If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and enjoyed gaming, then you more than likely played a side-scroller brawler. Games like Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, or TMNT: Turtles in Time are standouts in the genre, and provided all sorts of local co-op fun both at home and at the arcade. Although, once more polygon’s started being added to games, this genre went into hibernation, and really didn’t come back into play until the resurgence of Indie titles on platforms like Xbox 360’s Arcade.
This Indie movement has continued to this day, and the side-scrolling brawler genre is populated once again. In fact, a new title from Paw Print Games pays homage to all of the games listed above, as well as their brawler brethren, so I’d like you to meet Bloody Zombies.
Bloody Zombies is a 4-player co-op brawler that shares many gameplay (footage embedded after the break) tropes of those titles that have come before it, which both benefits and betrays the title in the end. It’s set in the ruins of London, and you play as one of four different characters, all with unique fighting styles. You can team up locally with three other players, or online, and the game’s fun factor is definitely ratcheted up when playing with other players versus going lone wolf.
The game also supports VR if you have the PSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift. One player can use the headset, and it offers a more scaled back look at the level, which in turn allows the VR player to see around obstacles, as well as find secrets in the level, so it definitely adds a new wrinkle to the game if you have the hardware.
VR Gameplay Footage
In terms of gameplay it’s best described as strategic button mashing. You have two attack buttons, a jump button, an interact button, and the abilities to dive and throw objects. Again, if you’ve played a game like Turtle in Time, you’ll be intimately familiar with how Bloody Zombies plays. It does offer deeper combo chains than its predecessors, and you can get some insane hit juggles going on, as well as kill streaks. You can also pickup new special moves that require a special energy meter to execute. These moves are powered up and are meant to clear large groups of zombies, or to pack a solid punch on a boss.
Speaking of Bosses, Bloody Zombies features both sub and main bosses on each of its 11 levels. Each looks unique and has their own sets of attack patterns you must master to ensure success. This isn’t a game that you can just blindly beat your controller, so while you may feel like you’re mashing your buttons while playing, as I mentioned previously it’s done in a strategic manner. If you just go at it willy nilly, you will die, no questions asked.
Bloody Zombies is no pushover even on the Normal setting, but if you like punishment you can unlock a Hard and then an Insane mode after beating Normal and then Hard. These are for you masochists and achievement hunters, because on Insane you can’t even die once, so have fun with that challenge.
The biggest issue with Bloody Zombies is the pace at which the players move, especially the bulkier ones. At times it feels like you have to fight the control stick to move your character into position to attack, and getting out of hairy situations sometimes feels like you’re stuck in quicksand. I also noticed that your attacks didn’t always register even if you felt like you were facing an enemy on a level plain. The game’s static cutscenes are a little blown out looking too, so a few blocky pixels show, especially on larger HD or 4K screens. With that being said the game’s gameplay visuals are just fine and look vibrant and sharp.
If you’ve been looking for a fun return to the classic side-scrolling co-op brawler genre, then look no further than Bloody Zombies. It looks great, features local and co-op gameplay, and even supports VR. Speaking of the VR, it also looks great and offers up a whole new visual perspective that helps your teammates and can yield a few secrets. Character movement is a bit slow, and at times hit detection feels off, but for the genre this game pays homage to, I do feel it got most of its aspects correct. For $14.99 this co-op brawler experience is definitely worth the cheap price.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided a PS4 code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.