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iPhone  header logo

Stenches: A Zombie Tale of Trenches

For: iPhone

Stench warfare

Product: Stenches | Developer: Thunder Game Works | Format: iPhone | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
 
Stenches iPhone, thumbnail 1
Every good zombie epic needs an inexhaustible supply of fresh corpses, so the preponderance of dead bodies piled in World War I trenches provides the perfect setting for this undead-themed update on Thunder Game Works’s well-liked tactics game Trenches.

You assume control of a plucky band of British solders charged with repelling enemy forces in war-torn France. The key difference here is that instead of fighting German soldiers you’re up against zombified German soldiers.

It’s a subtle alteration, but one that has a noticeable impact on gameplay - however, the failure to incorporate multiplayer and more than one playable nation make for a slightly inferior follow-up.

The battle lines are drawn

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You can create units and move them around the battlefield by drawing lines. The arena of conflict is a long, thin strip of land packed with trenches, barbed wire, and other obstacles.

The ditches provide cover for your units, and can be transformed into concrete bunkers by engineers, offering greater refuge to a larger volume of brave English Tommies.

Cash, which is collected by tapping the coins dropped by felled enemies, is used to create new units and improve your defences. The longer your soldiers remain alive, the more experienced they become, and this makes it easier to keep the slavering hordes at bay.

So far, it’s all very much like Trenches. Yet the lumbering nature of the antagonists forces a dramatic change in strategy.

Unlike their living counterparts, zombie soldiers don’t make effective use of cover or adopt any kind of military planning. They just shamble towards you in the hopes of cracking open a tasty British skull.

Mmmm…brains

Since the zombies don’t make use of the trenches available to them, the war of attrition which characterised Trenches's methodical gameplay is gone. Instead, the game feels more like tower defence, where the enemy marches out in waves and it’s your job to ensure that each successive group is successfully repelled.

The zombies come in several different varieties. The standard soldier unit walks slowly and falls reasonably swiftly to your guns. The dog-like variant is faster and proves to be a real headache when massed in groups.

Tank-like spider zombies are slow and cumbersome, but they take more punishment than their weaker brethren, and once killed they explode in a poison gas cloud which is deadly to your soldiers.

The brute zombies are possibly the most worrying, as they are capable of hurling other zombies towards your trenches like bowling balls, as well as punching your concrete bunkers to dust. If one manages to reach one of your defensive lines, it will make mincemeat out of the troops contained within.

Brute force

Although Stenches shares plenty of core concepts with its predecessor, the change of pace makes it feel totally different. It’s all about marshalling your forces, building up your defences and making good use of artillery and mortar fire to weaken powerful zombies before they get within striking distance of your forces.

Stenches is also incredibly challenging. On the easiest difficulty setting it feels pedestrian, but all it takes is one strong wave of zombies and your finely-tuned battle plan falls to pieces in double-quick time. Playing on Medium or Hard is a truly testing experience.

Having said that, Stenches still suffers from the same shortcomings that afflicted Trenches. There are several different battleground settings – including a wasteland and urban area – but the general gameplay remains the same throughout.

You still only get to wage war as the British, and the developers have once again missed the opportunity to add depth to the game by including other Allied factions.

Also disappointing is the absence of multiplayer. Trenches was updated with multiplayer, so expecting this follow-up to include it from the get-go isn't unreasonable.

These missing features prevent Stenches from offering replay value and variety. While it can be enjoyed, it's disappointing that more wasn’t done to make this seem like a true sequel, rather than an zombie-themed expansion pack.
 
Stenches: A Zombie Tale of Trenches
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 30 November 2010
The introduction of the undead gives Stenches an interesting change of pace, but more variety would have earned it a medal of distinction
 
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