Are zombies passe yet? Yes, they are. Some time ago, this game captured my imagination, and apparently I kept a short log of one play-through. I found it, sitting in my drafts, dating waaaaay back to 2008. I chopped up some old photos I took and put a wrap on it. This is me, playing the free-to-print solo game Zombie In My Pocket.
With a few small decks of cards and a notepad, you role-play an intrepid adventurer trying to stop a zombie uprising by locating and burying an idol in a randomly-generated, besieged house. You must do this by midnight. It’s a roguelike in pocket format.
You do this by laying down square tiles, each representing a room in the house. Each turn, 10 minutes in game-time passes, and an event happens by drawing a card. You might find a weapon, you might fight some zombies, or you can take a moment to rest and gain some health back. In all, you have 18 turns to finish the game.
In my experience, it was a pretty well-balanced game, giving you maybe 40%-60% odds of winning each time, with room for tactical choices. A really nicely-designed gem, and free, to boot. Read, and enjoy the purple prose.
Three Hours to Midnight
9:00pm – At the center of the terror lies a house. An eerie light glows in one of the windows, but you’re in too much of a hurry to remember exactly which one must contain the profane idol that started all this. Just entering, you slam the door behind you and bolt the locks, just before the shambling horrors of the undead are able to tear you from the house and toward a hideous death. You’re safe, for the moment, but you only have three hours until the fated hour of midnight, at which point, this whole incident will be irreversible and worse: it’s going to spread.
Stats: Attack 1 Health 6
You are in the foyer.
To your dismay, there are four zombies here!
There’s nowhere else to go. Fortunately, they are still quite weak and much less numerous than those outside, but since you’re fighting with your fists only, they still do considerable damage before you’re able to beat them down. You feel just about half dead now. (4 zeds -1 attack = 3 damage.)
Stats: Attack 1 Health 3
9:10 – You move north and find yourself in a kitchen. You scrounge around and find only a can of soda and a pop tart. You eat them and feel a little better. (found a can of soda, plus one health for being in kitchen = +2 health).
Stats: Attack 1 Health 5
9:20 – You move west and into the family room. It’s empty, or so you think. You slip on some nasty goo and bang your head against the entertainment center. You shake it off after a few minutes and move on. (-1 health).
Stats: Attack 1 Health 4
9:30 – South of the family room is the dining room. No zombies here either, and you breathe a sigh. To the west there is an exit to a large backyard, but first, you consider trying to find the profane artifact in the glowing room you saw from outside. But it’s an even better idea to look around for something to use as a weapon… too bad, all you can find is a lousy candle.
9:45 - You decide to move further into the house, to the south. Bad choice perhaps, there are four zombies in here! You flee in the opposite direction, but one of them manages to claw your side on the way out, tearing out a chunk of flesh. (-1 health)
Stats: Attack 1 Health 3
Two Hours to Midnight, and So Little Accomplished
10:00pm – Back in the dining room to the north, you cower in silence in a gap under a hutch. The bleeding stops, you feel better after a while, but you feel time ticking away… (+3 health)
Attack 1 Health 6
10:15 – You move back north into the family room. The zombies from the bathroom haven’t found you, and maybe it’s just the comforting presence of the television, but you feel a spark of hope. After all, in the movies, don’t the good guys usually win? (+1 health.)
Attack 1 Health 7
10:20 – Moving west, you enter a bedroom with a large luxurious bed… with what looks like the stiffened and blood-soaked remains of two people on it. It looks like they’ve been there for days. Your moment of confidence evaporates as you sense your impending doom. On top of that, you *still* can’t find a weapon. (-1 health.)
Attack 1 Health 7
10:30 – The door to the north is stuck. Kicking it open, you finally find the crude, improvised temple, a trail of blood leading back to the bedroom behind you, and unidentifiable body parts in the center of a precise pentagram scratched into the bare wood floor. You see no idol– at first.
Instead, you find a chainsaw, half-fueled. (+3 to attack for 2 fights.)
Feeling your hope rise again, you keep searching, ignoring a large box for a small, ornate wooden one hidden behind. It’s glowing a rather sickly and foggy red. Inside, you find the idol. It’s smaller than you thought it would be, and it stinks.
You’ve got to take it outside and bury it before midnight. You slip it into your backpack, and it clinks against your keys.
Attack 4 Health 7
10:45 – You move south into the bedroom. The mangled corpses are still there. Unfortunately, so are your four friends from the bathroom…
But the chainsaw makes short work of them. Just like in the movies, they don’t operate so well without heads. They didn’t get even a scratch in, and you give a little extra effort in dismembering the one that got you in the side earlier.
Attack 4 Health 7
11:00pm – Back east in the family room, your smirk fades away. The racket from the chainsaw has attracted five more of the undead. You hear a clock chime eleven and realize that time is very short indeed. You rip into the first one and grimly go to work.
One of them gets you in the leg, tearing away at your flesh with dirt-caked nails. At least, you *hope* it was fingernails that dug in, but there’s no time to consider that. Worse, your chainsaw sputters to a stop– it’s out of gas. (5 zeds – 4 attack = 1 damage)
Attack 1 Health 6
11:15 – It’s just a quick dart south through the dining room and to the west to get to the backyard. Except there are now six very moody zombies waiting for you, and there’s nowhere to hide in here now. You consider running, but you’re on a major adrenaline high and before you know it, you’re brandishing the dead chainsaw like an awkward club.
By the time you’re done, you look almost as bad as they do. (6 zeds – 1 attack = 5 damage)
Attack 1 Health 1
Outside and Only Halfway There
11:30 – You slump outside to the west, the rush wearing off. You’re hardly surprised at all to see 4 zombies shambling through the bushes and deck furniture. Before they can see you, you dash back inside into the dark dining room.
11:32 – You rest again in the same dark spot as before. It eats up the time, but you feel a little better (+3 health).
Attack 1 Health 4
11:40 – Cautiously, you exit the house to the west again, back out on the patio. Your four friends are gone. You hardly have time to breathe another sigh, though, and maybe it’s the wounds festering, but you feel… well, something icky in your mouth. (-1 health)
Attack 1 Health 3
11:42 – There’s hardly time for fear as you move south, past some bushes. Luckily, this part of the yard is empty, and you follow the bushes to the west.
11:46 – There’s a garden here. It is being tended by 6 zombies, or at least that’s what you’d say if you were trying to be funny. Maybe the pressure’s getting to you, but you can’t stop from hooting a little crazily as you retreat to the east… even when one rips a clump of hair out of your head on your way out. (-1 health).
Attack 1 Health 2
11:50 – You wait a few moments in this part of the yard until the area of the garden grows quiet. Exhaustion drags at you as you again move west, all too aware of the time.
11:55 – Your luck… well let’s just say it isn’t good. The garden is… well, more empty than it was before. Just 4 zombies are in your path, and you feel your hope slip away as you again retreat back east.
The same shambling figure manages to grab out another clump of your hair, but at this point, you hardly care. (-1 health.)
11:58 – In the corner of the yard now a third time, you become aware of a steadily rising whine. It seems by now to be coming from almost inside your chest, but then you realize it is coming from your backpack!
Throwing away all caution, you run back out into the garden, not caring what happens next.
12:00am – The whine rises into a pulsating scream, outdoing your own as 5 zombies, suddenly more alert, faster, and stronger, stare straight at you and begin actually *running* in your direction…
It seems quite a while before you lose consciousness forever, and you hardly feel the idol digging into your back at all as its screams turn to laughter, as though responding gleefully to your own horrified shrieking.
Attack Pointless, Health Not So Great
That didn’t go particularly well, but that’s the level of desperation you can expect in a quick game of Zombie in My Pocket. If you’re interested, it’s free as in beer and available in a quick Flash-based format here.
My full map follows: