Into the Dead 2 is the sequel to PIKPOK's original zombie auto-runner Into the Dead. It takes everything you enjoyed about the first title and adds a ton of polish and a new overarching story that ties together the game's 7 chapters, 60 stages, and hundreds of challenges. And to top it off, you can now equip a canine companion to join you along your journey through a zombie-filled world.
For the most part Into the Dead 2 is a simple level-based auto-runner. A fantastically detailed looking auto-runner, but an auto-runner all the same. It is your job to reconnect with your family during a zombie apocalypse and navigate the title's 60 levels by running past zombies, or simply shooting the ones who get in your way. As you run through each stage, you will have the chance to pick up more ammo at particular smoke points placed on the map. Running out of ammo is a big no-no in this game, so you will have to think quickly in order to make sure you can make it through each stage's zombie-filled gauntlet with enough bullets to keep you alive.
The controls work simply enough. By sliding your left thumb on the screen, you can slowly shuffle your character in the direction you would like to go. When it comes time to shoot a zombie, the default controls have you tapping on the right side of the screen. There are also a couple of optional control schemes you can switch to from within the game's settings. This way everyone should be covered for their preferred control method.
For the most part, the default controls feel natural enough, though it'd be nice to be able to move to the left or right a little more quickly. But of course, they are most likely programmed like this to add some challenge to the gameplay by not allowing you an easy way to juke the zombies.
Now, before you start a stage you have the option to equip two different weapons, and once you have progressed a bit, a canine companion. You start out with a pistol and a shotgun, but these weapons can, of course, be switched out to more powerful options once they are unlocked. You can also upgrade these weapons although you will need to earn extra weapon parts through the title's many loot boxes.
These loot boxes contain a wide swath of random loot, such as in-game currency, weapon parts, or one-time use item perks. Usually, you earn these by completing a stage or its challenges, but you can also purchase them outright with the game's secondary currency of gold. This gold is of course only purchasable through in-app purchases that range up to $54.99, which is a bit of a jump in IAP price from the first tile in the series.
This all means you will be grinding your way to victory if you choose to play for free as the gameplay gets quite difficult pretty quickly. One-use item perks such as knives and grenades will come in very handy throughout this grind, but those too also need to be grinded for if you are not purchasing them outright. If you do want to buy them, there are a few that can be gained with the primary in-game currency of silver or you could simply watch an optional advertisement to try your luck with a low-end loot box. Sadly being stuck on a later stage usually results in the player going back to a previous one to grind for more of these item-filled loot boxes. Luckily each stage has a wide assortment of objectives that you will never beat in their entirety on your first run, which at least makes these repetitive visits a little more palatable.
The thing is, each stage you play through uses up stamina. So your play time will be limited to however much stamina you have and can earn unless you purchase more with the game's secondary currency of gold.
Since this is a hands-on with a soft-launch title, that does mean Into the Dead 2 is not yet available for most regions. The good news is the game is set to be officially released on the Play Store on October 13th. This means there is luckily not that much longer to wait for the global launch.
It is also worth pointing out that Google Play Games Services is supported with the inclusion of an achievement system. Sadly leaderboard and cloud save support do not appear to be present.
For all intents and purposes Into the Dead 2 is without a doubt a free-to-play, loot box filled, limited stamina title that is not shy about its monetization methods. Mostly you can ignore the majority of these and enjoy the beautiful looking auto-runner gameplay, but there will always be a good bit of grinding involved unless you start sinking real money into the game. So if you are the type of person who doesn't mind the grind or you simply have a large wallet, the intriguing story and enjoyable gameplay offer a good bit of fun that is at the very least worth the introductory price of free.