Bloody Zombies is an old school arcade-style brawler set in London during a zombie apocalypse. You are tasked with bringing an end to said apocalypse by fighting back against the hordes at the command of the government. It’s a plot you’re bound to have seen before dozens of times over, but them so are the character archetypes: we’ve got our sharp-tongued female character (the only girl out of four possible character choices), a sassy African-American man, and so on and so forth.
The game tasks you with working your way across London, gathering up access key cards dropped by super scientists, and activating some experiment they were working on in order to stop the apocalypse. To do so, you’ll fight zombies, avoid traps,
The characters are fully voice acted and properly British to boot, which is a nice touch, and they’ll argue amongst themselves as the story progresses. The game is presented in a grungy cartoon style, but that doesn’t do much to detract from how horrifying and disgusting these creatures are. Bloody Zombies earns its M rating with blood splatters and gory death animations. The music is also very grungy; the violent sort of guitar riffs you’d expect to commit violent acts to.
Combat, which is 98% of this game is stiff and while the blood and gore are pretty satisfying, there’s one core element that ultimately makes it hit or miss in terms of enjoyment. Bloody Zombies’ “Free-Form Combat” allows you to move left and right, but also forwards and backwards in the world, which means enemies can to. Seeing as this game lacks defined lanes like, say, Little Big Planet does, it’s often difficult to tell which plane a zombie is on in relation to your character. As such, I found myself striking empty air a lot of the time while trying to position my character correctly and have had combos broken as a result.
Skills are executed through a combination of left or right and the corresponding button the skill is associated with based on colour. I found it difficult and frustrating to remember which combo was which–thankfully, you can change to a simplified control scheme where you can just press the corresponding button without having to press back and forth/ up and down on your D-pad. You have the ability to dodge, but that is also very stilted and it never feels as though the single roll moves you far enough out of harm’s way.
The other 2% of the game is spent sniffing out hidden areas, where you can often find loot boxes. Items that can be found and also looted from zombie carcasses include bonus score, weapons with very limited durability, money, and health/energy.
There are a handful of different zombie types, all with their own unique look and attack type. Some shoot spikes, some wield weapons, some explode upon being slain, and still others projectile vomit onto you. The variety will keep you on your toes, but it will also serve to frustrate some as it’s difficult to tell how best to counter a certain zombie type right away, meaning that it may or may not be several lives later that you crack that code. It also doesn’t help that zombies have ranged attacks and weapons that don’t break after three hits while your crew does not, putting you not only at a manpower disadvantage, but a firepower one as well.
Playing on my own was an exercise in frustration with the flaws I mentioned earlier, but being able to duke it out in Co-op almost makes up for it. Almost. You and up to three friends can play online or locally and matchmaking is a simple matter of creating a room or joining one. Any progress your team makes past the point you yourself have gotten to in single-player won’t be saved, but your character data will be, which is a nice touch. After you’ve successfully complete a section, you’re scored based on the total damage you took/inflicted, items you picked up, and how much damage you did to the hulking boss zombie.
Secret areas are rewarding to find.
Online and couch co-op modes available.
Different control styles available for those having difficulty using skills.
Combat is stiff and skills are difficult to execute.
Gameplay is repetitive.
Enemies are cheap. You have absolutely no range, and they take advantage of that.
If you’ve got a friend to join you, Bloody Zombies might be worth a look. If you’re looking for fluid movement and combat, however, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The presentation is good, but controls leave something to be desired.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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