Originally released in 2012 as a WiiU launch title, ZombiU was considered an underrated gem by those who picked it up. Fast forward three years and it has now been ported to Xbox One, PS4 and PC under the name Zombi.
In its original release this was considered a game that made great use of the WiiU gamepad and the second screen functionality, yet as part of the port this is probably the most major change, with that function being removed completely.
I understand the thought process behind this, as unlike with the WiiU, the aforementioned platforms don’t have second screen as standard. So making sure it can be played without the need for a second screen makes perfect sense.
However, all three platforms have options that can allow for a second screen. The Xbox One has apps for tablets, as does the PS4, along with the Vita and the PC has the ability for using a second monitor. So it is a shame that there isn’t a way to play using second screen stuff as an option.
That being said, the way the game works is by using a similar idea that you may have seen in Bloodborne, whereby you can access inventory screens, maps, etc but the game will never pause for these, meaning you are always in danger, which adds to the tension as you progress.
It is a fairly solid compromise overall, but it is a shame I can’t utilise technology that is already out there.
Zombie games on the whole for me are becoming rather tiresome and I honestly think they have had their day for a while and a break is much needed. Yet at the same time, I really like the approach Zombi takes. At no point do you ever feel like you are going through the motions, or that you have levelled up to a point where progression feels monotonous as you just get more and more zombies coming at you.
There is always this feeling that an encounter will spell the end of your life and you honestly look to take the path that allows you to avoid zombies as much as possible. Whilst a single zombie can be taken down with comparative ease, as soon as you run into a group, battling them head on will almost certainly lead to your early demise.
You will die in this and you will die a fair amount, which brings me to a feature I really like. Zombi uses a system similar to that of a roguelike, whereby death is permanent. You do get to start again with a new character, but to gain all the resources left in a previous run, you need to find the dead character and take their stuff.
Whilst this may not seem like a new mechanic for those who have enjoyed the many indie titles on offer these days, it still feels like a fresh and interesting idea in a supposed triple-A title and for a survival horror game it allows the fear factor to be increased, especially knowing you can and will be incredibly vulnerable for the most part.
It’s not all sunshine and roses though, as some of the mission structures boil down to little more than fetch quests and whilst there is variety, the fact it relies so heavily on these means it can get a little tiresome at parts.
It is a shame, because the actual survival side is absolutely fantastic and the overall story is played out really well and there were easily times that I was completely buying in to the zombie apocalypse. The London setting works really well too, making use of known landmarks, tube stations and the general feel and look of London housing areas.
Visually little has changed from the WiiU release, but that isn’t to say the game doesn’t still look bloody impressive, because it does. However, there are a fair few framerate issues throughout your time with the game. It can often drop a lot and even for someone like me who doesn’t care if a game is 30 or 60fps, the fluctuation does become annoying.
If you played ZombiU on the WiiU, then there is very little reason to pick this up, it isn’t offering anything you haven’t done before, but for those of you that either never picked up a WiiU, or given this a go at any point, then it is well worth a go. Especially being released at a budget price of around £15, there is a lot of value here.
This is a game that could well have been a classic, but a few issues within the game structure and a port that needs cleaning up just stop it from being one.