivity, but unfortunately I don’t think it does enough to give the player sufficient direction.
The issue becomes exacerbated during the game’s tougher levels, where you’ll find yourself repeating countless levels trying to find not only the exact method for zombie destruction but also hoping that your tilt-fu is adequate for the job. Granted, the game is constantly recording stats even in failed missions, allowing you to hit those skin unlocks and achievements even while stuck on a level, but that does little to ease the frustration that may occur. An option to unlock every level is available as IAP in case the difficulty gets the better of you.
Still, it’s important to note that despite the control issues described above, the tilt controls do work -- just not as well as I’d personally like. Tread of the Dead still offers an interesting, if simple, gameplay premise buttressed by an ample amount of content. If you’re not thoroughly tired of zombie games by now and you’re looking for a new diversion, Tread is worth checking out. At the very least, you can download the free demo to see if it suits your fancy.