Retro graphics meets zombies. It’s an idea that’s been done before, a lot. So when I looked at Zombie Party for review I was immediately looking for something that made this game stand out among the rest, and it definitely delivered.
Zombie Party is a frantic top down shooter that features RPG elements, procedural dungeons and local and online multiplayer. The developer, a one man team, put Zombie Party onto Steam Early Access in order to receive feedback as he progressed with the development of the game. The game state is currently in “Early Access Alpha Stage” and it states this on-screen in massive letters in between loading screens so there’s really no way you can miss it. For a game in such early stages I expected a slight amount of content coupled with a myriad of issues, but during my time with Zombie Party I was relieved to find a stable and perfectly playable game, packed with things to do.
The game is split into four modes, all of which can be played alone, in couch co-op, or online co-op. In Adventure mode you tackle waves of enemies picking up gold, weapons, ammo, magic runes, and upgrades along the way. In between waves you can access the shop to purchase upgrades to your weapons or more ammo and such. The waves end in a tough boss battle and then you warp to the next arena. This game mode is the most immediately enjoyable as it gives a real sense of progression as well as a tough challenge, and with the added incentive of location changes featuring a slew of new enemies I found myself consistently retrying not in order to get the high score but to see as many levels and enemy types as I could. After you eventually die you take all the gold you managed to grab and use it to buff your character, leveling up your damage, health, speed etc to make your next attempt more manageable so you can progress further. You can also use the gold to grab costumes and hats for your characters which of course is much more important.
Dungeon mode is where the “procedurally generated dungeons” come into play. You blast your way through foresty looking enemies, smashing loot chests until you go down a staircase to a newly generated level, the concept is cool and I enjoyed the destructible environment which held secret chests but felt that it all got stale quickly and found myself playing this mode the least out of the four.
Arcade is where you test your zombie blasting skills in a bid to reach a total of 10,000 Zombie kills in 5 minutes. This is a great mode for multiplayer and as you progress through the game you unlock more maps to use for this mode, giving a great incentive to play the other game modes more.
Deathmatch, albeit a fun idea was simply too much to handle for me, playing a four player match the screen was simply so full of lasers and explosions that I could not see my character half the time, and I’d often be looking for myself only to find I had died, already re spawned and was in the process of being shot again. Maybe with less players this would be more tolerable but for me I stuck to the other game modes.
The inclusion of local and online co-op into every mode is a commendable choice and having a friend to play with makes the game much more enjoyable. Though an issue I found with the game is unfortunately one that disrupts the co-op experience. When one player dies, the camera seems to freak out, potentially in mourning the loss of a zombie party goer but none the less it tends to result in the remaining character(s) dying due to a mental camera that locks onto the dead players corpse unwilling to let go. My other gripe with the game is more on a personal level, why no WEAPON WHEEL?! It seems to me that this game is dying for a weapon wheel option as you get a myriad of weapons and scrolling past ten plus weapons in order to grab the trusty flame thrower that would be really useful at that moment usually causes the moment to slip by. This can be rectified in some part by adjusting a setting in the options menu that gives an Unreal Tournament-esque auto weapon select in that it equips your most powerful weapon at any given time, the problem with this is it removes a huge element of the gameplay by giving you less choice on the battlefield and so the game becomes much simpler and thus less enjoyable.
Throughout all the game modes that Zombie Party offers the core concept remains the same: shoot things with OP weapons and survive as long as possible. For the most part the game manages to pull this off almost without a hitch, and although there are a couple things I noticed that marred my overall experience, the game is, (as it repeatedly states) in its “Early Access Alpha Stage” and so there’s plenty of room for improvement before the final release.
For more on zombie party click here for the Steam page