Audio Defence – Zombie Arena Review (iOS)
About eight years ago I received an audio clip and was told to listen to it with headphones on and my eyes closed. It was a scene set in a barber shop where you proceeded to get a haircut. Through the manipulation of the sound coming through the speakers it felt as if the barber was moving around your head and giving you a haircut with a set of clippers. There is also as wee bit were he wraps your head in a towel and everything gets muffled but you can still hear another customer enter the shop behind you. It was a pretty immersive experience that had me thinking that it would be interesting if it could be used in videogames. Fast forward to 2014 and the release of a game about a blind warrior who enters an arena full of zombies and you are now in the world of Audio Defence – Zombie Arena.
Audio Defence – Zombie Arena is a zombie shooter with a difference: there are no graphics as such. Your iPhone or iPad is transferred into a controller which allows you to fire, reload and choose your weapons but that is it, you will never see the zombies. Instead you need to listen to where the sounds of the zombies are coming from and turn so that they are facing you and you can fire your weapon. It is an interesting concept and is best explained by Somethin’ Else themselves in their launch trailer.
The game works really well; you can hear the zombies appear from one direction rather faintly at first but then get louder as they get closer. The sounds also switch from left to right as you spin around with the trick being to try and get the zombie in front of you ( get the sounds coming through both ears at an equal volume). This obviously gets a little more difficult when there is more than one zombie coming towards you. You then need to discern which enemy is closer and deal with them quickly; one bite from these zombies and you are done for.
For a game like Audio Defence – Zombie Arena to work, there needs to be a little bit of effort from both the player and developer; the player needs to allow himself to be immersed in the world and the developer has to create a believable scenario for this to take place. The game is therefore split into stages where you discover that you are a blind warrior entering the sick arena of death belonging to the evil Dr. Bastard. This is unfortunately the weakest part of the game for me. Dr. Bastard talks incessantly; he makes bad jokes and is portrayed as sort of a clown more than a mad genius. There seems to be a running joke when releasing zombies for you to fight that he sometimes pulls the wrong lever and releases something else instead. The constant bombardment of these jokes reduces Dr. Bastard to a camp annoyance. At the early levels there is also another voice you hear at the beginning of the stages. This female computer voice guides you through some of the controls and teaches you how to play the game. In the opinion of this reviewer, it would have been better if the female voice was the main character, giving the game a kind of Running Man (or Hunger Games if you please) feel to it. There is an endless mode that can be unlocked after playing and putting up with Dr. Bastard for two chapters. This is a far superior and scary mode and is the only way to play once you have unlocked enough goodies.
Because you need to spin around and be standing whilst you play it, Audio Defence – Zombie Arena is not the most portable of games, which is ironic given the platform it’s released on. To this end Somethin’ Else have created two additional control schemes that can be used when you are not able to stand and turn around like a loon. The Touch control scheme allows you to swipe your finger across the screen to simulate your turning. Although you are physically not turning the sound does “move” about as if you are. The Tilt scheme works similarly but you tilt the screen left and right instead of swiping. Whilst both schemes work well, they do not deliver the same experience of being able to turn and face the zombies.
Audio Defence – Zombie Arena is a very clever game that delivers on an interesting idea. It gives you a taste of the terrifying experience of being blind throughout the zombie apocalypse. I don’t think it’s a game you will play a lot of but at two quid it’ll be one of those “you’ve gotta try this” apps on your phone.
3.5 groans out of 5Audio Defence - Zombie Arena Review (iOS),