Frontline Zed by Volcanic Games
Do you remember browser games? Where you could find yourself engrossed for hours by mindlessly clicking on something until your index finger went numb? Frontline Zed remembers.
It’s amazing what you can start to feel nostalgic for as you get older. Back in the early-to-mid-2000s, it seemed like the Internet was a constant source of free browser-based games that did a great job at keeping you occupied for an hour or two. With the ultimate removal of support for Flash coming next year, it’s hard not to feel like a little bit of gaming history is being lost.
I suspect the creators of Frontline Zed must feel the same way I do, because the game is ultimately very much a throwback to the kind of experiences you could find on Kongregate and Newgrounds back in the day. But does that mean you should pay money for it?
Loot. Equip. Kill. Repeat.
Frontline Zed has a pleasantly simple setup. You’re a lone wanderer in a zombie apocalypse, defending a barrier against the undead horde by night while venturing out during the day to look for other survivors and new weapons to defend yourself with.
The night portions of the game are where you’ll be spending the majority of your time, firing either of the two weapons you bring with you at the horde while doing your best to keep them away from the barrier that’s your last line of defense against certain death. It’s also here that tedium starts to set in pretty quickly.
Good? Bad? I’m the Guy with the Gun
Simply put, the action of Frontline Zed is, in a word, fine. It’s functional and easy to grasp, but that’s about it. Aside from trying to pick your targets as best as you can, there ultimately isn’t much strategy to what’s going on. The zombies only come in three different varieties – standard, fast and weak, and slow and strong – and progressing through the game just results in more and more of these foes being sent at you at once.
It’s also here that some of the major flaws of the game come to light. For instance, when you boot up a new campaign, it tells you to aim for the heads of the walkers to do more damage, but I found that there were quite a few times where my character flat-out didn’t shoot where the mouse pointer was sitting.
Dead by Dawn
The other half of the Frontline Zed experience, the daytime, does manage to flesh out the game somewhat. Between each onslaught from the undead, you’re given eight hours to allocate to either searching for new survivors and equipment or repairing damage done to the barrier from the previous night. You’ll never have enough time to do everything, so it’s all about pushing your luck as much as you’re comfortable.
Unfortunately, “luck” is the major issue with this half of the game, in that whatever you discover in the locations you search appears to be completely based on it. While you might find a survivor (who will act as a stationary turret during the night sections), a new gun, or single-use grenades you can use to clear the horde if it gets too bad, you can just as easily find nothing.
Worse still, sometimes a search will cause you to randomly lose one of the survivors you already have, ultimately making you feel like you’re being punished without any means of preventing it.
When There’s No More Room in Hell…
If it sounds like I’m being harsh on this game, it’s largely because it has a solid foundation, along with some pleasant visuals and a decently atmospheric soundtrack, and with some additional work and more mechanics it could easily have been a fun way to kill some time.
As it is, the game is a two-hour-plus hour campaign (with two more advertised as “coming soon” on the main page) that feels like it’s shown you everything it has within 15 minutes. Had it been a free browser game from over 10 years ago, a lot of this could have been forgiven, but at $9.95, this is a remnant of the past best left in the grave.
Frontline Zed is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Frontline Zed below: