Z Dawn Review

Z dawn review title

Z Dawn took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to be compelled to play long hours of Z Dawn upon my initial playthrough. If you were to paint my body grey then, I would have looked like one of the zombies from Z Dawn.

Z Dawn is a survival management RPG that takes pride in being a fast-paced turn-based game with a light touch of roguelike element and having a zombie apocalypse scenario as its foreground. Although Z Dawn describes itself to be a fast-pace turn-based game, the number of turns needed to pass before anything of significant purpose will happen makes Z Dawn incredibly slow.

At the start, you are in control of a ragtag group of survivors with each of them having their own profession. With nothing but a handful of supplies and each other, you set off in the barren wasteland in search for a place to call home. Though creating a safe haven for your survivors is nothing more than having a base of operation, the ultimate goal for your survivors is to get rescued from this godforsaken wasteland.

Z Dawn settling down
Z DAWN | GoldenGod Games

The starting days of your survival are rather straightforward as you spent most of the time searching for a place to settle down. Ideally, you want to establish a base that is within range of both a forest and a mall within a single turn. And once that is done, how you split the group of survivors between defending your newly found home and scavenging for resources would be dependent on the kind of profession that your survivors have.

Professions are in a way, a starting perk for your survivors. The profession of your starting survivors and their stats can be changed before you start the game. Professions such as the Civil Engineers, Farmers and Electricians are catered towards the home base, as it allows them to build buildings faster, farm produce grow faster and have a higher trap defense efficiency respectively.

Whereas professions such as the Military, Police and Nurse are geared towards fighting and survival because it allows the survivors to have better proficiency with certain weapons and healing items. With that being said, as you accept more and more survivors into your group along the way, the clear advantages of such perks can easily be blurred due to the sheer amount of firepower that your survivors will have down the line. Until your survivors have reached such strength, you would spend most of your turn gathering resources to achieve such height. 

Z Dawn character customization
Z DAWN | GoldenGod Games

Resources play a key role in the survivors survival. Necessities such as food, clothes and weapons can be scavenged from the malls. Whereas building materials such as wood, circuits and advanced tools are needed to build and upgrade your base. The former can be harvested from nearby forests, whereas the latter requires you to go out and explore places that can be scavenged for it.

You will discover that the wasteland is the home of not only zombies, but also other survivors as you explore the wasteland. Some are rather neutral about your existence, whereas the rest see you as nothing but a prime target for easy resources. But that should not discourage you from having an amicable relationship with some of the surviving groups. The benefit of doing so allows you to trade resources with each other and if you’re lucky, you can trade your resources for high-end weapons pretty early on in the game.

The execution of Z Dawn gameplay in its entirety can simply be described as simple. Even the combat is simple, as it’s literally taking turns hitting each other with a stick until one of us dies. Maybe due to such simplicity that I find Z Dawn to be a compelling game. But as I progress further into the game, the word compelling slowly unmasked itself to be the word grinding instead.

Compelling and grinding are undoubtedly two sides of the same coin. The difference between the former and the latter is you’re able to tolerate the process even if you don’t enjoy it and the other is you find the process to be nothing but a chore respectively. Z Dawn is one of those rare games that is able to dissolve the beautiful illusion the word compelling is in a game.

At first, you’re naturally compelled to gather resources for your survival and to build your base, for it is on par for the course just like every other survival game out there. But when you have built and upgraded every single building in your base, and getting your survivors decked out with powerful weapons, all that remains is for your survivors to get rescued. And that process is grindy.

The process of getting rescued is the same as you are searching for food and weapons, searching for an item that warrants your survivors to be rescued. But the number of turns needed for an individual to search for an item can take up to 10 turns or more, even then it won’t be the item that you need. Given that the value of such an item is so valuable, make no mistake in knowing that you will take hundreds or even thousands of turns just to find it due to you shuffling back and forth to your base just to store the items that you have found from trying to find the item you needed to justify your rescue.

Z Dawn
Z DAWN | GoldenGod Games

Other than the obvious grind, a minor inconvenience that I have in Z Dawn would be it’s UI. It would be nice to have a text indicator, specifying the items my survivors have found from scavenging instead of a visual representation of the category that item belongs to. Along with a text indicating the result of an item being scrapped. Although it’s minor, it’s a nice QOL improvement to have.

At its core, Z Dawn is a survival management game, and only a subset of gamers would truly appreciate the experience Z Dawn brings because of that. But surviving for too long, you will see what Z Dawn truly is.


Platform: PC(Windows[Played], MAC and Linux) & iOS
Publisher: GoldenGod Games
Developer: GoldenGod Games
Rate: 7.0 out of 10
Price: $10 (or your region equivalent)

Additional Comments: The key to Z Dawn is provided by courtesy of the developers from GoldenGod Games.


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