Construction Complete: Rebuild 3 Out Of Early Access

If you want to spoil other games that straddle the imagined psychogeography of the casual/hardcore divide forever, the Rebuild series [official site] is a good place to look. On the surface, these strategic games of zombie uprising aftermath survival and urban reclamation are simple, colourful resource-gathering exercises, but they’re cleverly balanced and squeeze plenty of flavour out of the setting. Since the earliest Flash incarnation of the concept, Sarah Northway’s games have appealed to me – ideal to dip into during the eternal coffee break of the soul.

The third title adds factions, a splendid revamped UI and much more. I’ve played the early versions of the Early Access release but now, with the campaign complete, the game is ready to launch.

I dipped into the campaign this weekend. It takes place across a dozen cities, the difficulty increasing as you go. On top of that, there are survivor relationships to handle, loot to gather, 50 types of building to construct – everything you’d expect in a bulked up strategy-survival game of this type. It’ll take another few hours of play to figure out if the campaign structure is a comfortable fit – it risks becoming repetitive if each city doesn’t distinguish itself – but almost everything I’ve poked at so far has more depth than I expected. That goes for tech trees, characters, mission types and loot.

The greatest advance over the previous games is the UI. It’s clearly improved and, hand in hand with the presentation, can serve to make Rebuild seem like a simpler thing than it is. Sure – it isn’t a grand strategy survival sim, but it’s a tight turn-based brain-tickler that has more fun with the zombie theme than a hundred first-person shooters.


  1. AngoraFish says:

    Rebuild 3 is a fantastic game. I’ve played 50 hours so far, including 40 since release of 1.0. This puts it at #15 on my Steam account for total time played (out of over 1400 games), and I can easily see myself putting in at least another run through the campaign yet.

    What I don’t think that many people seem to be picking up is that Rebuild is actually a 4X game that happens to have a zombie theme. It has expansion, tech trees, unit movement (people), combat, diplomacy (with other factions), building and fortification.

    Gameplay will particularly appeal to natural turtlers, like me, people who like to build a solid and impenetrable perimeter before expanding further, then edge out slowly grapping a strategic resource here and there then fortifying again. Rebuild 3 might be my perfect game.

    Think of Rebuild as Civ light, with the average map playing out in 1-2 hours rather than 15.

    • dontnormally says:

      The most sterling of recommendations – thanks for that!

    • HSuke says:

      I cringe when this is compared to Civ, which can get tediously complex and monotonous late game when each turn can take 30-60 minutes to complete. Rebuild is much lighter and better paced. More like a cross between an RPG and a 4X.

  2. Lionmaruu says:

    I think I played the early version in flash on kongregate, it was very good indeed, I may buy it now.

  3. Kollega says:

    Oh lookie… at last, someone had the logical idea to make a game about rebuilding after a zombie apocalypse, as opposed to just surviving the zombie apocalypse. At times, it gets kind of ridiculous how in zombie-themed games and zombie-themed fiction in general, the objective is almost always “survive” or “escape”, as opposed to “fight off the zombie threat and rebuild”. I mean, I get it in non-interactive fiction, but in games that is a huge omission, considering the rich history of city-builders, RTSes, and other games where you build and organize things. And I also get that in some stories, rebuilding civilization may be difficult because of how few people are left alive, but in many zombie stories there are enough survivors to create factions, plus the government hasn’t been destroyed either… and that’s when there aren’t more survivors than zombies.

    In short, kudos to the developers. Surely taking the fight to the undead and rebuilding civilization can be just as exciting as running away all the time with no clear end goal.

    • Frank says:

      “Oh lookie”

      Rebuild came out over four years ago. And while the theme is very well done, I’m more impressed by the game design. (Kickstarter backer here.)

      • Kollega says:

        I only said “oh lookie” because this is the first zombie game I ever saw that concerns itself with restoring civilization. Admittedly, this might be because I do not watch many zombie games, but you gotta admit – such thing is as rare as parfait ice cream in an undead-infested city :P

        And in a game like this, wouldn’t gameplay and theme be heavily intertwined, so that if one is good, another is also bound to be good?

  4. pepperfez says:

    What kind of lame-o picks a sword over a nail board? No style at all on that girl.

  5. teije says:

    I played an earlier rendition of this on the iPad and it was very enjoyable. Plays fast, but lots of decisions to balance with the pressure of the zombie hordes building up to add tension. Definitely will pick this one up.

  6. jgf1123 says:

    Kickstarter backer here. Starting each game is fun, as you’re an island of safety in an ocean of zeds, trying to balance recruiting and food, trading for equipment, where to expand next, etc. My main concerns: until you find a lab, you’re locked out of research; if you choose to ally (instead of eliminating) the opposing factions, the game can drag on.

  7. Pantalaimon says:

    Looks well made but I have to wonder if and how much it improves upon the likes of State of Decay, since they share a lot of the mechanics. Not to say that it can’t be fun playing a similar game from a different perspective of top-down management, but that game really set the benchmark as far as zombie games go (and the survival RPG genre besides).

    • Damien Stark says:

      I really like State of Decay, and I love Rebuild.

      As you say, there’s a lot of similarity there in concept, but “colorful turn-based-strategy” is pretty different from “muddy third-person action”.

      For me the biggest problem with State of Decay is that after a while the actual execution starts to drag – “I have to pick yet another underskilled person to train them up, and drive all the way to the other side of the map to gather supplies, AGAIN?” Rebuild spares me that execution while being interesting in concept.

  8. croucrouic says:

    I think this game deserves more attention.

    To give an idea, my favorite games include : CKII, King Of Dragon Pass, uplink, rebuild.
    Rebuild has team-building/rpg/strategy/good-writing. There is that moment when you pause the game and think of your next moves. You think short term and long term. The campaign is ok but the meat is in the skirmish mode. For a long time it was IMO the best flash game ever made. Even the previous versions are great (and free). I gotta warn you it’s a time sink, but one of the best for his size.