Zombie Party Review
If Smash TV and Loaded had a baby, it’d be Zombie Party: a punishing pixel shooter that demands constant attention.
Top down pixel shooter Zombie Party is a throwback to the late SNES and early PlayStation era of mayhem, when blowing off steam meant blowing off the heads of countless foes. Offering multiple modes of play and surprising depth, the game — from one man developer Peach Pie — is a fun diversion for those looking for immediate action.
Zombie Party offers a few different modes of play. Adventure is a standard wave clearing mode with progressively more difficult hordes of enemies, followed by boss battles which are surprisingly tough. Different locations during adventure mode offer a solid variety of foes to take on, with suitably thematic boss types. Dungeon mode generates a procedural layout of floors to explore and conquer, although each playthrough felt a little too similar.
Arcade mode is a simple task of killing 10,000 zombies in a five minute window; sounds easy, but it’s extremely punishing and you simply won’t manage to clear it without grinding out and unlocking very powerful characters. Finally, deathmatch mode is a four player kill or be killed survival-thon, with the goal of killing the others more than they kill you, and offers AI players if you’re unwilling or unable to bring a few friends in.
Five different characters are available to choose from, with dozens more available to unlock, each with slightly different initial stats and starter weapons. Stats are mostly self explanatory — strength increases weapon damage, speed boosts movement rate, etc. — but characters typically start with very low stats.
Each kill made slowly racks up both XP and gold, with experience resetting on game-overs while gold is persistent. Levelling up during game modes allows stats to be boosted at will, which is essential for taking on the ever increasing swarms of enemies flooding the screen. Gold, however, has a number of uses. A shopkeeper appears between rounds in adventure mode, offering a huge variety of weapons, though gold is perhaps better spent outside of matches in order to unlock new characters to play as.
Zombie Party has an impressive array of insane weaponry, ranging from simple assault rifles and mortar launchers to rainbow-spewing death lasers and teddy bear launchers. Weapons can be further customised with mods, acquired from drops or the shop, resulting in a rich system of personalised weaponry. Want a minigun with exploding homing bullets? No problem.
Each mode in Zombie Party can be played with other people, and the game offers online servers which you can host or join; the game also offers split-screen local co-op. As of this review, the online portion was difficult to experience fully; connections were unstable and often failed to work at all. This is most likely a limitation of the Game Maker engine on which Zombie Party is built, and it’s unclear whether this can ever be a portion that will work fully without the developer starting from scratch with another engine.
Ultimately, Zombie Party is a solid title. If you want to sit down and annihilate legions of mindless undead for a few minutes, this is a great pick-up; those looking for more depth or cohesive online play may be better served elsewhere.