Jun 27, 2012

[Games] Zombie Cafe (Android)

I've only recently started to explore the Google Play Store and the various applications available for the Android platform. And that naturally leads one to explore a variety of Android games, which is the common distraction for mobile devices including tablets.

Now I only downloaded this game for two major reasons. The first is the fact that it was listed as one of the featured games in the Google Play Store. The other reason is that it was a free game, which is probably the most common reason any of us make the decision to acquire an application. Such "freemium" games rely on such a low barrier to entry in an effort to hook more players in and eventually get them to spend real money on bonuses in the game.

I wasn't exactly hooked.

Zombie Cafe is a social game developed by Beeline Interactive, Inc. for various platforms including Android and iOS. It plays a lot like other social games that you find on Facebook, which is probably why I wasn't exactly keen on the game.

The odd premise of the game is straightforward enough - you have just started a new cafe and your goal is to  grow it into a successful business. The twist is that the cheapest labor around is not illegal immigrants but the risen undead. And for some reason people like to eat dishes that involve rotten or putrid food.

Gameplay is straightforward enough. In the beginning you are the chef with a single recipe in your book. You can either serve your food to customers or converting said customers into zombie employees - something you can do after they've already paid for a meal. Beyond just acting as your crew in the restaurant, you can also use your zombies to invade the rival cafes owned by your friends who are also playing the game.

The game has all the classic limitations of social games. Different dishes have different cooking times that determine when you need to check back with the game. If you don't serve it right away then the food goes bad and you've wasted your efforts. Zombies have a certain amount of energy and if they get too tired they collapse back into a sort of dead state and take about 8 real world hours to revive. If you've played any other social media game, then you should already be familiar with these quirks.

Now initially the game had a tendency to hang rather frequently on my ASUS Transformer TF101. There were other factors at play like a bunch of different applications silently running in the background and one of those active wallpapers. So I throttled all that down and things ran a bit better but still it was somewhat surprising how demanding the game was on my tablet's resources.

Now social games aren't necessarily bad, but for me they become rather tiring given how time-consuming they actually tend to be. I can't keep checking in on a game to make sure that my food doesn't go bad or that my zombies are told to take a break and stop working. To me it felt like there were just too many elements to juggle and adding in the social factor it was kind of annoying.

I guess the bit that I only truly enjoyed was using my zombies to attack other cafes, but naturally it means a lot of energy spent on a single attack. The fun bit is that you get to steal food from rival restaurants that you can either serve to your own customers or that you can deconstruct in order to add new recipes to your book. Otherwise you'd have to wait for your character of sorts to level up and gain new recipes naturally through experience.

As it stands, I'm really not a social game so this isn't the sort of game for me. Thus I can only rate Zombie Cafe as a 2 out of 5 converted customers, mainly because I felt the social were too limiting and thus affected the gameplay significantly for me in a rather negative manner.

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