by Blackened Beans
reviewed on PSP
Undead Knights is a game about zombies, but not the kind we are used to seeing. You aren't blasting zombies with shotguns or playing cooperatively with other “survivors”, Left 4 Dead style. Instead, you are running around as a distinctly Japanese knight, slashing identical looking soldiers and turning them into zombies to fight by your side.
You start by choosing one of the three available characters: buff and demonic knight Romulus, long-haired pretty boy Remus or scythe-wielding Sylvia. Each character feels somewhat different, but there isn’t so much difference that you would want to switch between them from time to time. Most likely you will stick with whomever you choose in the first level and proceed to customize them with additional attacks and bonuses. Each character is upgraded separately using points and a menu screen that lets you give them new combos, additional health and special one-time perks such as the ability to start a level with 100% more health. These lower your level grade by one, but since higher grades don't really earn you anything and the upgrades are so cheap, there is practically no penalty.
Sylvia holds a scythe which is fairly fast and can cut horizontal for maximum damage, while Remus wields two small blades and Romulus carries a large and powerful buster sword. I found myself playing as Romulus almost all the time as he is the least annoying of the three characters, but also because his weapon feels the most satisfying. It really doesn't matter who you choose, though, so if you would rather play as Sylvia you are not going to encounter any difficulties that you wouldn't experience as someone else. This is good in that you won't have to worry about choosing the weakest of the characters. But it also means you have no incentive to ever switch characters, and therefore, you will never need to upgrade more than one character.
No matter which character you choose, you have the very important ability to turn people into zombies and then control them. It is easy enough to do; just run up to a knight, whack at him until he turns red and then grab him with the circle button to turn him into one of your minions. You can then hold the R button to sweep and give commands to your zombies, such as attacking specific enemies or busting down a barrier. It is like a much more serious and darker version of Overlord, and it works fairly well with the PSP's control scheme. When playing Undead Knights though I mostly just found myself disappointed that Overlord hasn't tried its hand at the PSP yet.
The game's combat consists for about 95% of whacking people, which becomes very boring after some time. You will have to dodge, use your zombies and special attacks while fighting, but for the most part you are just masking on the square button and turning knights into zombies with a quick press of the circle button. The combat wouldn't be nearly as annoying if not for the enemies that respawn endlessly out of nowhere. You never get a break from the constant flow of foes, even in puzzle sections.
The gameplay pretty much revolves around heading into a room, killing enough knights to solve a “puzzle” with your zombies, and then heading into the next room. It doesn't help that the level design is mind-numbingly bad. They often feel like they were made by amateurs using a free level-designing program online, and in many cases they reminded me of the illogical and poorly designed buildings I created with Lego's when I was a kid.
Controls work pretty well, with responsive attacks, nice hit detection and decent battle controls overall.
Boring combat and bad graphics.