What if we were to tell you that the zombie apocalypse is coming, and it will begin right outside your door? That’s the scenario that mobile games developer PerBlue has created in their new title Parallel Zombies. Using the GPS capabilities of Android devices, the game lets players walk through their home and familiar locales with the addition of the undead. The game is now available in the Google Play store.
We sat down with PerBlue team member Ellie Humphrey to discuss the company’s latest release, including what’s unique about their spin on the zombie genre, location-based gaming, and weapons of choice in the zombie apocalypse.
Question: There’s no shortage of zombie-related titles in the world these days. What sets Parallel Zombies apart?
Ellie Humphrey: Parallel Zombies is a location-based RPG exclusively for Android. We’ve got 15 gruesome types of zombies and nine weapons designed to annihilate them. The game is played out on Google Maps, and players interact in real time with others in their own neighborhood. Players will be encouraged to travel the globe and complete missions at special points of interests, like the White House and Area 51.
What sets this game apart from other zombie games out there is that it isn’t about mindlessly hacking away at zombie after zombie. It’s about strategically leveling up your character, and joining friends to complete missions and gather weapons as you try to save the world.
What are some things that being a location-based game allows that otherwise wouldn’t be doable?
Humphrey: Location-based gaming is a very unique gameplay experience. The coolest aspect being that you are literally playing in your own backyard. For this title, players will be fighting zombies and saving neighbors in their city.
In addition, we’ve included a ton of real points of interest in every city. Places like hospitals, airports, gas stations, and even graveyards will appear on the gameboard and are associated with missions within the game. Global landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza and Niagara Falls will contain special missions with extra rewards.
Since the game is based on location, how is travel handled if the player isn’t physically moving?
Humphrey: Traveling virtually has been a big part of Parallel Kingdom (PK) and Parallel Mafia (PM) for some time. We have an in-game invite system and Trade Hubs located around the world that can be accessed for a small fee. Our goal was to encourage players to travel around the planet without them having to waste hours watching their avatars scroll left or right.
In PZ, there will be several ways to get around quickly and efficiently:
Highway Signs: Using green highway signs found all over the gameboard, players will be able to instantly transport to nearby neighborhoods or cities.
Missions: Players can also travel by completing missions and rescuing NPCs. If players continue to assist NPCs, they will rewarded by being transported to more difficult missions all over the world. This gives players a much more tangible bonus for completing missions, compared to the standard experience points and special items.
Invitations: Similar to PK and PM, we have an in-game invite system, allowing players to meet up with others in their area — or around the world! New to PZ is the ‘Find Group’ button, instantly matching players with others in their immediate surrounding.
This will be the first Android-only release from PerBlue. Why move away from iOS devices?
Humphrey: Our existing titles have shown us that our players are overwhelming Android users. Instead of splitting our development resources, we’ve decided to focus solely on an Android version for the time being. We’re launching exclusively on Android, but if we see great results, we may choose to develop an iOS version as well.
Graphically, Parallel Zombies looks like a bit of a change from previous Parallel titles. What’s new and why?
Humphrey: The first thing players will notice about our graphics is the size and detail of the in-game avatars. No longer are players represented by floating heads with tiny legs, but full-bodied characters that have a lot of animations and movements throughout the game. We learned that our players really connect with their avatars and want them to be as customizable as possible.
New animations accompany combat, because killing zombies is much more satisfying when there’s blood involved. Finally, the home screen menu has changed significantly. We’ve still got the avatar’s HP and EXP, but we’ve added quick slots — allowing for quick weapon changes and access to both health boosts and specialized skills.
Both Parallel Kingdom and Parallel Mafia have been pretty successful releases. Do you think you’ll be splitting your own user-base with the addition of Parallel Zombies?
Humphrey: Not necessarily. While there is potential for some cannibalization (no pun intended), overall we think Parallel Zombies (PZ) is very different from our past games.
PZ is an entirely new gameplay experience, where the location-based aspects and co-op play have been completely redesigned. Parallel Kingdom and Parallel Mafia are all about creating clans or mafias and taking over buildings and territories. Parallel Zombies is centered around connecting with your friends and completing missions in real-life locations.
PZ is much more action focused. Past titles had players clicking menus to choose attacks. The game allows players to fight zombies with guns and chainsaws in real time using the game’s attack buttons and virtual joystick.
What mechanics are going to be familiar to Parallel players? What’s going to be brand new to them?
Humphrey: Similar to our previous titles, there will be a crafting system to create bigger and badder weapons, and the game will take place on the Google Maps screen. Chats and messaging will be the primary social mechanics within the game.
What’s new for PZ is the multi-touch controls. We’ve added a joystick and action button control, making movement much more deliberate and real time. New character classes and a re-themed skill tree has been created to suit anyone’s style of survival. The game is played with Google Maps’ satellite view, making players feel like zombies really invading their city.
Missions are the biggest improvement and largest mechanic we’ve added. Players will be guided through their city, saving NPCs as they interact with points of interest in their city. Completing missions will unlock rewards and travel opportunities.
How important is co-op functionality in PZ?
Humphrey: Co-op play is one of the most significant and enjoyable parts of the game. The ‘Find Groups’ menu item makes is easy for players to join others and complete missions together. Using drop-in-drop-out multiplayer, players can explore with friends or find fellow PZ players nearby.
There will be no PvP elements in this title. We wanted to give players the feeling that the zombie apocalypse has finally arrived and working cooperatively with fellow survivors they can help save the world!
The zombie apocalypse is, presumably, never-ending. Do you plan on having on-going support for survivors with additional weapons, defenses, clothes, etc.?
Humphrey: Absolutely. We plan on releasing more items, clothing, and weapon skins in the future for players. More importantly, we will be adding more missions that dive deeper into the main story line. Our Game Designers will release additional storylines and missions that shed light on what caused the zombie apocalypse and if there is any hope of saving humanity.
The zombie apocalypse is starting right now. What’s the weapon of choice of PerBlue team members, and who’s the first to die?
Humphrey: We’ve got seven in-game guns that are really sweet, but I’ll probably be wielding the chainsaw or the axe.
As for who would die first, it definitely wouldn’t be me. I’ve been training for a Tough Mudder, an obstacle course race over a ten-mile route, so I think I’m pretty well prepared for a zombie apocalypse.