Rotten City Review

Just plain rotten. There are some things us gamers take for granted in modern games. Take, for instance, the savegame. The ability to save our progress at convenient points is what separates Dragon Age from Rogue, and Gears of War from Dark Forces. Rotten City neglects to include this feature in an accessible way, and this one omission drags the rest of the game down with it.

Rotten City has plenty of potential. The game is a sort of top-down Left 4 Dead with RPG elements. The player is thrust into a city filled with infected, and must battle their way to the airport and escape. Rotten City places an emphasis on the acquisition of new weapon types and gems, the game’s currency. Each area contains something interesting, be it railroad tracks or a weapons store. These base mechanics are compelling, but the way the game executes them is off the mark.

rcity2Your character levels up in Rotten City, unfortunately the impact is not all that clear, and the game doesn’t even tell you that you have leveled outside of changing a small number in the HUD. Shooting infected can be tricky due to the rigid controls, the whole time you will pine for the infinitely more smooth controls of iDracula. Finding your way out of the city shouldn’t be a cakewalk, but after purchasing a map that doesn’t even include a “you are here” feature you will be both upset and confused. To round out the game’s flaws, the character must walk all the way back to the starting area to save the game. This means you can progress for quite some time, die, and lose all of your progress. Some games I can handle that in, but in an iPhone game this is clearly unacceptable. If you need to leave the game for any reason, you better have enough time to make it all the way back to the beginning- a feat made more difficult due to the game’s cruddy map.

Rotten City feels like a game that can get much better with some obvious updates. The developer has already put some effort into changing the controls, so fixes may well be in store. Until those fixes come, though, Rotten City is a genuinely rotten place to be.

Final Score:


Rotten City is available on the App store for 99 cents

This game was reviewed on a 2nd gen device

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  • squarezero

    I didn’t know I had to choose between Dragon Age and Rogue, or Gears of Wars over Dark Forces. Some games make things easy for you, others force you to make decisions that have real consequences to gameplay. The save system is part of the strategy, and it makes sense within the context of the game. In other words, it’s supposed to be hard, and if you can’t enjoy that, then it’s not the game for you. But that doesn’t mean that the system is bad or broken.

    As to leveling, I’m not sure what you don’t understand about it. You level up skills on particular weapons, which get more powerful as a result. There’s an overall game level based on how much money you’ve raised; the higher the game level, the tougher the monsters. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

    Even though Rotten City has zombies in it (and we’ve seen way too many of those), it manages to play and feel unlike any other game in the App Store. Gamers are constantly clamoring for originality; unfortunately, when an original game does show up it usually gets the treatment you just gave this one. It’s unfortunately, since the game certainly doesn’t deserve it.

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    Here are a few points I suppose I should re-touch on:

    I don’t mind losing all of my progess with a death- only when I have to make all of my progress in one sitting. Even iNethack lets me quit and quicksave.

    Having a quicksave would preserve all of the challenge.

    Actually, the game never explained that you leveled based on your money, thanks. :)

    I love originality in games: Soosiz, Unify, Space Miner, Sword & Poker, Space Invaders Infinity Gene, Tilt To Live, iBlast Moki, Zen Bound, Crush Bunny and Poppi are just a few original games that managed to be fresh and not annoy me at the same time. Rotten City, while it has a fun concept, plays like a bad version of plenty of games on the App Store with a poor save system.

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  • sybsul