If anyone has ever played the Infectonator series, then its easy to feel right at home with Zombie Night Terror. More of an arcade experience than a simulator, Zombie Night Terror expertly blends the infection mechanics of the former games, whilst also providing a strategic element that was surprisingly effective and brilliant.
The game shows off a distinct pixel art style, which needs to be witnessed in-game to truly show off the effort put into the presentation. Animations pop wonderfully on both Zombies and Humans, with exaggerated shambling for the former and a gleefully manic flailing shown off in the latter. It does a wonderful job of showing off the respective behaviours of both parties; the zombies moving so grotesquely and slow, with the humans showing panic and fear appropriately. In general, the game looks wonderfully enticing with the pixel style. Being Black and White also lends itself to the gritty aesthetic, giving off an almost grind-house feel, reminiscent of 1960’s zombie movies. The only colour found is that in gore. Any enemies that you gouge with your razor jaws or over-sized mandibles bleed profusely, as do your horde when they come into contact with armed opponents. It’s a simple touch that helps raise the element of violence to a higher level than expected.
Mechanically is where the game gets very interesting. The first level only advertises the basic mechanic of infecting a single person, then allowing it to spread on its own. This escalates extremely quickly. I’d argue that the beginning level is the only part of Zombie Night Terror that is simple, and acts as a great hook for the beginning player. After that though, is where your brain and quick-thinking skills (a pause button is there for the not so quick) come into play. Levels are intricately designed with eroding walls and weak doors, prime for an exploding zombie to take down. Overlords guide your zombies in a specific direction and can even throw them large distances; necessary mechanics as Zombies will only every walk into a straight line. Overlords are required to turn them around, which may sound basic in principle, is one of the most important parts of this game. It’s very easy for a zombie to fall down a large, gaping hole if an Overlord doesn’t turn the horde around. Theres intricate strategy to be employed into every level, as they’re never as small as they initially appear. It’s extremely easy to eat your way into a corner, forcing a restart which can feel unfair. However, given the natural difficulty of the game itself, i like to believe that ‘restarting’ is necessary to the game play loop, as a means of telling the player when they screwed up. If you don’t learn from this, then not much can be helped.
The game can have an unbalanced effect of distributing Zombie skills appropriately. When you unlock a new ability, its only relevant for that one level. The next level, you’ll have to earn it again via Green bio-tanks with the logo on it. This is a very earning process, as I’ve reset the level multiple times as i’ve realised that my Explosion skill is on the other side of the map. Sometimes you simple wont have enough of your horde to reach that side. It feels natural in design; if these skills where constantly available with no effort then the game may become too easy. On the flip side, the game feels cruelly difficult by requiring you to jump through loops to get a simple ability, that may only get you through one obstacle. Its one less obstacle to deal with of course, but this game play decision is prevalent through all the missions and it feels like the game hasn’t reached a balance between being too hard, and too easy, in the grand scheme of controlling your horde.
There is a basic story element, a lot of it infused with crude and satirical humour that i believe the majority of players will enjoy. References to modern-day culture, icons, and over-exaggeration of many stereotypes infuse an appropriate amount of humour into what can be a very gruesome game at times. It’s all here for entertainment purposes however, as the only real story element you need to pay attention to is the reporter on the TV who explains any new skills to you. Otherwise, it’s a pretty cut and dry tale of a party drug gone wrong, and the following efforts to contain the out break.
Zombie Night Terror ended up being a very enjoyable, albeit short but never too simple game. I believe it to be sitting into the bargain bin section of Steam however, as i’ve not nearly seen enough press and coverage that the game deserves. Upon playing it, i questioned myself why this was the case. It could possibly be due to its fairly common art-style (in the grand scheme of Indies, pixel games are very prevalent) or it could simply be unfortunate fate. Regardless, i was extremely happy to have been given the chance to review this little gem. Shame about my brain though, dang zombies still got to that part of me.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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