“They Are Billions offers more than just an RTS zombie experience. It also creates a nail biting and bitter-sweet fleeting satisfaction. Get ready to make tough decisions, and plan ahead for the inevitable onslaught coming your way.“
The concept of the game is simple. Survive.
You do this in the same manner you would with most other RTS games, by fortifying your defenses, upgrading weaponry and troops, and understanding the best placement of buildings and walls.
Unlike other games of the same class, They Are Billions doesn’t just see an enemy horde come swarming in to destroy your base, forcing you to rebuild. Instead, a permadeath mechanic means if you lose, you die, and you go back to the menu my friends.
Each time, you will learn more about the undead scourge, and will perfect your strategy for developing the perfect colony.
At the start of a new game, you are given a few options which will determine the overall difficulty, these are things such as the amount of time your campaign will last, and how dense the population of flesh eaters is. Keep in mind however, that even on the easiest settings, you will encounter tough attacks, sometimes only holding on with a few soldiers or rangers left.
Building up your colony can be a speedy process once you know what you’re doing, but without much in terms of tutorials or instruction it makes for a lot of trial and error in the beginning.
You may find that in your efforts to create a workforce large enough to keep up with the required production of ore, stone, and timber, that your military forces suffer, or your constantly trying to build enough housing for them.
The building system is typical, with multiple resources needed to construct extensions to your colony. Most of the resources won’t replenish at a satisfactory rate, meaning you’ll have to build multiple saw mills, quarries, and keep expanding the reach of your hunters and fisherman.
There is also the upgrade side of business, where you will need to research new technology, new trainable characters, and better, more efficient structures and housing.
The first enemies that venture into the colony do little to no damage, however in the later phases of the game it can take just one zombie slipping through a gap in your defenses and going on to infect all those quiet workers in the fields or the quarry. You all know what happens next, the infected spread in the blink of an eye, and now your well defended colony is literally consuming itself from within.
This is where the bitter sweet part comes in, because you may be able to quickly shuffle your troops around, and protect your assets in a way that allows you to salvage your city, essentially starting from scratch, with a much larger wave of creatures on the way.
That’s just the nature of the game though, but it certainly makes for some fury outbursts after spending a couple of hours growing from a quaint little bunch of folks, to an absolute empire by post-apocalyptic standards, only to be over run due to a poorly placed line of traps, or un-repaired wall.
Testing They Are Billions on PS4 offered up some additional challenges, as the game is designed with the PC gamer in mind, forcing the controller wielding players to move the cursor around in a rather sluggish and inaccurate manner. This leads to some incorrect clicks, and slow issuing of commands when the game heats up. Not impossible, just slightly unpleasant.
The graphics are smooth, but not necessarily anything spectacular, with rather generic looking buildings and various armed units. The enemy is just as generic, and once the swarm starts to increase, their body parts become washed out and it’s more like a shadowy cloud of zombies unless zoomed right in, which in the heat of the moment is counter productive.
Audio-wise They Are Billions has some comical one liners from the various fighters, and some quirky Mayors that offer their services to your colony as it progresses, the ambient noises don’t create an atmosphere in line with a fear-driven society, or grief-stricken reality. Plus, the zombies are too bloody quiet, allowing them to sneak in to your camp if you are focused elsewhere.
This is certainly one for the perfectionist, or any gamer who enjoys a challenge that is slightly different every time. A few areas could be improved upon, and the multiplayer functionality doesn’t offer up as much entertainment as an RTS a little more in line with the classic format, like Command and Conquer, Age of Empires, or Star Craft.
That being said, despite the frustration that comes with losing to the horde after working for a long time to build your pretty little town of terrified zombie-dodgers, you’ll find yourself perfectly willing to start your campaign over “just one more time”.