Some old-fashioned, hex-rated fun.
Games have matured these last couple of decades. Many of them get the neurons firing, tasking players to solve complex puzzles or delving into philosophical territory and tackling social issues. But sometimes, you just need to come home from work, kick your feet up, and load up an utterly trashy, brain-dead game to relax and unwind. And #killallzombies is the perfect title for the job, subversive name and all.
The mere mention of zombies is probably enough to make you roll your eyes, but hear us out. #killallzombies was originally released on the PS4 and has since been ported to PC. Set in the future, the game sees players take on the role of a game show contestant (wearing a gaudy blue shirt) who is thrown inside an arena infested with zombies, a bit like the plot to 2007’s indie horror film Doomed. The arenas are a fairly simple grid of hexagons, which help direct the flow of movement and offer indication for incoming danger.
It’s molded from the same clay as other shooters such as Crimsonland, Nation Red, and Dead Nation. The action is viewed from an overhead isometric perspective and utilizes an FPS-like control scheme. Enemies spawn relentlessly in waves, with more and more enemies filling the screen as time goes on. Dying is inevitable, but the challenge is to see how long you can last before you succumb to fatigue or just plain bad luck. Weapons randomly spawn, which may be better or worse than your current arsenal, so you’re advised not to grab them haphazardly. Ammunition is infinite, but weapons require periodic reloads. It’s the type of extremely repetitive gameplay that will turn your brain to mush, and if you don’t have an affinity for those kinds of games, you’ll want to steer clear of this one.
Players have a leveling system, with each new level unlocking a perk. Some of these perks are useful, but others are baffling and their effects are merely a joke at the player’s expensive. Available perks are chosen at random, and often a particular selection of perks can mean the difference between an extended play session or a quick death. Still, the game requires as much skill as it does luck, striking a mostly satisfactory balance between the two.
Unlike its bretheren, #killallzombies does things slightly differently, and with a more comical tone. The weapon selection is a bit more bizarre than in, say, Nation Red, with ray guns and lava-spitting machine guns at the player’s disposal. Strange objects frequently rain down on the arena, from massive weights to panda bears to ambulances, and this can be both a detriment and an asset to the player if they adjust their play style accordingly. The aforementioned hexagons move around of their own accord, temporarily offering barriers from the horde or just changing the arena’s layout. Some of these changes can be trigger by events or perks, and likewise can be invaluable to the player’s success or result in a quick, cheap death.
When you need a change of pace, you can check out the included Vault Defense mode. Here, the game takes on a tower defense style, planting a flag in the center of the arena for players to guard. The zombies may enjoy human flesh, but apparently flag cloth is even tastier, because destroying it becomes their obsession in this mode. Killing the legions of undead will reward players with cash, which they may use to purchase better defenses and upgrades. It’s great fun, but to be honest I prefer the original mode more, if only slightly. Best of all, you can rope in a friend for co-operative play, which seriously increases the fun factor and opens the door to all sorts of crazy antics and new, shared perks.
The presentation is functional, but a bit plain and boring. The arenas are clean and well-rendered, though lacking in interesting little details. Enemies are your generic mindless zombies types with little variation, which only amplifies what is already a repetitive experience. Multiple zombie types would have gone a long way to making this title even more special, though it does redeem itself somewhat with the utterly crazy lineup of bosses, some of whom are literally out of this world and who often require special tricks to attack and avoid. Gameplay is accompanied by assorted rock tunes, but while by no means bad, it’s uninspired and entirely forgettable.
#killallzombies is unashamedly shallow, reveling in its mindlessness with tongue planted firmly in cheek. You’re not gonna walk away from the experience with any sense of self-fulfillment, but when you have an itchy trigger finger and a few minutes to kill, this should be your go-to game, especially if friends are willing to join you on the ride. When you’re ready to take on the big guns yourself, you can get the game on its Steam store page.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: PS4, PC (reviewed); Publisher: 8Floor, Beatshapers ; Developer: Beatshapers ; Players: single-player, local co-op, shared/splitscreen ; Released: 10th of August, 2016.
Full disclosure: this review is based on a code for #killallzombies given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.