by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
All they want to do is eat your brains
I know what you’re thinking. “Another zombie game where you’re fighting off hordes of zombies. Maybe you will get some new abilities and power ups along the way, but I bet I’ve played it all before.” Well, you are only half right, and you are wrong about the half that matters. In Zombie Night Terror, you are the zombie horde, and it is up to you to use new zombie abilities at your disposal to infect as much of humanity as possible. It’s going to be a terrifying night indeed, but not for you.
There is a new street drug going around, but instead of getting you high and giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling, it’s turning people into zombies. Developer NoClip has taken the concept of Lemmings, and turned it on its head. Your zombies are mindless creatures, and will continue shuffling forward until they hit an obstacle, and then they will turn around and begin shuffling the other way. So, it’s up to you to either remove the obstacles, or make unwitting humans into obstacles, because zombies will sink their teeth into living flesh, given the chance. Killing humans not only gets you closer to completing most levels, it also gives you advantage, because if they die by your hand, they will be reanimated as part of your zombie horde.
Your basic zombies are only dangerous if the humans run into dead ends, though. Your shufflers aren’t exactly fast, and while they can break down certain doors, they won’t be able to get through reinforced ones. It would appear as though the human race is saved! Apart from the horrible mutations the zombie plague has, barrels can be found scattered around each level. If just one of your team of undead shuffles into a barrel, it will unlock that mutation for your entire army for the rest of the level. You select the mutation you want from the bottom of the screen, click on a zombie, and hey presto, it’s now a superpowered evil minion.
The mutating horde
There are various mutations, and they each have their own use. The Overlord is an important zombie, as he can stop the rest of your horde mindlessly walking off ledges to their death. Explosive zombies can blast through doors, and certain sections of week walls and floors. Fast zombies are, well, fast. Screamers will wake up resting zombies, and also terrify nearby humans. There are a few other variations too, and they all have their uses. Plus, you can combine the Overlord with another mutation to create an even more effective version of that mutation. You can get the Overlord to fling zombies over gaps, or cause one to explode even more powerfully than normal.
Figuring out these variations is part of the fun, and you will need to plan ahead in each level, especially as they progress. You’re able to zoom out and look all over the map to plan your route, but those sneaky humans might have some surprises in store for you along the way. As your zombies increase in power, so do the humans, ranging from thugs with bats to riot squads with assault weapons. Even leaving powered up zombies alone against weaponised humans is a recipe for disaster, so you will often have to puzzle your way through a level, and be ready to react on the fly.
Thankfully you have a degree of time control. You can pause whenever you want, and if things are looking boring, you can actually fast forward until your zombies get to where they need to be. There are 40 levels in the game, but by level 10, you will probably never need to use fast-forward again, and you will have your finger hovering over the pause button at all times. Zombie Night Terror is tough, especially when it starts to change things up on you by having guard patrols and extra reinforcements arriving at inopportune moments. It also becomes a lot about resource management, because you can’t use your mutations as much as you would like. You have a bar that depletes when you use them, and you can only refill it by either killing more humans, or sacrificing your own zombies. Sacrificing one for the greater goo-evil becomes a major part of the game.
Challenging, and fun
Aesthetically, the game’s got a retro, pixel art style which has been overused as of late, but it looks fine and it is hard to hold that against it. Your various mutations of zombies all look unique, but it can be tough to select a particular one when they are all bunched up. The humans all have distinct looks too, so you always know what you’re coming up against. Plus, while there is no voice acting, the game has a fairly good sense of humour which it conveys through speech bubbles, which you may miss entirely if you are looking elsewhere on the screen. You will find plenty of horror culture Easter eggs in there if you look hard enough.
Zombie Night Terror is challenging, and most importantly, fun. There are some frustrations with selecting the right zombie, and it becomes annoying when you have nearly completed a level only to discover you don’t have the right resources to complete it. This is usually solved by planning ahead, but sometimes there are circumstances beyond your control. Overall though, this is a good game, and a twist on a couple of genres that have sorely needed a twist. A bit like a human neck.
A good twist on the zombie genre, challenging environmental puzzles.
Can be frustrating at times, overused art style.