Zombie Night Terror is the latest iteration into the zombie genre. However instead of gunning down hordes of mindless zombies, you are the horde. This alternate perspective is refreshing and ultimately a satisfying change that makes for an overall enjoyable gameplay experience.
July 20 2016
Zombie Night Terror's satirical and humorous story takes place over 3 different campaigns. It starts off when a street drug, aptly named 'Romero' after the grandfather of the Zombie genre, turns its users into ravenous zombies. In the campaigns the player controls a varying and diverse horde of zombies as you run, jump, transform and kill your way through the game's 10+ hour run-time.
At it’s core, Zombie Night Terror is a puzzle game. The player controls certain environmental factors and must manage resources such as 'DNA', the game's currency. By spending DNA on a standard zombie, the player can choose from a small, yet mechanically diverse set of mutations. These mutations compliment the gameplay well and are often imperative for a player to tackle the sometimes immensely challenging levels in the game. The 'Overlord' for example, is a zombie that when mutated, controls the movement of other zombies. Standard zombies will indiscriminately throw themselves off of edges and into harms way through the game's many obstacles, such as armed humans and fatal plummets.
The game ultimately boils down to managing mutations and the amount of zombies you have. If you lose all of your zombies you automatically lose. Careful planning and analysis of Zombie Night Terror's very intuitive and useful pause and rewind buttons are required. These mechanics all come together into an amalgamation of clever game and level design, but can leave some players stumped on which mechanic to use. The game could use some tweaking in terms of informing the player on which paths they should take. I was left in an endless loop of dying zombies and walking in circles a few too many times.
Graphically the game takes a retro and 80's inspired style. Zombie Night Terror has pixel-graphics that are stylized perfectly and everything on screen is clear. Basically the game itself looks quite good. The graphics never hinder and you don’t need a beast of a PC to run the game smoothly; which is definitely a bonus. The game runs at a smooth frame rate, with little technical faults experienced throughout. I did however experience a few clipping and texturing issues with certain types of zombies glitching into walls and becoming stuck. Additionally, certain walls and textures within the game were not rendering properly. Whether or not this was an issue with my PC or the game itself is questionable, but it is worth noting.
Sound design in Zombie Night Terror is basic, yet very well executed. A minimal yet potent soundtrack is present here. The sound effects themselves are stellar. Zombies sound zombie-like and the terrified screams and the muffled gibberish-like dialogue of the terrified 16-bit humans add a satirical layer to the game's sound design. It could be noted that the game's soundtrack and repertoire of sound effects could do with an expansion, as the monotonous groans of your zombie horde and the piercing screams of the human NPCs loop regularly throughout each mission. The repetitious nature led me to mute the game on some of the more mentally-tasking levels in the latter, more challenging levels so I could concentrate on managing my zombies more effectively.
Zombie Night Terror is far from an easy experience. My total mission failures easily climbed into the 100's. Missions that involve the player utilizing a new type of zombie or a new mutation often have small tutorials in the form of interactive television screens that the player clicks on. The difficulty spike in certain levels can be huge, with a mission in the first campaign named 'Hard Rain' standing out to me as arguably the most challenging level I have ever completed in a puzzle game. Because of this extreme difficulty, once the player finds their groove and understands exactly what to do, the experience is undeniably exhilarating and satisfying, leaving me with a deep sense of gratification as the 'Mission Complete' screen appears on my monitor.
Once the player overcomes the somewhat harsh difficulty spike, this hardcore-puzzle zombie game with RPG and resource management elements comes together to create a simple, fun, and overall enjoyable experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a laid back challenge, and a game that tests their problem solving skills and observation skills. Zombie Night Terror has bit and clawed its way into my most played game on Steam and I don't regret a second of it.