– Karly Taylor
Due to the look I was given when I first enthusiastically presented the title idea of this article to my partner, I should probably explain it, so everybody reading can acknowledge my profound humour. Zombi, newly released on the Playstation 4, PC and Xbox One, was originally a Wii U launch game, titled ZombiU, for obvious reasons. It received mixed reception for the Wii U, so the devs at Ubisoft presumably re-released it on other consoles in order to get some of that cash back instead of further mourning their cancelled sequel for the game.
In Zombi, you are given control over multiple apocalypse survivors that you change between upon your current character’s death (in standard mode, at least – the survivor difficulty has adopted the beloved perma-death system where one death means game over) in zombie-infested London. The game takes a leaf out of Dark Souls‘ book in that, should you happen to meet your demise at the salivating, gaping maw of some undead bastard who looks suspiciously like a dude you went to school with, your new character is given the opportunity to retrieve your equipment from your dead character’s corpse – unless, of course, you die before you get there, in which case, much like many of my souls and blood echoes in the past, it is lost forever (RIP).
It feels like a bit like a cheap knock off Left for Dead, though arguably it’s part of Zombi‘s charm – minus Left for Dead’s humour. One thing that annoys me about most ported games is when it’s obvious the game is ported. The graphics, if you’re a snob about those things, don’t hold up well at all on a Playstation 4 in comparison to other horror games available.
Another thing lacking in Zombi is any actual scares. The game boasts being a survival horror game – years of playing that genre leaves me feeling like there should be a degree of dread in playing. Not because you dislike the game, but because you get an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach when you play, maybe your palms sweat a little or an urge to turn the light on intensifies in certain areas.
Atmosphere is key and it’s part of what makes the genre so special. Zombi fails to build much in the way of ambiance, and beyond the survivor mode, you aren’t exactly afraid to play. You’re given numerous weapons and upgrades to defeat your undead nemesis. And once you’ve acquired a certain upgrade for your radar, it constantly alerts you to any zombie that may be in the area, effectively ruining any chance for tension to build. In fact, the scariest thing to happen to me in this game was the sporadic and abrupt narration of “The Prepper”, droning at you from your controller. Old Man Guardian Angel was more irritating than helpful, most of the time. Alix Wilton Regan and her liquid honey voice is always a welcome addition to any game, on the other hand, especially as a narrator.
Another gripe would be the actual gameplay. The combat is clunky and a little awkward, and the inventory overall was a bit of a mess. At times, the map was difficult to navigate, and you couldn’t get into certain areas unless you had particular items picked up throughout the story, but the desire to backtrack through these bleak, boring streets for a can of coke and some planks of wood was entirely absent. Maybe something I would do in real life if I was drunk enough (apocalypse notwithstanding) but in a video game, where I could literally be doing anything else? Nope.
Despite all this, it was still an entertaining game. The first few hours of getting your bearings and acquiring your weapons of zombie brain destruction with the first survivor was all very good fun. However, after my first survivor committed suicide via explosive Molotov cocktail and my second survivor glitched through an elevator and died in gaming glitch limbo, taking with her my loaded crossbow and upgraded weapons with no possible way of getting them back, the desire to keep playing ceased completely.
The more I played, the more apparent it became that the story was headed in a very standard, cliche direction. Since I never actually finished the game, however, take that with a grain of salt. For all I know, Zombi has a twist to end all twists at the end – part of me doubts that a little, however. If you’re after a cheap zombie game to tide you over for a few days, and none of the stuff I mentioned bothers you, then happy brain bashing! I would recommend survivor mode though, if you want to wring any actual tension out of the game – just beware the glitchy elevator shafts of death… It’s an epidemic out there!
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