Yet another zombie outbreak is upon us with Smart Tale Games’ visual novel Z-End. The undead motif might be “played to death,” but does this game rise above its inspiration?
In Z-End, players take control of a self-named male or female character. Said character is part of a group called The Community, a band of survivors with their own outpost. Things kick off with you doing a scavenger run looking for food, supplies, and survivors. Enter Faye – a lone survivor who is looking for a group to call her own. The game details their journeys back to The Community and the obstacles they come across in each locale. Your typical gamut of shopping malls, police stations, and gas stations are all present and accounted for.
Sounds cliche? It most certainly is. There’s no villain, barely any zombies, and little to no character development. The story is told via text boxes and talking heads, and even though the entirety of the game can be completed in 15 minutes, things drag on. Some of the motives are questionable too – one scene has them entering a car dealership, though they do not find a car after chatting about unrelated things for a few minutes.
Though players can choose where they want to go for each scenario (which encourages repeat playthroughs), there are a number of continuity errors. Players will talk about the events that transpired at locales they never went to, or talk about something that did not happen. It feels broken, like they did not properly plan the script.
During the game, players can choose from a series of options, not unlike the system found in Telltale’s The Walking Dead. However, most choices end up playing out the same way. What makes things especially difficult is the rough translation job this game got – the grammatical and syntax errors are rough enough, but some parts of the game still remain in French. This is a glaring oversight, and it makes it seem like the developers did not care about the final product.
At the end of each playthrough, players can check their statistics, which include the number of times you died, the number of survivors you found, and other factors. None of this really matters though, and though it was nice of them to include it, most playthroughs will play out the same.
Z-End tries to cash in on the success of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, but fails on almost every account. The rough translation, continuity errors, and lack of effort are all apparent.