District Z

By | December 10, 2020

Friday, 8:05pm GMT/9:05pm CET

This looks as though it might be, you might say, right up our alley. It’s Resident Evil Boyard, and it’s been made by Arthur’s production company (the mononymous French host and DJ, responsible for hosting our fave version of Deal or No Deal). A bunch of celebs have two hours to infiltrate District Z, challenged by its mysterious billionaire owner, and complete challenges to win gold bars. But they have to avoid being contaminated by ZOMBIES.

It looks like it’s had quite the budget spent on it (the set’s the size of ten football fields, apparently). Outside of France you’ll probably need a VPN to watch it – I’m busy on Friday night so will have to watch on catch-up. However let us know what you think! It surely has to be a bit more engaging than I Survived A Zombie Apocalypse.

10 thoughts on “District Z

  1. Mathew Palmieri

    I certainly enjoyed project z for what it was. (especially the second series, where it felt like one entire program instead of segmented for Saturday morning. The news bulletins in series 1 made no sense… who’s watching them when there was a zombie apocalypse?) the only real problem to me was the lackluster endgame of “1 minute mastermind against the clock”, and the fact that the never REALLY meet the host in person (both Alice and Zane). I really do hope they a get third series next year, with a bit more story elements to fill it out.

    This feels like that crossed with the more challenge based fort Boyard. I wonder how the “infection” mechanics work. Project z had it so that if you were touched once, you were zombiefied and eliminated ONLY once the team rang the school alarm bell and transformed into endgame. otherwise, you were fine regardless, you got to do all of the puzzles even if you got touched(which I feel lowers the stakes a little bit. Still!) This I feel has player elimination during regular gameplay, so I’m wondering how it all works.
    I enjoy adventure games like these.

  2. Mathew Palmieri

    Well, that was enjoyably disappointing.
    The format, if your wondering:
    5 French celebrities venture into the compound of “district Z” to get into “professor Z’s” vault, which contains 30 safes, for which some are empty, while other’s have been randomly stored with a random amount of gold bars; in total, there are 100 gold bars to collect at a maximum. (each one being worth 1000 euro’s. ).
    -At the gate to the “District”, they are greeted by the show’s host, Denis Brogniart (who show’s up at the various challenges) who gives them each a “life” (basically a small hexagon on their backpacks which they must protect at all cost’s), and then task’s them first with going to the bunker underneath the professor’s mansion, which will serve as their HQ and safe place from the zombies.
    -At the bunker, they also meet the professor’s servant and receptionist, who will dictate where they will go for each challenge and randomly decide who will under take them.
    -Their are three “rounds”, so to speak: First consisting of one or two “main challenge” that requires some of the team to venture out of the bunker and play for key’s to open up a safe while being at risk of a zombie taking their life, while ending upon a “cinema duel” where 2 of them will play against a famous movie monster in something resembling a council duel from fort boyard.
    -If they win a main challenge, then they win some key’s to open a safe. one key in round one, two in round two, and 4 in round 3. there is 1 main challenge in R1, 2 in R2 and R3.
    -while doing a main challenge, they will be harrased by zombies looking to rip the “life” out of their backpacks. if that happen’s, they are removed from the challenge and 10 seconds will be removed from their time in the vault( from a max of two munities. ). they are given a new “life” by the receptionist when they return to the bunker.
    -In the cinema duels, if they win, then a number of “empty” safes is guaranteed to be opened and removed from play, making sure they are more likely to open a safe with gold bars in the endgame. if they lose, then a number of random safes are opened, and if a safe with gold bars is opened and removed out of play, those gold bars will be removed entirely and lost forever.
    -after 3 rounds, they trade back in their lives, and then the endgame is then played by then using a BATTERING RAM to break into the vault in the bunker and then use the keys they’ve won to open a safe, with one key = one safe they can open, collect any gold bars they find, and leave the vault within the time limit. when theirs 20 seconds left zombies come to harass them. and once they go back to the gate, the gold bars are counted and that’s it.
    Honestly? its a bit disappointing, considering this is just fort boyard with a zombie coat of paint. oh well. my main problem with it is the stakes are surprisingly low. the biggest penalty having a “life” being taken by a zombie is that you are taken out of the challenge and you lose vault time. that’s it! otherwise, its just a weird version of boyard with a tone that is a bit too camp. no lock ins? TBH. Project Z is better, and that is just 30 munities! Still, it is enjoyable for what it is. the best thing about it is the receptionist: he’s entertainingly cuckoo with that performance. the challenges are alight: Nothing that wouldn’t be out of place as a phase two game in FB. is it worthy of a second season? maybe, if they up the penalty for getting a life taken from you from the zombies.

  3. Brig Bother Post author

    I noticed it shared a few of Fort Boyard’s production staff, but of all the things it could have stolen, it probably ought to have stolen Fort Boyard’s Getting On With It mantra, it took about fifteen minutes to get to the first challenge, and there are only nine + the Strong Room in two hours.

    I thought the challenges were enjoyably big scale, although the zombie thing just slowed the challenges down in the main (and they’re already ten minutes long) – the challenges that were mainly “search for things whilst avoiding the zombies” were the weakest and as suggested the punishment for getting your badge grabbed doesn’t feel high enough – sure, a ten second penalty in the Strong Room, but the clock seemed basically irrelevant in the Strong Room anyway – there seemed ample time to grab the gold in the limit allowed and the zombies just seemed to try pouring through the safe door about halfway through anyway – there’s no obvious thing that seems to happen when the time runs out.

    This is a shame because the idea for the end game isn’t a weak one but it feels like an idea for an endgame for The Bank Job rather than a zombie themed adventure show.

    I will say that as hilarious as the Cinema challenges being a clear Council rip-off were, two of the three of them were legitimately quite clever – the fruit ninja one (four fruits and veg selected, take an axe so it’s split as evenly as possible, place halves on two trays, if the trays are within 100g of each other you win – you could adapt this for the Council by having one cut and one pick and the heavier tray winning) and the four-in-a-row-by-shifting-cubes, even if it was played in pretty much the worst fashion this episode.

  4. Jason

    Watched this tonight, and largely echoing the thoughts above:
    * The hilariously bad performance of ~~noughts and crosses~~ puissance cubes in the ~~council chamber~~ cinema.
    * Some of the challenges felt very arbitrary, where it feels like success or failure had less to do with the game and more to do with the will of the producer.
    * The end game doesn’t quite work – for a team with average luck 1:40 feels more than ample to get in and get out, which means the lost badges don’t really mean much. I would prefer they give them say +30s and then the clock starts as soon as the battering ram has lowered, that way there’s a little bit more risk-reward to it. I would also consider harsher penalties for subsequent losses, e.g. 10-15-20 or 10-20-30 depending on your tastes.
    * Guillaume Geoffroy (Le Majordome / The Butler) did a great job, I wish we’d have seen more of Professor Z though.
    * The pace is far too slow, this could be a 75m or 90m show and nothing of significance would be lost in my opinion.

    An interesting battle in the ratings according to Le Figaro as 5.358m (26.1%) watched the first episode on TF1 – only for France 2 to have the last laugh as 5.427m (21.9%) watched Cesar Wagner instead [2105-2345 v 2110-2240ish, hence the disparity in shares]. Impressive opening numbers all the same, be interesting to see how many of those viewers return for episode 2.

  5. Brig Bother Post author

    A lot of noise about Banijay threatening to sue Satisfaction over this, to be honest (and I’m not a lawyer, obviously), I don’t think there’s much of a case here and they’re just flexing muscles – task-and-time-limit not invented by Fort Boyard and is genre trope by now, ditto fear based stuff, and certainly there’s enough difference in ruleset for there to be clear water.

    Apparently down to 3.1m anyway, which is what FB gets in the Summer.

  6. Jason

    So the fifth and final episode of this aired on January 8th, and despite needing all five episodes for the viewership to stabilise (Ep 1: 5.358m, Ep 2: 3.650m, Ep 3: 3.140m, Ep 4: 2.720m, Ep 5: 2.850m) – it has been confirmed for a second season.

    Having caught up on the final episodes, I want to add a few more thoughts from our earlier discussions:
    * Puissance Cubes – the exact same four-move mistake played out again in Episode 4, which made for painful viewing.
    * I still think the lost badges mechanism needs work, but we saw the starkness of it during Cargo de Nuit in Episode 5. The zombie managed to snatch the badge with under 10 seconds remaining and nullify the final (winning) number from the equation – so instead of being awarded 2 keys, they lost 10 seconds and revealed twenty (10 in both!) gold bars.
    * Unfortunately, we do have an injured player in one of the episodes – an interesting touch that they carried her out of the compound in a wheelbarrow!

    * I feel that Denis is doing too much – as the host, the explainer, the in-game guide and commentary (in some cases, spoon-feeding advice) – and this is adding to the “getting on with it” problems discussed previously. Some of it could be cut, some of it could be done by other characters and let Denis focus on being the host.
    * As well as mentioning Guillaume Geoffroy previously (who continued to shine), should also give a nod to Brian Messina and Marie-Sasha Kaminsky as the lead zombies – their interactions during the games and the silly interludes between games (which include the scene from titanic and a marriage proposal which ends in the wedding ring being eaten) add a comedy touch to what would otherwise be an understandably dark and drab style.

    We will see what the second season has in store…

  7. David Wilson

    I’m trying to figure out how they distributed the bars- since they can’t earn more than 14 keys, it figures at the 100 bars should be in no more than 14 safes…though even if they have the full 2 minutes it doesn’t seem like opening more than 10 is feasible unless they open them in some sort of sequence (in ep 4 they had 1:50 and 12 keys but only got 9 safes opened, and I don’t think being 1 person down due to injury made a difference)

    1. Jason

      They declare that 10 of the safes are empty.

      At the end of each phase, for the corresponding row:
      * If the cinema is won, three empty safes are revealed (and coloured white)
      * For each challenge lost, the corresponding number of keys must be revealed (and coloured red)
      … so potentially 5 revealed in round one, 7 revealed in round two and 11 (!) revealed in round three.

      For example: Episode 3 revealed 3+1 in row 1, 3+2 in row 2 and 3+4 in row 3 – leaving 7 keys for 14 remaining safes (1 empty).

      I would say the maximum theoretical win is around 80 bars – which is assuming perfect pace for the unlocks (it looks like each safe takes around 8 seconds to open, x 14 means 1:52), perfect selection from the remaining 21 safes and being able to carry that many bars out (teams already seemed to be struggling with 30, so that would be a big ask).

      1. David

        That’s a good point- we don’t know how heavy the bars are (2 or 3 kilos each maybe?)


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