I can’t remember the last time I was so tense playing a game, when you know that one zombie can ruin your perfectly crafted settlement and cause game over in They Are Billions … especially if you name that zombie after someone you hate.
They Are Billions by Numantian Games is an unforgiving but rewarding RTS (real-time strategy) survival game with a dose of tower defense, that will take you from being proud of your settlement and safe to game over in a minute.
Build and Survive
In They Are Billions you are tasked with building your settlement and expanding your territory whilst simultaneously defending your colonists from hordes of zombies.
A depiction of the queue for the toilets at any festival.
Though in this world they are known as ‘The Infected’, you know the deal by now.
Unfortunately one infected getting through your lines to a dwelling can infect all colonists inside causing havoc in your settlement.
You have to start slowly and build your resources; including Workers, Food and Energy, that cannot be stockpiled and Gold, Wood, Stone, Iron and Oil that can.
I admit I’m still finding my feet and when I started I was often in the tips section getting my head around the uses of resources.
Trail and Error is Key
There’s a lot of trial and error involved with They Are Billions to get the right flow early on when deciding what to build and what takes priority right now.
You may want to build more military units to explore but this opens you up to walking into a ton of infected unexpectedly, then even if you run they can follow you home to turn your colonists, which I’m guessing they’re not into.
All too many times I was focusing on one area only for a horde to walk through a gap on the other side and turn all my unlucky citizens into one of their own.
Not an easy life being a colonist in a post-apocalyptic world.
An idyllic place to live until those infected fellas turn up.
The combat is incredibly simplistic with your military of varying classes just shooting the zombies with not many effects, though you can build traps; like stake traps and also great ballista to decimate the infected.
Your randomly selected starting position on the map can impact how well you start as you will need to place your buildings in the right places; for example sawmills next to wooded areas and fisherman cottages next to lakes.
It become apparent early on that placing a quarry somewhere you can farm iron is very important to making the soldier class military as soon as possible to defend your settlement.
As the easier to train Ranger class has much less armour and firepower, despite being faster.
Also the wood workshop is important to researching new types of buildings leading in turn to the stone workshop for building sturdier walls etc.
The various maps in They Are Billions are unlocked by completing survival to certain percentage requirements, providing different environments with varying types of locale to survive in.
Luckily you can change the settings to try and make it easier for you, for example changing your game duration to more days can make it easier as well as adjusting the infected population to very low so you can at least survive for 10 days… not that I’m that bad (cough cough).
This is why the infected can’t have nice things.
As much fun as I had plaything this game, the permadeath element that made me start entirely again after one mistake does get grating.
I won’t make the typical lazy Dark Souls comparison for They Are Billions in terms of difficulty, but it is as hard as old zombie beef, were there such a thing.
Though if self torture and the pursuit of perfection is what you desire by all means fight the infected and build until you can’t hold out any longer and they have their way with you.
- Fun building
- Truly massive hordes
- Strategic planning
- Sense of achievement
- Weekly challenges
- Room for improvement
- Hours of play
- Permadeath can be frustrating
- Game over can happen in seconds
- Every mistake is punished
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How long can you survive and build?
- Overall - 7.5/107.5/10
The tower defense, RTS, building style works well and if you want to strive for perfection and need a challenge this is the game for you.
Permadeath is the price to pay for risking your settlement and the risk reward system can provide a sense of achievement.
Very much a game for hardcore players, but great value for money with the challenge offered.
Human, friend to the animals and serial procrastinator.
Pessimistic Pompey fan and chocolate addict.
@Zeus_Eagle on Twitter