Ever since George Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, zombies have enjoyed their own little niche in the Horror pantheon. However, since early 2000, their star has been in ascendancy. Following the success of films like 28 Days Later, and the launch of The Walking Dead, the Zombie mythos has gone from strength to strength, exploding when the Walking Dead TV series aired.
Now, The Walking Dead series is on it’s 7th Season, and the comic has over 160 issues. We’ve had a slew of zombie movies, George Romero has returned to helm more of his films, and of course, a plethora of zombie games.
It seems that if someone can come up with something involving zombies, it will be marketed and sold. People everywhere are trying to cash-in in the zombie name. Gaming is no different. We’ve been treated to classics like Dead Rising, Dying Light and Left 4 Dead. The Call of Duty series even includes a co-op zombies mode that is hugely popular.
But for every classic game, there are dozens a poor cash in attempts. Which brings me to Undead Blackout.
The premise is simple, with each mission having it’s own little story. In Mission 1, You play as an Air Force Lieutenant who has to rescue her sister and escape before the zombie filled base gets bombed. In mission 2, you explore the abandoned Redfield Manor. Typical zombie stuff. Undead Blackout tries to differentiate itself from the crowd it’s dark rooms. You see, there is no lighting in Zombie Blackout. Providing a top down perspective, a torch held by your character provides the only illumination, a small 90 degree arc directly ahead.
The aim of this is to build tension. The suspense of not knowing where the zombies are coming from is supposed to build as you go through a level. But it quickly becomes frustrating. No minimap of any kind if provided, so you stumble blindly through an area, not knowing where you are going or which way you came. Doors are locked, requiring specific keys to enter, but there is no indication of where these might be. So you’re left to wander around aimlessly until you happen to come across the thing you need.
This, of course, is after you’ve figured out how to play the game. There is no tutorial, you’re just dropped into the mission. Should be easy enough to check the controls, right? Hit Esc, check the options? Nope. For some reason, the Escape key closes the game. Restart the game. Check the options, learn the controls then go into the mission. This is just an example of the poor design found throughout the game.
Graphically, Undead Blackout utilises the Unreal engine and, in my opinion, wastes it. Billed as a PC game, it plays like a mobile port. Graphics are simplistic, and the character models are basic. Even the UI is reminiscent of a Flash game rather than an Unreal built PC game. The only saving grace is the lighting effects. Enemies block the torchlight, and objects such as boxes, chairs and pillars provide shadows relating to their height.
The controls are clumsy, and require your character to be in a specific spot in order for a hit to connect. This, coupled with the limited vision, means combat usually consists of turning away from the zombie, move a little, try and line up with where you think the zombie is, and turn to face the zombie. Repeat as needed in order for the attack to connect.
Ultimately, Undead Blackout is deeply flawed, one of the many poor offerings that swamp a cultural trend. So, can we be done with zombies now? Please?
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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