Review: The Walking Dead Board Game / Designer: Cory Jones / Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment / Release Date: Out Now
Spin-off games tend to go one of two ways. Designers either build a game from the ground up, using the source material as inspiration, or more commonly simply slap a pile of relevant tie-in branding onto a set of existing game mechanics. Sadly, Cryptzoic’s version of The Walking Dead Board Game leans more toward the latter, though there are some sparks of genius here and there.
The components are fairly well laid out. The board is a rubberised roll-out mat, and the counters and cards are printed onto good quality card. Images from the TV show are used liberally and to good effect; the zombies look nicely horrible, the heroes suitably haunted and battered. The basic mechanics are very simple. Players roll dice to navigate around the board, and the aim of the game is reach the four corners of the board and then return to base. Every time a player ends their turn on a normal space, they draw cards representing zombie attacks and equipment that they can salvage. Play pretty much continues until either someone wins or one of the characters dies.
If a character dies, they come back as a zombie, and draw from a special deck of cards that makes it harder for the other players to win the game. This is handy because it keeps all the players involved. If it wasn’t for the gory artwork, this element would make it a great family board game, but alas the board is simply too drenched in blood for it to be safe for young ones.
The game suffers from two main problems; the first is that it is very samey and doesn’t really hold up to multiple plays, as there isn’t any strategy here; it’s all about luck. The other issue is the fact that there are a great deal of more original and better designed zombie-themed games out on the market. Zombies! and Last Night of Earth both evoke the joy of a show such as The Walking Dead better than The Walking Dead Board Game. It isn’t awful, it’s simply very average. This would interest the casual gamer, and may work as a warm-up game for a zombiecentric evening’s play, as it only take 45 minutes or so to get through. However, much better games that do the same job are available right now.