Space, Pirates, and Zombies: the three dream-ingredients that form part of the holy trifecta of real-time strategy entertainment for many. MiniMax games has put each part of this finely-balanced equation firmly into the intergalactic real-time strategy action of their title Space Pirates and Zombies. Though the trashy title conjures up images of either a spoofy B-Movies of the likes of Sharknado or Snakes on a Train or the recent wave of zombie-saturated titles, SPAZ is in fact a reasonably sophisticated real-time strategy with plenty of action, elements of the RPG genre, and a top-down perspective reminiscent of Star Control for the Sega Genesis.
For a game with such a throwaway title, Space Pirates and Zombies actually has a surprisingly interesting premise that is reminiscent (at least in part) of the mythology of Battlestar Galactica. The premise revolves around a dystopian future in which a panacea for all resource problems has been discovered: Rez. Rez is a material that can be mined much like fossil fuels, and its ability to be converted into a variety of products including energy has made it rather sought after; it also fuelled the expansion of the human race’s reach to the far reaches of the galaxy.
It is the splitting of humanity into two factions – on the one side an oppressive regime attempting to restore order to an increasingly fractured race, and on the other the ”Civs” who are resisting the regime - that fuels the basic premise of the game, and you play as one of a group of miners whose intention it is to discover the main source of Rez in the universe. Don’t worry: there’s also a bounty hunter theme running through many parts of the game.
The above premise gives rise to some thrilling gameplay that possesses RPG, Strategy, and Shooter elements. Recent expansions have also introduced new elements to the game such as Bounty Hunters, which make things a lot more interesting when you’re exploring certain areas of space. Your primary interaction with the game is through the top-down shooter interface; the camera is fixed in a birds-eye view of your spacecraft as you explore space. The arrangement of the galaxy takes the form of systems with a stars and planetary bodies orbiting them.
Combat is as you would expect from a top-down shooter, with various weapons available for your ship and the opportunity to rise through a technology tree. The combat isn’t as thrilling as many fellow space-based titles (how could anything be as good Elite: Dangerous, after all?). You expand and upgrade your hardware using the Data resource, whilst labour is found in the Goons that can be taken on as crew members.
Pay Mind and Money to Bounty Hunters
A recent update to the game has introduced Bounty Hunters into the equation. For the most part, you can get along without needing to enter into conflict with them, but interacting with them can also have its upside. You need to watch out if you’ve got a bounty on your head, since wandering too far into their territory will put you in danger of being attacked. You can earn/buy respect from these Bounty Hunters however, which ensures that you will be left alone when you venture into their territory.
In the later stages of the game (when the titular zombies make an appearance), Bounty Hunters can weaken the strength of the zombie fleet in return for taking a share of your system resources. You can also straight-up hire them to attack the zombies as well! So well received is the Bounty Hunters expansion that they are also featured in Space Pirates and Zombies 2.
It would be a mistake to write off SPAZ simply because of its title. After all, it has RPG elements, strategic dimensions, and a space-shooter interface to enjoy all at once. Upgrading your hardware through the technology tree is addictive, and even the graphics are fairly impressive as well. The bounty hunter update also serves to add an extra dimension of strategy as well as strengthening the mythology of the lawless, every-man-for-himself nature of the fractured society portrayed in the game. Space Pirates and Zombies is therefore one of the best space and zombie games for mobile you’re going to find at the moment.