It’s hard not to refer to Aftermath as a solitary Left 4 Dead clone (albeit a lo-tech one) but doing so would be the upmost flattery rather than ridicule. Its remarkably atmospheric levels and intense feeling of panic would be an impressive feat for a console/PC game let alone one for the iPhone. Being only 59p and achieving so much should make this a must have game but there are a few things that do let it down. Read on to find out what’s holding it back.
The overall appearance and feeling that developers TwoHeads wanted gamers to experience is that of fear. Aftermath does this very well by creating a dark and gloomy environment to play in, filled with zombies who want nothing else but your demise. You are a lone gunman who must make his way across one large industrial map which is split into eight stages. And that’s pretty much where the story ends. There’s no description as to why you’re there, only that you are and must survive. The lack of narrative doesn’t by any means effect your enjoyment though because killing zombies is fun no matter what the reason. From the disturbing intro screen and straight forward UI, Aftermath comfortably houses a dark atmosphere that any horror fan would love. Levels are dark but occasionally lit up by flashes of lightning revealing the hordes of zombies which inhabit them. The only way to see your path is to use your continuously shining flashlight. Other than helpfully illuminating the journey it also shows off some great lighting effects too, a really nice feature in a budget iPhone game.
The torch is not only for travelling however as it’s cleverly used for the games shooting mechanics. Shine your light on a zombie and you’ll automatically shoot at it. No need to press another button just shine and shoot. Your left thumb controls the forward, back, strafe left and right movements and the right thumb rotates that character clockwise or anticlockwise. While not the most traditional of twin-stick it does work very well leading to a smooth control scheme. What isn’t quite so smooth is how you change weapon. New levels bring new zombies and naturally new weapons to kill them. Once you begin to build up your arsenal selecting between them is done by holding the top right of the screen to unfurl a drop down menu of weapons. It sounds simple and should have been but instead was clunky and awkward. Too many unnecessary deaths were down to fighting with this menu and the later stages became less atmospherically brilliant and more frustratingly annoying. Since some zombies are easier killed with specific weapons, you’ll find that swapping between them hurts more than getting bitten.
The levels themselves have excellent pacing and last anywhere between 2-4 minutes depending on whether you run through or waste as many zombies as you can. You progress and unlock the next level after passing through a certain area or collecting a specific item, both of which are highlighted in light green clearly showing where you need to go at all times. As fun as they were, being only eight means that Aftermath is over all too quickly. Sure you have a survival mode where you’re scored on how long you last and how many zombies you kill but the campaign felt more like an extended tutorial making it feel all the more disappointing when it was over. Because the weapons are unlocked as levels progress, you don’t have your full arsenal until the last couple of levels that aren’t even the best ones in the game. While I’m on the topic of niggles, I found that some areas made it easy to feel overwhelmed by zombies especially those who constantly rushed at me. It wouldn’t have been as bad if I wasn’t backed into a corner with no means of escape though even if I did, there isn’t any form of health regeneration (other than a full bar at the start of each level).
But I must remind myself and you readers that Aftermath only cost 59p and at the most will retail for £1.19. For such a price it’s easy to look past the few issues that it has, focusing on everything that it does well; a fantastic feeling of tension and fear, well paced levels that offer unlimited replayability, suitably eerie audio, impressive lighting effects and satisfying handling. Most of all, it’s fun.
A highly commendable game with some truly exceptional moments.