|Difficulty||Low to Moderate|
Review Computer: Laptop, Intel Core 2 Duo 2.13 Ghz, 4 GB Ram, 256 MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330, and Windows 7 Home Edition.
This review is a little different from the others on the site because it is a review of a game that is purely text. There will be no videos or screenshots for this review.
Land of the Undead is a zombie-themed Choose Your Own Zombie Adventure series. It is not affiliated with the Choose Your Own Adventure franchise. It is a fanmade gamebook posted on the Internet and made available for free.
Land of the Undead consists of 3 separate adventures, each of which is rather short. It follows the standard gamebook procedure: the book presents you with some text, and you select an action to take. There's no underlying combat system or any rpg-ish features, which detracts from the experience somewhat.
Even so, Land of the Undead is very much the pinnacle of the free fanmade zombie gamebook genre. In fact, I've only seen one other free zombie gamebook that's worth playing, and that one's a little silly. The others are usually incomplete or plagued by defects.
The plot of Land of the Undead is excellent. It's exactly what I want to see in these sorts of gamebooks. The design is a little bit problematic though - the gameplay is fairly linear. Many of the actions you can take result in instant death, and sometimes there's no clear reason for one action being better than another. Specifically, there are two situations in the 3rd gamebook where you can either charge some zombies or try to avoid them. In the first situation, you have allies with you and some weapons, but charging the zombies results in your death. In the second situation, you have no weapon and a hurt arm, but charging the zombies saves you from the death that would occur if you ran around them. It's easy to backtrack and pick the other option, but it's irritating when running around zombies results in instant death.
In short, there are usually 2 options, and one of them will quite often cause death. In cases where neither option causes death, it usually doesn't seem to matter which option you pick.
There are 3 separate adventures, but each is quite short. It seems to me that it would better if the author created one longer gamebook that is less fatal and provides more options. It's probably easier to write shorter adventures, but a longer adventure would be more rewarding. Some of the better Tunnels & Trolls adventures are an excellent example of this. Gamebooks can contain lots of actions that allow you to improve yourself or suffer some kind of penalty with each action rather than causing instant death for any action that's "wrong".
There's also some supplemental material on the website, but it doesn't add much to the game experience.
While Land of the Undead isn't the best gamebook in the world, it's the best zombie-themed gamebook series that I've found for free on the Internet. The three adventures are relatively short, so they don't take too long to play through. I recommend them to anyone who is interested in zombies or gamebooks. I would like to see more adventures from the same author, though I would prefer longer gamebooks with more non-fatal actions available.
Copyright (C) 2010 Steven Fletcher. All rights reserved.