191014_largerIt seems like it would be a match made in heaven, but zombie games with a horror/survival theme seem to be rare on iOS. Looking to do something beyond the usual action-packed zombie genocide, Trial By Survival [Free] looks to remedy that with a top down adventure that focuses just as much on the tension of staying alive as it does on taking out the undead. It actually succeeds mostly in that regard too, despite its freemium undertones.

Fire up Trial by Survival and you have the option of playing two modes. Survival Mode is the main story-based mode in the game and challenges players to survive 14 days in exile within a zombie-infested wasteland with no supplies and only a crowbar as your weapon. While in exile, you'll journey through suburbs, forests and towns searching for supplies (which can be used to build weapons), fighting zombies and earning experience, and avoiding the horde (or fighting through it). Each mission has hidden areas and nice little ambient touches that do a great job creating tension while exploring areas.


Each mission starts you at one end of a procedurally-generated stage with your goal being to dispatch all the zombies and get to the big 'Exit' sign at the other end. Do that, and you earn a level bonus, advance a day, and select the next region. Between stages you can build a wide variety of weapons, unlock special perks, or attempt to scavenge other survivors. Scavenging is a neat idea, as it allows you to extract resources from the maps of other actual players that failed in their quest. It's also one of the best ways to ensure your own survival, but requires survival coins which must be earned in Arena Mode or purchased via IAP.

While some levels focus mostly on combat (such as horde missions), others focus on exploration and resource collection for impending large battles. Even though the action in those exploration levels is relatively tame, I love the look and feel of them more than the straight up challenging horde levels. Still, those are important to consider since Trial by Survival ends if you die or make it out of exile after the 14 days are elapsed. The game's dual-stick controls do a great job of giving you a fighting chance, although I found the melee combat and aiming mechanics to be a little inaccurate.

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Arena Mode, meanwhile, supplements Survival Mode by placing players in a small stage with a never-ending horde of zombies coming at you. While Arena Mode is primarily score-driven (leaderboards track total experience and kills per run) and not particularly deep, one important function it also accomplishes is the earning of Scavenger Coins, which allows you to scavenge in Survival Mode. Thus, both modes complement each other well and with enough play in each, you can play the majority of the game without needing to spring for IAP.

Still, being a freemium game there are some annoyances that will persist regardless. At  the conclusion of each stage in Survival Mode players will have to wait an ever growing amount of time until the 'night' passes and you can select the next stage. Sure, IAP exists to permanently disable the 'night timer,' (you can also watch a short video to bypass the timer each time) but it's still an annoyance that either can be dealt with or eliminated with cash.

Another issue stemming from its freemium background is the fact that most of the fun weapons that can be used in Survival Mode (and eventually in Arena Mode) will take some time to unlock during normal play. You can buy a variety of 'kits' that unlock a lot of the basic weapons (which allow you to focus on buying the more expensive ones), but if you have an aversion to IAP, you're in for somewhat of a boring start.

Personally, I think Trial By Survival is enjoyable regardless of the IAP. In fact, I'd say it's well worth shelling out for a few weapons packs at the onset just so folks can enjoy the look and feel without worrying about the meta-game. It's not the most complicated game, but Trial By Survival makes up for it with feeling, making it well worth checking out in my book.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Eseres

    I tried this game, and boy am i happy it was free. This game is just a poor attempt at an IOS version of The Last Of Us. Aiming is bad and the game itself is worse. And this comes from somebody who loves zombie games and usually swallows them whole. This one just tasted bad, so i threw it away...

    • hddhjd27273

      I agree completely. The game is also filled with unfair IAP including a timer.

    • anabolicMike

      Agreed. It's terrible. I uninstalled. Bad review. Lost respect for the reviewer

    • GooooA

      i agree ,this game ist fun. fail reviewer?

    • toxiccheese

      While I disagree with the comparison to "The Last of Us", I did find the game to be boring and slow. The moment I realized that the timer was only going to get longer and longer I just deleted the game. No thanks. Any game that makes you wait to play is not well designed. The dev should do everything they can to keep you engaged in gameplay. There are better ways to implement IAP... And timers are never the answer. Horrible horrible design idea.

      • ptdshiznit818

        I still don't understand how this game is being compared to the last of us... At all.

      • Eseres

        Its a survival game with weapon building. I could just as well had mention Dead Island, but The Last Of Us seems a lot closer.
        But don't get me wrong! The Last Of Us and Dead Island is exellent games. The Last Of Us is the best of 2013, if you ask me.
        It was just that weapon building that made me do that The Last Of Us referance.

      • JohnnyJ301

        I get your reference. I have the last of us and it's the best video game that I've played. It's brilliant.

    • Johnny101

      The last of us?? Lmao, did he really say the last of us, lol.... Oh that is rich!!

      • Johnny101

        That's like comparing the original Star Wars to Starship Troopers..

    • Annand Virk

      You swallow them whole eh? Tasted bad so you spit it out eh?

      Buddy, proofreading does wonders for people.

  • searching8442

    Looks like sas zombie assault 3 but terrible graphics

  • themostunclean

    I survived my trial in one play through and am also glad I spent no money. I tried it a second time without building any weapons and breezed right through.

    I don't get why people find this game difficult. Just keep your armor up and buy grenades/flash bangs. It's insanely easy.

    • yaboyrasp

      And insanely boring

      • D&Dgames

        But people like you are sad and hard to satisfy and the dev has given up their time to make a game for us just appreciate what they have done!! People these days

      • Silverfist

        The dev didn't give up their time to make a game for us; they spent time making a freemium game to get rich off us... Bit of a difference.

      • D&Dgames


  • Taclys

    I actually adore this game. It's very intense for me at least, knowing that if I die, the last 1-2 hours of work is completely gone. I've shelled out and bought 2 packs, the starter kit and Glitch (the dog). The IAP seem very fair to me, and scavenger coins aren't too hard to come by, especially with some elusive 2x perk you sometimes get if you clear a stage.

    I'd love co-op, I would gladly pay $5 for co-op being added into the game.

    • ProGamer57

      Yeah but that "intense" feeling is just the developers way of trying to squeeze a couple more bucks out of you. This is pretty much just another pay-to-win game(with poor graphics). If you enjoy buying your way to the top if the leaderboards than this game is for you.

  • BloodNinja1557

    How is this a 4 star game!!!! The graphics are awful and gameplay is boring and repetitive. How did this get a whole star more than Limbo!!!! This game isn't even on the same level!

    • Slagathor

      Limbo was one of my favorite games back on XBLA and I really enjoyed it on IOS. This game isn't awful but it's clearly a much lower budget game with a much smaller team of developers and it really isn't fair to compare it to games like Limbo. However TA users don't care about who made the game; we just care about its quality. Unfortunately it's just not there. TA really needs to rethink their rating system.

      • Slagathor

        Oops. Meant to post that as a reply to blood ninja.

  • Fangbone

    Tough crowd to please I guess. I think the game is quite good for what it is. Graphics are also fine. Guess its just hard for kids these days to appreciate something that is not HD/3D.

    • Xissoric

      The graphics for me isn't the problem, I just truly did not enjoy the gameplay much. I played the game for like 20 minutes before I quit. On the app store it's very rare for a game to stand out, and this one is just like every other zombie survival game (except IMHO worse than most).

  • Sulinder7/11

    This sad excuse for a game is not even worth the space it takes up. Don't waste your time.

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      Considering the volume of games that are merely fronts for stores, I like that there is an actual game here.
      I also understand the IAP hatred.
      But i thought this was pretty intense if you listen to the music.

  • oooooomonkey

    Well I for one am loving this game, everyone's entitled to their own opinion though, you can't please everyone.

    • Taclys

      Very tough crowd to please here. Try to make something innovate and neat with the permadeath system, scavenging system, and make it free -but- not freemium, more free to play. But apparently no one else sees this.

      I like the graphics. They're not Infinity Blade but they're well done, grundgy, and matches the mood.

      If they released this game for a flat $6, with all the survival pack unlocked and arena guns unlocked, would you guys be happy then? If so, why are you complaining?

      • yaboyrasp

        If they charged 6 dollars for this game they would be out of business in a month.

  • dudeman8622

    Yeah I tried this glad it's free. I didn't find anything about that game any good confused about the review but hey Opinions everybody's got one but this one was added to my long list of Deleted games

  • The Son of Anarchy

    This comment is for genuine hardcore (even mildly) ios gamers who have an interest in Trial by Survival and are reading through all these negative comments while their heart is sinking because they were really exited about this game. Most posts are by people who only drop by Toucharcade once in a blue moon to leave something pointless, negative, non productive and/or downright shitty, and as such should be ignored completely.

    This game might not be everybody's cup of tea but I'd hate if genuine ios gamers got turned off just because of the crap above. Those who like this type of game and have an attention span of more than five minutes will find an awesome survival game underneath, with an iap model that should be welcomed and supported fully. Trial by Survival succeeds in doing exactly what it was trying to do and easily deserves each one of those four stars.

    I wasn't going to bother saying anything cause deep down I know it's pointless competing with the (as a few respected TA members put it) 'tough crowd' above, but this and other indie games in general deserve a little sticking up for.

    • anabolicMike

      I'm the first one to stick for indie games. I bought survival craft in every medium I could simply because the guy deserved it. This game isn't horrible, I got fifteen minutes of play out of it. I just got bored of it quick. That whole "the night gets longer" crap was a kick in the nuts. That's just a mindless money pull.
      I believe in paying for games and I like games that give you a little bit for free an either more content for money or some kind of help. I don't like timers. It kills any kind of roll you could get on. This game just left a bad taste in my mouth too. So I deleted it. The reviewer is giving it praise in areas it doesn't deserve, almost sounds like a shill. To each their own though. Want a zombie game? Get Organ Trail, that's indie and that's sweetness.

      • lavenders2

        So if the game was a dollar and didnt have timers would you still buy it?

      • anabolicMike

        After reading that review I would have blindly trusted the guy and bought it. I love zombies and usually the TA reviewers have my tastes :/. I would have played it that fifteen minutes and then got bored. It's not just the timers, that I didn't like after all. Hmmm but to be honest I wouldn't even have a regret. The guys who made it obviously put effort into it and i really do wish them well, little bit of respect lost over that obvious money push (night timer) but I wouldn't be upset about it at all, it would just be a game that went into my supported folder and never got played again hah.

      • Eseres

        The main reason why i didn't like it was the terrible aiming. I might try it again if they add some aiming or auto-lock on the nearest enemy.
        But swinging the weapon like crazy and pray that i hit something, that doesn't quite do it for me.

      • Nah-Meen Studios

        Dev here. You will only hit a zombie if you swing in the direction of the zombie. It is not beneficial to swing uncontrollably. Also if you wait until your weapon is aimed, and you turn green, your weapon will be more powerful. Hope this helps

    • themostunclean

      I'd say you NEED a short attention span to enjoy this game. Anyone looking for a game to sit down with and dig into won't find it here. It's obviously designed to be played in short bursts.

      I'm a regular poster here and I'm kind of offended with how you dismiss people's opinions. Did you actually look into every one of their previous posts to back up your claim?
      People are allowed to feel the way they do and usually have their own legitimate reasons. I found this game to be overly easy, short, chock-full of IAP, ugly, slow and poorly animated. There's no real challenge outside of waiting through timers or enduring ads for godawful games.

      I'm all for supporting developers, some of my best friends work their asses off to make games 10x better than this one, but just because it's indie doesn't make it good.

      • D&Dgames

        shup i hate people like you

      • Chester_Copperpot

        Try and learn from people who are smarter than you, rather than hating them. You'll get farther in life and be happier for it.

  • Jake7905

    Really surprised by all the hate for this game, which may not be great but is certainly enjoyable, and which I thought was the highlight of an otherwise thin week for new releases. The IAP is done in a non-greedy way, and isn't required to enjoy the game.

  • CapitainHarlock

    Freemiummium 🙁

  • ngajoe

    This was the first time I caught myself thinking that this free-to-play model isn't so bad. Pretty innovative for what it's worth.

  • Roleki

    I rarely buy IAPs, but did for this game--it rocks!
    Where did all the TROLLS come from?

  • Johnny101

    If you guys like top down survival type games, I recommend the walking dead assault game, it's pretty good.

    • Eseres

      Yeah, i second that! TWD Assault is much, much better. Though, i don't play it that much anymore, but at least that game is still on my iPad.

  • sakara214ever

    Deleted after a minute of gameplay.

    • D&Dgames


  • Morgan01

    Just so much grinding required.

  • jeffyg3

    Kinda surprised by the score...thought it was going to get like 2 stars or something like that. This game is kind of crappy with monotonous boring gameplay and crappy IAP.

  • Nutrilica

    This is a great game(for the price) If the maps were more "open-world" and not just a left-to-right map, I would definitely pay. I'm happy with what I got and I think it has a lot of potential.

    • mrbradleypants

      Dev here. If you tap the green icon on the world map in Survival Mode you can Search the area. You will find buildings you can search with more supplies and ammo then while traveling to different map points(the yellow icon).

      • Nutrilica

        Thanks for your input, I appreciate it. Thanks for making another game to worry about not being able to play if something ever happens to my phone.

Trial By Survival Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4