Zombie Kidz Evolution is a family weight cooperative zombie game from publisher Le Scorpion Masqué. Designed by Annick Lobet, the game sees 2 – 4 players defending a high school against relentless zombies. In around 10 minutes dice will be rolled, zombies will flood the rooms of the school and hopefully the gates will get locked! The twist is that this is a legacy game, so new content will be unlocked by playing. However, can this short experience hook players? Let’s find out!
At the start of the game the double sided player board is put in the middle of the table, the side depending on the player count. Each player chooses one of the four heroes, starting in the the center of the school – in the red coloured classroom. The zombies are then lined up alongside the edge of the board, forming a queue. The first four are placed in the gated entranceway zones of the school, outside the 5 classrooms. The die is then given to whomever will start the game off.
On a turn players will perform up to 4 predetermined actions. The first action is to roll the zombie die. The die features the 5 classrooms, denoted by colour, and a blank side. The next zombie in the queue is added into a classroom, depending on which colour is rolled. If the blank is rolled the team has some respite and no new zombies spawn. While the order of the queue of zombies does not matter initially, remember that things in this game evolve – so this might not always be the case.
The player is then able to move. Movement is up to 1 space, so to an adjacent classroom or entrance way (where the gates are locked). Players do not have to move unless they are in a zone with 3 or more zombies. It is also not possible for a player to move onto a space with 3 or more zombies.
After moving, or staying in the same zone, the player can kill up to two zombies in their zone. The tokens are simply removed, being added onto the end of the zombie queue. The final action of the turn is only performed if two heroes are on the same entrance space. If it is unlocked the two players high five. This causes the gate to be locked. The aim of the game is to lock all four gates. This must be performed before the queue of zombies is empty when a zombie needs to be spawned – where players would lose the game.
Whether players win or lose the game, at the end of playing it is sticker time. For simply playing a brain sticker is earnt. This is tracked on the back of the rulebook. Each game players are also able to score one achievement. These range from simply winning with 2 players through to using unlocked content. This sees the player earn an additional trophy sticker, advancing them further along the tracker. At intervals along this tracker are symbols, when players get to open the associated envelope and get their hands on the new content. With stickers always earnt it allows for some progression each game, with a steady stream of new content every few games.
While Zombie Kidz Evolution features a double sided board unless you play with multiple groups chances are you’ll mostly stick to either the 2 player or 3 – 4 player side. The way the game plays is identical on both sides. The only difference is the number of doorways, meaning more rooms are adjacent for movement on the 2 player side. Nevertheless, there is nothing stopping you playing on the “wrong” side for an easier or harder experience. One of the achievements even encourages two players to try and win one game on the 3 – 4 player side.
The gameplay, even after the unlocked content, is on the simple side. Inexperienced players can jump into the experience a few games in and comfortably understand what to do. This would make the experience ideal for the family weight it is aiming to be. Lengthwise the game is also short enough to hold anyone’s attention throughout, and many will instantly want to play another game. While it can get a little samey after 3/4 games in a row, there is a draw to try for achievements and to unlock the content in the envelopes.
Components at the start are limited, with most locked within the 13 envelopes. The legacy content, without saying what it is, follows a predictable pattern. This is so much so that we were able to guess multiple times the form of the new content, though the exact details weren’t always obvious. Many legacy games rely on players being shocked or surprised by the additional content and this wasn’t present in Zombie Kidz Evolution. However, knowing roughly what was going to come up often made us want that next unlock to see how it would impact the game. A few curveballs would have been nice but not having them didn’t stop the drive to play.
Without the legacy treatment Zombie Kidz Evolution would never have hit the table for the 20+ games that it has. The base experience is very easy and would get old very quickly. With the unlocks of new content every few games this is another story. It remained on the easy side, with the game truly aimed at a family audience. Still, every turn had a choice to it, and it created a chilled legacy experience. Combine this with the short play time and it is incredibly easy to get Zombie Kidz Evolution to the table!
(Editor’s Note: Zombie Kidz Evolution was provided to us for the review by Coiledspring Games. Check out the official website here.)