Potatoes, tomatoes and brains with Zombie Farm 2

The Playforge was one of the first independent developers to generate a massive hit in the iOS App Store with its game Zombie Farm. However, the bootstrapped mobile developer has so far struggled to repeat this success with follow-up titles like Zombie Life and Tree World. Now the company is going back to its roots (no pun intended) with an official sequel to its big hit — Zombie Farm 2.

Zombie Farm 2, like its predecessor, casts players in the role of a custom avatar whose job it is to farm crops and, for some reason never made entirely clear, zombies. This is achieved in the same way as every other social farming sim out there — plow fields, plant crops (or zombies), wait for them to mature (or hurry them along with premium items), harvest them before they wither. Quests are provided to direct the player’s experience and encourage them to try out all of the game’s mechanics, which also include the ability to fuse zombies together to make cross-breeds and mutants, adding a mildly diverting “collection” aspect to the mix.

Where Zombie Farm 2 differs from the numerous similar titles available in the App Store is in the minigames available for players to enjoy, the main one of which is the “invasion” game. Once enough zombies have been collected, the player is able to “invade” one of several environments and attempt to break their way through a series of computer-controlled defending characters. If successful, the player is rewarded with items and currency, but any invasion carries the risk of zombies dying their final death. On the other hand, zombies who survive an invasion level up and get stronger, allowing them to take on increasingly difficult challenges as the game proceeds.

Players also have access to a minigame when visiting their friends, where they must chase their neighbor’s zombies around their farm and catch as many as possible before a time limit expires. If they are successful, they are rewarded with bonus currency. It’s a much more interesting, compelling reason for players to visit friends that simply going and tapping on a few of their crops for meager rewards.

For fans of the original Zombie Farm, however, it’s difficult to ignore quite how similar Zombie Farm 2 is to its predecessor. The player avatars are the same, many of the graphical assets are the same, the background music is the same and the basic gameplay, too, is almost identical. Players are even able to transfer their original Zombie Farm over to the new game, making it hard to fathom why this is a whole separate game rather than a major content update to the original. The approach taken here runs the risk of fragmenting the game’s user base, though Playforge is presumably counting on the few improvements to the basic formula providing compelling enough reasons for players to switch to the new title rather than sticking with the original — both are, after all, free to download.

It remains to be seen whether or not Playforge’s gamble with Zombie Farm 2 will pay off — it’s a competent, well-produced game, but the App Store of today is a very different, much more crowded place to how it was back in 2010. It will certainly be one to watch in the coming weeks and months.

Zombie Farm 2 is out today. Follow its progress through the App Store charts with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.