A nation of undead
When #KILLALLZOMBIES arrived on my Nintendo Switch for review, it represented a double-edged sword for developers, BeatShapers. As an avid fan of Dead Nation that released on PS3 in 2010, the early signs had been that #KILLALLZOMBIES would be somewhat similar. With such fond memories of Dead Nation during my uni days, #KILLALLZOMBIES could have me reminiscing for all the right reasons, or reminiscing about what could have been. Which one is it? Find out in our review of #KILLALLZOMBIES on the Nintendo Switch.
A re-release of the 2016 PS4 and Steam game, #KILLALLZOMBIES is now available for digital download on the Nintendo eShop. Best summarised as a twin-stick zombie shooter, the game thrusts you into an ever-changing arena where hordes of zombies attack from all directions. At your disposal is a range of weapons, perks and environmental interactions to keep the hordes at bay.
If relentless waves of enemy hordes are not your bag, you can stop reading now. The primary reason being is that this game offers little else. Ordinarily, and I’m sure there are games out there that disprove this, a game that offers a horde/wave mode often has other gameplay experiences available too. Maybe a story mode? A puzzle or two? Mini-games?
In the distant future…
#KILLALLZOMBIES offers three game modes, all centred around wave-based gameplay. Option 1 is ‘Survival’, whereby you survive for as long as possible against increasingly more challenging enemy hordes. Number 2 is ‘Defend the Vault’, and this is much the same however you have a vault to protect in the middle of the map. Finally, no game of this nature would be complete without ‘Co-op’, and #KILLALLZOMBIES allows you and a friend to play together on the same Switch console.
The similarities between #KILLALLZOMBIES and Dead Nation stop at twin-stick and zombies, as although built upon the same foundations, the manner with which they are delivered is very different. Whilst Dead Nation was a rather linear affair across a variety of locations with a storyline attached, #KILLALLZOMBIES is played out in a hexagonal arena where objects are randomly generated and with a small accompanying brief: ‘In the distant future, #killallzombies is thrusting civilians into a sport of survival were a ravenous zombie population is unleashed in the name of sports entertainment.’
The perks of being a game developer
Both games have their merits, and for me, #KILLALLZOMBIES represents the current gaming market: roguelike and competition-based gameplay. As you progress through each wave of enemies, you are introduced to new, more powerful foes and many different objects that randomly appear. For example, an ambulance may fall from the sky and appear in your path, or a burnt-out car, or a flaming barrel. All of these items can be destroyed and subsequently used as a weapon against the hordes. Because these appear as and when, the environment can become quite a challenge to traverse.
Where BeatShapers have managed to show their more creative side is in the perks. For every zombie you obliterate, you receive points which in turn result in you levelling up. Each level that you manage to get to allows you the opportunity to choose from one of four perks that last for a limited amount of time. It can be anything from a change of gun, double damage, invincibility…the list is huge! My personal favourite was turning into the grim reaper and killing every zombie that I touched. These perks can be the difference between successfully defeating the next wave or death, and selecting wisely is key. I had a lot of fun with these perks and it was a welcome addition to the gameplay.
Serving a purpose
Of the three gameplay modes, I found the ‘Defend the Vault’ one to be the most enjoyable. The reason for this, I believe, is because it served a purpose. There was a motivator behind the gameplay that wasn’t intrinsic, and this led to a better experience for me.
I am a fan of what has been created with #KILLALLZOMBIES, and I believe the development team were on to a winner. I think the potential has not been fully realised, in part because it does not offer any story mode or a different style of gameplay. The game has as much longevity as someone is willing to motivate themself to beat their score, and this alone is not enough.
With plenty of indie titles available on the Nintendo eShop, pricing plays a massive role in determining the competition you are up against. At the time of writing, #KILLALLZOMBIES is on sale on Steam for 49p. In stark contrast, the game is £14.99 on the Nintendo eShop. I think this is the clearest indicator as to the depth of the game, and begs the question of its true value.
In short, #KILLALLZOMBIES is very good at what it does. It offers a twin-stick shooter which is intelligent in design and creative in its delivery. What it doesn’t do is offer an enriching gaming experience and its enjoyment is short-lived. For a quick gaming fix it is ideal, but not for the price.