12 April 2021
When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will go trampolining
2018’s Zombie Kidz Evolution was one of the first legacy games aimed squarely at young players. A curiously cheerful game about a group of plucky kids caught in an undead uprising, it saw players battle to secure their school against a horde of reanimated corpses. But its bright, stylish cartoon art ensured it never got too scary for its target audience.
Now its creator has returned with follow-up Zombie Teenz Evolution, and while there’s plenty here to appeal to fans of its predecessor, it also comes with a collection of new twists and challenges. Where Kidz’ action unfolded in the confines of a besieged school, Teenz widens its scope with a board showing a grid of city streets. You and your friends will need to work together to venture into the zombie-plagued environment, retrieving supplies from buildings before the dead manage to force their way inside.
Like other legacy games, Zombie Teenz plays out over the course of an ongoing campaign, with players unlocking new rules, features and components as they play. On each playthrough you’ll attempt to form human chains to pass crates of supplies from the buildings on the corners of the board to your stronghold in the centre. While you’re doing it, though, you’ll also have to contend with the rising threat of the ravenous dead. Zombies crawl from sewers, shuffling towards buildings and attempting to force their way inside. If they overrun the entire city, you’ll lose the game.
It means that, in classic co-op fashion, you’ll need to split your attention between pursuing your goals and dealing with problems as they arise. And while the first mission feels a little flat and repetitive – bash a zombie, grab a crate, bash a zombie, grab a crate – you soon start to reveal interesting new elements hidden in sealed envelopes which you can unlock by achieving an array of in-game objectives. While going into detail about any of them would spoil some of the fun, there are new character-specific powers to unlock, companions to meet and ways to hold back the tide of the dead.
At the same time, the game ramps up its threat level, making the zombie antagonists more dangerous and difficult to deal with. The result is a carefully balanced progression where every time you get a new tool to help you in your struggle, you also find yourself with a new undead challenge to deal with.
It’s also worth pointing out just how smoothly the action flows. Individual turns tend to be lightning-fast, and it’s rare to find yourself waiting very long for an opportunity to do something. And each playthrough runs from 15 to 20 minutes, making it very tempting to play two or three sessions back-to-back.
It may lack the depth and storytelling of games like Pandemic Legacy or Charterstone, but Zombie Teenz Evolution is playing for a very different audience, and its vibrant colours and zany elements (Undead clowns! Zombies on trampolines!) mean it’s perfectly pitched for family game nights.
Zombie Teenz combines bingeable legacy game appeal with fast-playing simplicity.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED PANDEMIC LEGACY: SEASON 1
Like the disease-fighting smash hit, it blends cooperation, planning, unpredictable events and rising tension.
Designer: Annick Lobet
Publisher: Scorpion Masqué
Time: 20 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 1 Game board
- 4 Teen pawns
- 4 Zombie horde tokens
- 4 Overrun building tokens
- 4 Crates
- 2 Dice
- 1 Event deck
- 1 Sticker sheet
- Various Secret Components
This review originally appeared in Issue 49 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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