Most of the time mobile games aren’t particularly amazing and can’t keep your attention for longer than a few minutes, but that’s what they’re made for. Got five minutes on the bus? Quickly go on this mobile game. However Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare is one of those mobile ports that has earned its place on console as a nice pick up and play game.
The goal is simple: send in your survivors to take on zombies and get past them to destroy a blockade in front of your bus before the zombies get to it. As you progress you’ll get new kinds of survivors to use and encounter new enemies to fight as well. Once you earn enough stars from a level you’ll unlock a new set of levels in a new environment. The actual gameplay is equally as simple; just select what unit you want to send out and they’ll do the rest for you.
Obviously there’s a bit more to it than that but that’s the general idea. As you play you will have to account for what your survivor is capable of and what the enemy is capable of as well as the fact the game is based on lanes even though they aren’t apparent at first. For example: as you progress you will unlock a survivor who can throw grenades which are great at clearing groups, but sometimes you will have to fight zombies immune to fire; therefore making the aforementioned survivor useless. Another thing you need to keep an eye on is the courage points you have. These accumulate over time and are used to buy survivors which can be sent out. Better survivors cost more obviously and on top of that there is a cooldown on each survivor so you have to be smart on what you send out and when you send it. There is also another bar which is built up through kills that allows you to clear the area with an LMG at 100 points or buy things such as barrels and medkits to place on the map. These each take up survivor slots apart from the LMG however.
Progression in the game is simple but requires a bit of thinking when it comes to upgrades. As you complete levels you gain exp which give you an overall level that then allows you to upgrade your bus to get more upgrade slots and better stats overall. Levelling up also grants access to more survivors and items to use as well as an extra level you can upgrade each of them by. The thinking comes when you get to upgrading survivors since you have to use supplies you get from missions to upgrade them. Each of these supplies offer different stat increases so you have to think about what you want to give to survivors and who you give them to. So an example of this is would you want to waste a lot of +3 stat items on a lower level survivor or save them for survivors you unlock later to make them better but have a harder time with what you have now? Of course, there is no ‘right’ way to level up but there’s a trade-off for each thing you decide to do.
Once certain levels are complete sometimes you will uncover sections of the map which have new levels in them to play or in some cases there will be a supply crate available to pick up. Usually supply crates are only available from the shop so finding them for free is a nice way of saving coins to buy other things such as bus parts to upgrade it with or upgrade your survivors. Some sections of the map are meant to be returned to later as they contain challenge levels which are much harder than any other level in that map and have their own star requirements, so make sure you’re not taking any damage and getting 3 stars in those previous levels if you want to try the challenges. Getting these 3 stars can be a bit annoying though as you aren’t allowed to take damage to the bus but sometimes a zombie will drop into a separate lane before your survivors can stop them.
The visual style is very simplistic with a pixel sort of style on everything which works well for the kind of game it is and since it came from mobile it is probably one of the best visual styles that could’ve been used for something that received a console port. The audio however is a bit lacking since it gets repetitive after a while but it isn’t bad for what the game is.