Features & News

Hands On: All Zombies Must Die!

October 27, 2011, Author: Diogo Miguel

We all know how popular zombies are these days. It’s impossible to go to a shop that stocks video-games without finding at least one that has zombies in it.

While you won’t find the latest game from Doublesix on shop shelves, it does have zombies and, I might add, is looking rather promising.

The premise of All Zombies Must Die! which is a spiritual successor to Burn Zombie Burn, is that another zombie infestation has overrun the small town of Deadhill (it certainly shouldn’t be a surprise that the town is full of zombies with a name like that). It’s up to players to take the few survivors left to safety and deal with a few zombies along the way.

To start off, players choose a character with whom they’ll play through the story campaign. There’s a few characters to pick from and each has distinctive abilities. I went with the soldier during the session, which meant that I had a rifle but couldn’t carry other weapons. It’s also worth mentioning that characters behaved differently when approached by the soldier. Other characters, such as Rachel, have different skills, like being able to reload weapons faster.

It’s an interesting approach as it means that it is necessary to play the game with each character in a different style, rewarding different playthroughs. Character statistics can also be levelled up at the end of a stage thanks to XP earned by defeating zombies. It’s also possible to earn further XP by going back to completed levels, and revisiting levels is an important aspect of the game, as obviously; the more you’re levelled up the easier you’ll find the later levels.

Reviving others is part of the experience.

The game starts in the town hall square of Deadhill, where the various paths lead to different sections of the game. It wouldn’t be much fun if all sections could be explored from the start, so to progress, players must fulfil the demands of robots that guard the paths.

The level that I played took place in the suburbian area of town. There was destruction everywhere, with vehicles on fire in the middle of the streets. It would have been easy to get lost with so many paths, but the excellently-used waypoint made it impossible to know where I was headed. The waypoint consists of a discrete circle around the character that features an arrow shape that will casually point you towards the goal. It’s also possible to pick up items that will aid the player along the way; such as health restoring cheeseburgers or brains that make characters invisible for a short period.

Because of the nature of the game, it is also possible to set up safe havens in certain parts of town. One of the safe havens that I entered made it possible to change weapons and create new ones. There are other uses for the safe houses, such as interacting with characters that will give hints. Now, I alluded to it above, but crafting weapons is one of the best aspects of the game. There are a lot of weapons to craft but each will unlock at certain points.

For example, it was possible to craft a torch that could set zombies on fire. To do this, it was necessary to gather the parts first. This consisted of a mini-mission of setting zombies on fire by luring them near fire points, such as burning vehicles. Don’t worry if this sounds complicated, though, as instructions were given by one of the other characters. It’s a good way to make sure that new weapons aren’t easily acquired, so it feels like a reward, after all the hard work gathering the items to craft them.

Zombies give you burgers.

The game’s design makes it possible to play it on your own or as a local cooperative experience. In single-player, dying will mean going back to the beginning of the level, where as in multiplayer, dying isn’t the end as another player can revive you when downed. Of course, levelling up will make it easier to play on single-player over time.

The multi-player is the better experience, though, as both players can work together to try to overcome the many zombies awaiting to supple on your brains. At the end of a level each player is given awards, such as one for the player that killed the most zombies. It won’t count towards anything, but it is still a nice touch and should encourage friendly competition.

Zombies are great and it’s always fun to hang out with them, but they have a few extreme makeovers throughout Zombies Must Die! As mentioned before, zombies can be set on fire, what wasn’t mentioned is that it makes them extremely fast and harder to avoid. Zombies on fire will deal a fair amount of damage and must be avoided at all costs.

Other transformations happen when in contact with other substances. Some substances, like radiation gas, will radically transform zombies into new forms. In the case of the radiation gas in particular, it will turn the zombie into a giant and will start chasing after the characters. This is a fantastic idea as it’s possible to see new these monsters being created in real-time. There will obviously be new variations of zombies further into the game.

It’s easy to see just how creative Doublesix is from the time spent playing All Zombies Must Die! The game is full of small details that should set it apart from similar zombie games and twin stick shooters. In fact it’s a shame that it is not possible to play cooperatively online, but it still works like a charm in local play. This is definitely one game that zombie fans shouldn’t miss.

All Zombies Must Die should be hitting the PSN ‘soon’.