Sarah Northway’s Rebuild asks players to rebuild society after the zombie apocalypse by reclaiming land and building, gaining survivors, gathering resources, and — oh yeah — surviving zombie attacks.
The player’s basic goal is to rebuild civilization by reclaiming buildings until he controls the majority of the city and the City Hall. To do so, you’ll need to kill zombies, recruit new survivors, supply your people, expand your territory, and grow your rebuilt civilization. There are also alternate endings to unlock.
Beginning the Game
The diary-entry intro offers choices for players by tapping the red-on-white text. Character name, city name, character gender and appearance are cosmetic choices, but you’ll also be able to select city size and difficulty. A small city on pretty easy is the simplest one to complete. With higher difficulties, the zombies become more dangerous.
Your protagonist begins with one item. There’s no “bad” item to choose, since the game is very well-balanced, but power gamers might like to start out with a pistol (+1 combat) or wrench (+1 building).
You’ll begin with a small team of survivors in a small settlement. Your territory is within the grey, barbed-wire walls. It’s safe here, so you’ll be building hospitals, farms, schools and other essentials of civilization. You’ll also need to fortify this area to keep it safe.
Outside these walls is zombie territory. On a small map, your goal is to reclaim 25 buildings and City Hall to save civilization. Larger maps require more reclaimed spaces. Be careful when sending survivors out into zombie territory alone.
Your Band of Survivors
You begin with a small band of survivors, each of which has some basic stats.
Scavengers are identified by a yellow bag icon. Anyone can be assigned to search and salvage, but these survivors find more food and better items when scavenging.
Soldiers, with the red and white target icon, are good at killing zombies. Enough said.
Builders have a hammer beside their names. They’re faster at reclaiming buildings. Skilled builders are also able to turn reclaimed suburbs into farms or farms back into suburbs, depending on whether you need food or housing. Builders can turn unwanted buildings into essentials like hospitals, bars or laboratories.
Leaders have a blue flag by their name. These survivors are skilled at recruiting new survivors or at keeping everyone’s spirits up by working in a bar or a church.
Scientists, identified by a green beaker, are better at researching new technology.
Survivors gain stats by succeeding in their tasks, by being trained in a school, or by holding a helpful item. Remember that pistol you selected in the intro? Your protagonist is holding it now, but you can hand it to anyone who needs a combat boost against the zombies.
You’ll need food for your survivors right away. You can gather food by scavenging in unreclaimed squares. Locations with the red apple icon are a good source of food.
Anyone can give searching a try, but the survivors with the bag icon will find more food (and better weapons) than unskilled survivors. Each time you search a location for food, you’ll get half of what’s there, so it’s best to keep expanding, rather than continuing to search the same locations many times. Be sure to clear the square of zombies first or send in a guard. Sadly, even your best foragers will probably bring back Twinkies and beef jerky.
Food stores are marked with the red apple icon at the top of the screen, followed by the amount of food your survivors are eating each day. There’s no upper limit on your food stores, and it doesn’t go bad.
You can also get food from farms. Assign your weaker survivors to tend farms. This keeps weaker members of your team safe and doesn’t waste a prime carpenter or soldier on food production.
You’ll also need defenses from zombies. On moderate difficulties, you’ll have a few nights of safety before the zombie attacks are too dangerous. Make sure you have a soldier or two fortifying your police station. Choose survivors with a combat bonus (the red and white target) and equip them with weapons.
It’s hard for survivors holed up in the police station to improve their combat skills. So after a while (a couple weeks of game time or when you remember to check on these loyal soldiers), have these two switch places with two soldiers who’ve earned higher stats through zombie missions.
They say the best defense is a good offense… and you’re playing a zombie game to kill some zombies, right? So send some soldiers to kill zombies in the surrounding squares. It’s best to do this in pairs or trios in the beginning when your survivors are pretty green. They’ll improve their combat stat as they kill zombies.
In the early days, you’re doing well if you’re gathering enough food and surviving zombie attacks and clearing squares. But you’ll need more survivors if you want to be really successful at rebuilding society.
You can find other survivors of the zombie apocalypse holed up in locations with the icon of a person. Send your survivors with Leadership skills (the blue flag) to talk to them for best results. New survivors can only join you if there is sufficient housing, so make sure to reclaim enough apartments and suburbs for all your new friends. Your available and assigned housing is shown at the top, by the house icon.
It can become overwhelming to keep track of all your survivors and make sure that everyone is assigned to their most effective task. ‘Rebuild’ automatically assigns the best survivor to the task at hand…. mostly. If you’re looking for someone to, say, kill zombies, you’ll be prompted to send a survivor with a 3 in combat first, but you may not want to waste a survivor with a 5 in building on a combat task.
To work efficiently, assign a group (or two groups) of survivors to each task, so you’re sending your scavenging team to look for supplies whenever you see a red apple and you’re sending your building team to reclaim areas that have been cleared of zombies.
Each reclaimed building has a different use. You’ll want to find and reclaim a hospital pretty early to care for sick and injured survivors. Bars and churches both add to your happiness score. Reclaim these and staff them with charismatic leaders to make your survivors happy. Occasionally, very happy survivors will get bonuses like extra food. A school will let you train your survivors as scientists, soldiers or whatever else your people need.
To win the game, keep clearing sections, maintaining your food supplies and fighting zombies until you have 25 reclaimed squares and the City Hall to win.
There are several possible endings to your Rebuild story. Here are the paths to two interesting game narratives.
Spoilers ahead! Quit reading now to discover the endings of Rebuild on your own!
Zombie Cult Players are presented with an important choice when one of your survivors writes a book calling zombie-ism a gift. This unlocks a special game path, as you’ll see the rise of The Church of the Chosen Ones, a zombie-loving cult, among your people. To pursue this, encourage your survivors to see the zombies as the chosen one by reclaiming a church, and assigning a charismatic leader to it to spread the word (meaning you should use a survivor with a higher number beside the Leadership blue flag, or equip your survivor with a megaphone for extra help). This fascinating storyline imagines how survivors might react psychologically to the zombie apocalypse. Of course, the narrative does end with survivors leaping over the walls to be embraced by their zombie brethren…. Ban the book to avoid this ending.
Make Science, Not War Instead of pursuing combat or territory, your survivors can pursue scientific advances to eventually cure the zombies. Build laboratories for research and schools to train scientists to perform the research. By focusing on researching radio, you’ll be able to attract surviving scientists… of all sorts. Invite the mad scientist in and let him use the laboratory to pursue this option. Without giving too much away, you’ll be able to see the path to curing zombism pretty clearly when he makes his requests. Don’t allow the mad scientist into your laboratory to avoid this ending.