This zombie puzzle adventure tests your matching skills—and patience.
A while back, it seemed that zombies just dominated popular culture. Of course, the popularity of The Walking Dead certainly helped in that regard. A common fixture in these stories is that the zombie outbreak is caused by a virus. Apparently the voodoo magic of the original stories is more ludicrous than a virus that turns lifeforms into powerful undead berserkers. The Matching Dead, whose title is an obvious parody, follows that decade-old trend. The art style is at least unique among puzzle RPGs, although the question is whether that’s enough to make this game stand out.
Those zombie hosers are a real pain, eh?
The developer, 37GAMES, is headquartered in Shanghai—but has branches in many parts of the world. The Matching Dead seems like it was developed by its North American branch, since the game has a very Canadian vibe to it. The game feels like an Adult Swim parody of The Walking Dead, which might pique the interest of some. Strangely enough, the developer’s website doesn’t even mention the game. It’s almost like they want people to forget about it, or they just haven’t updated their site yet.
The Matching Dead isn’t breaking any new ground. Anyone who has played Bejeweled will more or less know what to expect. Even the concept of tying Bejeweled-style gameplay to an RPG battle system isn’t particularly original. To be fair to the game, nothing is truly original; the execution of the ideas is what really matters. The execution seems solid on the surface, as gameplay itself is quite engrossing. Few things are as satisfying as racking up huge combos and dealing lots of damage. The game also has a wry sense of humor with its characters (or “heroes”) and items. The neckbeard otaku is a particularly amusing hero.
Why this is acceptable is a real puzzle.
One can sum up most of the problems with the game with one word: waiting. The Matching Dead is littered with cooldown timers. The fact that progressing through the story requires expendable resources is absurd. The game can’t even have characters level up in a normal way. Players must expend resources to make their heroes stronger. Gathering said resources is rather time-consuming and annoying. There’s also a VIP system where players need to pay extra for some features, which is just unforgivable. The game basically pressures players into paying to bypass the timers and continue with the game. It even has the nerve to push advertisements onto players.
The game could’ve had amazing gameplay were it not for the ridiculous resource requirements. While the setting and plot are fairly trite at this point, the basic mechanics are fun and engaging. The timers, excessive microtransactions and in-game advertisements that this game has epitomize much of what’s wrong with the Mobile platform. Moreover, the game’s erratic difficulty curve kills the pace with the need to grind. Much like what one should do with the viruses often found in modern zombie media, one is better off avoiding this game.
Is It Hardcore?
The Matching Dead is a derivative puzzle RPG that still provides some enjoyment. The visuals and humor help it stand out a little. Unfortunately, the game’s heavy use of timers and aggressive monetization makes a chore to play after a while. One is better off doing anything else.