Zombie Cure Lab preview (Gamescom)

Unveiled during Gamescom this week, Zombie Cure Lab is a surprising new title from Aerosoft that’s being developed by Thera Bytes. It’s still quite early in development and we likely won’t see a release until well into 2022, so join us for a very early look at this novel take on the builder/management genre.

What we know

We mostly know German publisher Aerosoft from their simulation games, so the upcoming release of Zombie Cure Lab was an interesting one for that reason alone. It’s a city builder of sorts, and one with a unique premise: a zombie virus has spread across earth, and humanity’s hope now rests with the scientists that are working on a cure for the virus.

With the zombies now ruling the earth, it’s time for mankind to push back by building and expanding a lab and hopefully take back the planet. As this is a city builder/management game, this involves planning the layout of your lab, its various rooms and the machines that need to go inside them. As your population grows, so will your lab – and this is how you’ll grow closer and closer to curing zombies as you unlock the tech tree.

zombie cure lab2

You’ll also need food and other resources to keep your people healthy, and you’ll need to build defenses because the zombies come out at night. This is also when you’re able to capture them, which then allows you to turn them into “humbies”, a cross between a human and a zombie. They’ll go through various stages of being a humbie before they’re cured, but as soon as they’re no longer full zombies you can use them as part of your workforce – although there’s always the danger of them relapsing back into their zombie behavior.

What we saw

During Aerosoft’s NextSim21 event, which was all-digital this year, Zombie Cure Lab was one of the titles we got to see. During a one on one session with developer Thera Bytes, we went over the basics of the game, talked about where the game is in its development, choices that were made and things that were still on the roadmap. We were also shown a video with some early gameplay footage, which we can now share with you as well:

What we thought

Where most zombie games go with a horror theme, for obvious reasons, Zombie Cure Lab presents them in a cartoon-like way. This fits with the relaxing sandbox approach that the developer is taking, which takes inspiration from the likes of Prison Architect in its gameplay. As you can tell from the early gameplay footage, the overworld looks quite empty but a lot of detail has been packed into the lab and the units that you can put in there. Quite a few of them are also animated, so once you get to a bigger lab there’s a lot going on at any given time.

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The developer also indicated that they’re planning on adding Steam Workshop support, letting players create their own humbies for the game. The game is also designed as a sandbox experience for now, although there’s the zombie narrative to push you forward towards an “ultimate cure” as well. We think that having some objectives on the road to that final cure could be a nice way to break up the cycle of resource gathering, base defending and managing your lab though, so hopefully we’ll see some of that as development progresses.

This one’s shaping up to be an interesting and fun take on a familiar genre though, with a nice visual style and the kind of gameplay that makes it easy to sink hours of your time into it. One to watch for 2022.

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