The zombie apocalypse comes to outer space in Zombie Fleet (Out Now for $0.99, Lite), Chilly Code’s take on the physics puzzle genre. Lacking a shotgun and floating helplessly in zero-G, a space marine relies on handy player-operated magnets to get around and smash the undead.
There are two types of magnets in Zombie Fleet: blue ones that drag your space marine toward them and red ones that push him away. That might seem overly simple, but the game becomes satisfyingly complex once you factor in different laser barriers that zap or provide a springboard for the marine, remote-activated switches, and the fact that several magnets can be turned on at once. Figuring out how to give just the right momentum to your marine at every turn is a consistently interesting task you have to get a feel for, and the puzzles have a deliciously counter-intuitive nature that keeps your brain well at work over Zombie Fleet’s 90 levels.
Where Zombie Fleet falls behind the best genre titles is its handling of sub-goals — smashing through zombies and grabbing little trinkets with the marine. Unless you’re a diehard Game Center achievement junkie you won’t have much motivation for these; they don’t appear to be associated with unlocking new level sets and there are no upgrades to speak of. That, in turn, means the player will be tempted to fly right to the goal rather than put more work into solving the game’s deeper puzzles. At least the trinkets are arranged to suggest solutions in the very toughest levels. Also, fuel constraints on the marine’s movement already make things so dicey that the game’s titular zombies feel like an afterthought by comparison.
Zombie Fleet is certainly made of solid stuff. The momentum physics feel spot-on and the multitouch interface works without a hitch. It’s just too bad Zombie Fleet currently has no in-game music tracks to go with all its appropriately spacey sound effects.
iFanzine Verdict: A physics puzzler that sports great level design but relies completely on achievements to provide motivating glue. Zombie Fleet should hit the spot if you’re a diehard genre fan who loves puzzles for their own sake and can do without a clear reason to go back and replay imperfectly completed levels.