How long do you think you could survive in a dark warehouse full of zombies, armed with only a faint flashlight and a handgun? If you want to find out, Affliction: Zombie Rising (Out Now, $0.99 Release Sale) is a title you’ll take interest in. Beware, however — the health risks in this virtual reality game might just spill into the real world!
Affliction’s major point of attraction is a gyroscopic interface that ties your real-world movements into the virtual world. To turn in the game, you actually have to turn; to reload, you have to tilt your device down and swipe, which feels like a bit of a nod to old light gun arcade games. Once you choose a firearm and turn away from a tutorial wall where instructions are scrawled in blood, your main objective is to swivel around to check over your shoulder in-game, tapping anywhere to unleash the pain whenever you’ve got a zombie in your crosshairs at screen center.
The game succeeds in catching the player’s interest as an immersive, digital art house experiment. Unfortunately that interest will be short lived unless you’re a truly diehard leaderboard competitor; while your physical turns translate into the game, you never move from your spot in the warehouse so there’s no sense of exploration, you never switch weapons in realtime, and variation in zombies is minimal. It’s all about how many zombies you can blow away before they creep up on you, and how accurate your shots are.
The turn function makes for giggly fun at first, but spend some time with it and it could become Affliction’s greatest drawback. Since you have no cover, your long term survival hinges on you, the player, continuously spinning around in circles. Now I don’t know about you, but I could only physically sustain this for two or three waves before getting so light headed I had to put the game down — and no pause button as luck would have it. Affliction screams for an option to let all players access non-gyroscopic controls, and the ability to switch control schemes on-the-fly.
Affliction is at least solidly built – the gyroscopic interface feels perfectly responsive – and players can squeeze some extra play time out of it by checking out an online co-op mode. It’s also got atmosphere down pat, from the player’s impaired tunnel vision to tortured moans that make even the main menu intimidating. If the developers can bring these aspects of Affliction to a more ambitious project some day, they might have a survival horror gem on their hands.
iFanzine Verdict: While immediately immersive thanks to its gyro interface, Affliction: Zombie Rising becomes the horror genre’s answer to the infinite runner in its lack of depth. There’s also a real-world risk of falling flat on your face if you get too caught up in the leaderboard competition that serves as player motivation here.