Move aside, Sean of the Dead; you had a good run, but there’s a new way the British are dealing with zombies. The latest title from indie team Paw Print Games and nDreams: Bloody Zombies – the most British name for a zombie game ever (and the catchphrase I think I’ll have in the impending apocalypse). It leads a team of four survivors who have agreed to a fragile alliance through the streets of London as they massacre hordes of the undead in an attempt to save the day! More important than the story though, is the gameplay, and this scrolling beat’em up inspired by the likes of Streets of Rage – so you should have some inkling of what’s in store already. Publishers nDreams invited us to take a quick look at an early build of their latest title and see what’s what.
Right, so it’s a revamped beat’em up title for current gen? Not quite; Bloody Zombies does bring back all the features that made the classics so good, including couch or online co-op, but what sets the game apart is its use of VR. The game has followed the Resident Evil 7 path in creating a game that allows players to play either with VR or without it. I was given the opportunity to play the game in VR, and in all honesty, it doesn’t make a huge difference. It makes up for this in other ways, though, the biggest being that the VR player can leave the rest of the party and go exploring alone, and can spot hidden areas and incoming obstacles or enemies far easier. So, whilst the VR aspect seems a little superficial, it’s an inclusion that adds something extra to a fun multiplayer experience.
The way that Bloody Zombies attempts to revamp its genre doesn’t stop at the use of hardware. The way combat is developed makes it easy to jump into for new players. You’ll be killing zombies with flying kicks, uppercuts, and a host of weapons – my favourite being a samurai sword. The combat is layered and with practice, players can pull off a string of combos, but even at the start, you’ll be given enough variety in attacks to keep you busy and the zombie killing fun. It’s very much a game that’s easy to learn but difficult to master; I only played it for an hour or so, but within that time I was able to look pretty good at the game, even though I really wasn’t.
The combat itself is freeform, so you’ll customise your fighter’s style to reflect your own needs; with this in mind, it’s a nice feature included by the developers to inject variety into a genre that certainly needs it.
Given that there are four characters to choose from, you might end up in a situation where you’re stuck as a character that your friend has customised in a way that just doesn’t gel with. This was something the developers were aware of and have worked to introduce a system that allows you to transfer the moves of characters around, so you’ll be able to enjoy a fighting style that you know how to use with any character that you choose.
The game’s design is similar to an Adult Swim cartoon style, with childlike character models that wouldn’t look out of place in Action Force. However, the design of the environment is what stuck with me after my playthrough. We’ve seen London destroyed too many times to count in both film and video game, but the cartoon re-imagining of a post-apocalyptic London in flames as our group roamed through a London Bridge littered with barricades and corpses was a surprisingly satisfying way of designing the game.
We were only given an hour with the game, but for an early build, Bloody Zombies offers a pretty fun experience. Though at the moment, my concern is that players will have a brief affair with the title after such a long time since a decent scrolling beat’em up has come along. The VR aspect adds a new way to play the classic genre and will hopefully work to give the title more prominence when its release arrives. Overall, what I played of Bloody Zombies was a familiar game style with a modern twist.