Recently I got to sit down with Zombie Night Terror from developer NoClip, a game that previously got high praise from WOTS when we saw an early build at PAX. The game is now finished and released, and with more time to play it was quite and undead feast.
The concept of Zombie Night Terror is Lemmings-style zombie mass management without as much focus on individuals. You will often “break a few eggs”, but that’s okay because zombies are surprisingly good team players when it is for the greater evil. “Undead Lemmings” as a concept is great right off the bat, as the vast timespan since the last Lemmings game I played make the experience ripe for nostalgia. I was pleased to see as an example that early in the game you unlock several forms of zombie “suicide” that are actually strategically beneficial – and I recalled 99 Lemming levels of the past where I would nuke them all just for the satisfaction of the popcorn explosions.
Nature Finds a Way
Zombie Night Terror goes far beyond scratching old itches (and facilitating worker explosions) – it does a great job of rethinking previous tropes of “blockers” and “climbers” to make them thematically fit as zombies. Zombie jobs take the form of evolutions, which can lead to a temporary or permanent change in behavior. These mechanics get layered as the story progresses so that for example the “blocker” Overlords can also confer the ability to run fast or jump. This layering ends up creating multiple solutions to a lot of problems, which helps to keep the puzzle aspect of the game fun without oppressive difficulty. There are also challenges for each level which incentivize replay and exploring different solutions. At its core the evolution mechanic is awesome and the core of what makes the game fun. After the first few disemboweling Overlord transformations, you’ll be mutating zombies like its going out of style… and these zombies have excellent style.
That One Thing
Some sophomoric dialogue, and a decent dose of pixel art T & A seem at times a little unnecessary. In fairness, the game harkens to a B horror movie vibe which is absolutely full of the exact same thing. I think the reason it is more noticeable is that at times you repeat scenes several times while perfecting a strategy, or you might sit in place reading dialog bubbles while you wait for your slow shuffling zombies to make their way to the next point of interest. In these moments you may groan a little at female upper body pixel physics or cheesy one-liners… or you may feel like you are watching Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombie. If you eyeroll when watching the more indulgent portions of horror movies you may do the same at times in Zombie Night Terror, but if that sort of thing doesn’t seriously push your buttons the gratuitous zombie mayhem will usually put it out of your mind.
|Zombie Night Terror|
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You know all those Lemmings you killed? They’ve risen from the dead, and now they are even more awesome in Zombie Night Terror.