PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville

Rebuild 3 is a game about city management, managing that city's populace, its food supply, its resources, and the zombie hordes that surround it.

Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville

Publisher: Northway Games
Format: PC
Price: $14.99
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: N/A
Developer: Northway Games
Release Date: 2012-05-29

I found myself rather taken with a little flash game that I played on Kongergate a few years ago called Rebuild ("Rebuild, A Game About Zombies and the Economy", PopMatters, 16 August 2011). Developed by Sarah Northway, this free to play zombie infested game took a slightly different take on the genre, presenting not another survival horror game about fleeing from and blasting zombies. Instead, the original Rebuild is a city management game, though one about managing a city's populace, its food supply, its resources, and the zombie hordes that surround it.

Besides its well executed turn based mechanics (due in large part to a fairly intuitive interface for directing your survivors of yet another zombie apocalypse), what I liked about the game was its rather interesting approach to apocalyptic fiction. Unlike your typical zombie game or zombie film, Northway's game was about merely surviving, but as the title suggests and the game's mechanics reinforce, this is a game about rebuilding despite and in the face of the apocalypse. It was not merely about getting by, but trying to get somewhere despite overwhelming doom threatening on all sides.

Essentially, Rebuild puts you in charge of a group of survivors in a city beset by zombies. You need to manage resources like food, building materials, ammunition, and the like, while assigning your people to various roles, like soldier, builder, leader, engineer, and scavenger. In addition to preparing defenses for potential zombie raids at night, the player is tasked also with attempting to build and expand safe territory within the city, to make a secure place livable within the city by reclaiming or building apartments, factories, workshops, schools, police stations, etc. You also can outfit individuals that you recruit with weapons and other equipment to improve their abilities.

The thing that was neat about the game is that small encounters effected your individual workers, creating neat little melodramas within the larger framework of the city building and area control game at the center of the experience. I actually ended up using Rebuild in a course I taught a few semesters ago about video games and narratives (how video games tell stories) because of the rather clever ways that drama emerged from the gameplay.

Northway followed up the game with another free to play flash game called Rebuild 2 not too long after, which featured similar, but slightly more refined packaging and gameplay. However, I was delighted to discover recently that Northway had followed up with a third game in the series, but this time packaged for a consumer audience on Steam, Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville.

Rebuild 3 once again offers the same basic premise as the first two games. Additionally, though, even more narrative elements have been layered onto the experience through the addition of factions of other survivors (that is, the “gangs” alluded to in the game's subtitle) to compete with or ally yourself with during your attempt to rebuild during the zombie apocalypse.

The gangs here add even more color to the game, with groups like the religious sect, The Last Judgment, or the hippie conclave, The Luddies, or the group of lost boys, St. Michael's School for Boys, serving as interesting and amusing antagonists to compete for control over several city blocks with. These groups create subquests in the larger framework of the game, things to accomplish to either get these guys on your side or off your back as you attempt to complete campaign missions. Also, many of these missions flesh out the backgrounds of these other survivors and begin to flesh out a larger mythology for the world of Rebuild itself.

Rebuild was already an addictive experience that stole hours of my time (hours that I don't in any way regret losing) when I first encountered it in its free to play form. I've found Gangs of Deadsville to be equally addictive, discovering that an hour or two that I intended to spend playing through a mission quickly becomes four or five hours spent getting through two or three missions because I just want to see what might happen next. Rebuild is a different kind of zombie apocalypse tale, one that is not so hopeless because it uses the mechanisms of city management to allow for a new approach to the genre's traditional approach to survival, challenging you to not just settle for difficult circumstances but to rebuild even in the most dire of circumstances.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.