Zombie Party10th June, 2016
Copy provided by publisher.
Every now and then you just need a game that’s just fun. Something mindless, flashy, action packed that will let your brain fly away on a wave of mindless abandon. That game for me, now, is Zombie Party.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the indie community has been collectively shooting itself in the foot for quite a while. A horde of abysmal games have littered Steam. Some use pre-bought assets and mash them together in the hopes it just makes something, no design and little development required. Others quite simply take a pre-built game starter kit and resell it wholesale, no changes made. It’s actually useful, though. When something made with hard work, care and attention comes out, people notice it.
Zombie Party is one of these games. While it may not look like anything special at first, being a top-down pixel shooter, it really is fun and well made. Featuring four game modes. Adventure mode has you travelling from area to area, defeating waves until a boss arrives. Dungeon features procedurally generated dungeons, where you travel through and last as long as you can. Arcade pits you in a challenge to kill five-thousand zombies as quickly as possible. Deathmatch is exactly as it sounds, putting you against other characters in a fight to the death.
While this may not seem that varied, with only four game modes, what makes Zombie Party stand out is the range of unique enemies, weapons and other RPG elements. I genuinely don’t think I could give a number of the weapons, but at any one time you can have your base assault rifle, a rainbow-laser beam blaster and a grenade launcher that fires multiple grenades the size of a car in one shot. Combining this with the horde of enemies, some that march directly to you and others that fire their own projectiles. The potential of you using magic attacks on your own, part of the RPG system, turns Zombie Party into pure unadulterated chaos. It’s just organized chaos.
The aforementioned RPG system lets you level up your character, one of thirty-four, during any given game. As well as this you have a range of item drops, from artifacts that allow you to cast magical spells, to weapons like grenades. Even melee weapons along the lines of swords and baseball bats are dropped, though how useful they are is up for debate. Of course potions with a range of uses, like increasing shot speed, your size, run speed and more are introduced, with basic potions for regaining health and energy always useful to find.
It culminates with the use of gold, dropped and accumulated on a permanent basis from the game modes. This cold can be used to buy the extra characters, as you only start with five of them. These characters have their own base appearance, loadout of weapons and stats. These can all be changed and improved. Each character can have their starting weapons upgraded through purchasing the next level in the character select screen. Base stats can be improved to the maximum. Even pets can be brought along to the fight. Even the pets you can bring along to the fights level up over time, as they get older and kill more enemies.
All of this is fulfilled through the gold that’s dropped, as well as enemies killed. It offers a level of personalisation and customisation that you wouldn’t have expected from Zombie Party. The retro visuals, the old-school sensibilities, belie what is actually a detailed and engrossing game. There’s no doubt that it’ll take a long time to unlock everything. There’s always a risk of it getting repetitive, as with any game, but the sheer variety on offer should make that a very slim chance.
What possibly lets Zombie Party down is the perception the visuals give. That’s a great shame because for how old school it is, it’s actually a joy to behold at times. There’s always a place for retro looking games, ones that can use pixel art in a way that benefits the game, not only to simply shout “We’re retro!”. This manages it through having a cohesive style that benefits the sheer insanity of the weapons, how the explosions will send even the destructible environment flying around and just how much will be happening at any one time.
There’s only two real core issues with Zombie Party. The first comes from the UI, which is prohibitively small to say the least. Particularly when you enter the inventory, where selecting the items and putting them in your three quickslots are a challenge best left for somebody with better eyesight than me. I’ve also found it easier to play using my Xbox controller, rather than mouse & keyboard. Neither were difficult. Where the controller offered the most functionality is in swapping weapons and items, particularly weapons. The game is crying out for a weapon wheel, which I wouldn’t imagine should be difficult to implement.
The second issue is due to the simple fact that nobody is playing the game online. I’ve managed to get online once or twice just through chatting on the games Steam community boards. Other than that, you’re going to have to be very lucky to find somebody online. It’s a shame, because extra people just amplify the chaos and enjoyment that comes with.
Zombie Party really is a good game that does exactly what it wants to do, and admirably. It may not be the best looking game out there. It may not be the most tactically nuanced or varied (though it certainly tries) game out there. The one thing it is, is fun. It manages that in spades, does it cheaply, efficiently and for that alone, it’s worth checking out.
Zombie Party offers sheer mindless fun. There's utter chaos on screen and a fast paced, action packed top-down shooter, which offers multiple game modes and an extensive amount of customisation. While it's not the best looking game out there, having a few flaws, it's fun.
- Zombie Party offers a strong level of cusomisation, giving you a huge amount to choose from in weapons, items, stats and pets. The multiple game modes, while not massively different, offer some variety.
- The UI could do with a few changes and the introduction of a weapon wheel is almost vital. The lack of players for multiplayer is a huge dissapointment as well, multiplayer offering possibly the best time you can have with the game.