We really wanted to like Wobbly Tooth's Ice Station Z. An open world, multiplayer zombie survival game that takes place in a cold setting, Ice Station Z looked different than other 3DS eShop titles and we'd hoped for a challenging, solid survival experience. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to its potential at all, instead offering a janky, simplistic and frustrating slog through bland random environments.
In Ice Station Z players have to survive a wintry world inhabited by zombies. There's no tutorial or direction, which initially makes survival seem exciting and thrilling, but players will soon be wishing they had some kind of direction or goal.
Various items are littered throughout the random expanse, such as guns, bullets, knives, food, and new clothes. The player's health and hunger must be monitored at all times, meanwhile, and sleeping and warming up inside buildings is essential. Sleeping and other activities are done via small, poorly explained timing-based minigames. The touch screen is used for the map, status and inventory screens, which are more confusing to navigate than necessary. To Wobbly Tooth's credit, the interface is designed like a smartphone, which at least tries to create an immersive experience.
Environments, though randomized, are repetitive and quickly lose their appeal. The most interesting areas we found were underground tunnels that didn't seem to lead anywhere. Just when we thought we were about to find something interesting, we walked on terrain that was clearly not programmed as such and died. Game-breaking bugs like this are unfortunately scattered throughout, with hit detection being a real problem. We were also surprised when we realized we could run through trees. Combat is also clunky, with hits feeling random and unfair. As for the touted online multiplayer, we couldn't find a single other user online in our many attempts; that's not a game flaw as such, but is a major feature that can't be easily enjoyed.
The low quality visuals and sparse sound only add to the game's poor presentation. Looking at the player avatar reveals an extremely primitive polygonal model, and that's representative of the broader picture in this one.
There's not much to say about Ice Station Z, other than that it feels like a prototype or a proof of concept more than a final game. If there's hidden depth to be found, we certainly didn't come across it, and if things pick up later in the game very few are going to stick around for the experience. Ice Station Z, unfortunately, is not worth your time or money.