Zombi: review

  • Format: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Straight Right/Ubisoft
  • Players: 1
  • Site: https://www.ubisoft.com/en-GB/game/zombi/
  • Game code provided by Publisher

Zombi is a diamond in the rough – a diamond that has been smashed to pieces and stuck together with super glue. That is to say Zombi is something great that’s been broken and put back together. A port sans multiplayer, with a few tweaks that we would argue take away from the experience that ZombiU on the Wii U had that made it that little bit more special, if not clunkier and by extension a better survival horror. If you want our opinion of the game the review of the Wii U version is still incredibly relevant, as this’ll be more focused on what the differences are and whether it’s for the better or worse.

If you’re a horror fan then you’ll likely find some great things here; you’ll likely also weep at the monumental wasted opportunity that both Zombi and ZombiU are. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Zombi comes with a few differences: no multiplayer, no Wii U gamepad and therefore certain aspects have substitutes that make it inferior from a horror perspective but better from a usability perspective, and other minor additions. Take it or leave it the multiplayer in ZombiU was interesting at the very least, and would still have been serviceable for the port – but at least it means a cheaper price.

No Wii U gamepad means some things don’t make sense. The pad you use to scan things? Why is it still used and more importantly why is it far easier to use without as many drawbacks as on Wii U? In ZombiU you had to search around with the scanner and hold down a “button” on the touch screen; in Zombi everything starts auto scanning as you hover over it meaning you can quickly use it to highlight everything of importance in a room with ease, or even highlight zombies for your map, which is now on-screen all the time making it easy to see where the zombies are.

The map being on screen is a huge disappointment and really breaks that sense of being trapped in a world where you’re trying to survive. Flicking your eyes to the bottom right of your screen has all of the utility and none of the tension that diverting your eyes down into your lap does (presuming you hold your controller normally). It’s just another change that takes the game slightly further away from the horror  the Wii U version earned.

The Wii U version is slower and more cumbersome, which means that beating “the Infected” to death is more difficult as they can overwhelm you more easily, as well as better capitalise on your mistakes. Again this makes it more of a survival horror than its recent counterpart, which feels a little more action horror as it is faster paced – even if it’s not by much. This stretches to all aspects of your character. You seem to move faster, attack faster and perhaps even get to ping the map faster in the early game.

An addition that’s fairly minor is the choice of two new melee weapons; the spiked baseball bat and the shovel. Both offer outright bonuses to killing zombies, with the bat doing more damage and the shovel having longer reach and being able to hit multiple things (presumably rats and birds too) at once. Though they do require an inventory slot to themselves, which means that you’ll end up having your cricket bat with you unnecessarily at all times; it should also be allocated a quickslot, as the swap to melee button cycles all melee weapons meaning you may end up with the wrong weapon (always the cricket bat) for the situation.

Considering the higher power that is generally expected from PC, PS4 and Xbox One, it hasn’t made much of a difference other than shorter load times and a little bit of a graphical boost. Bodies disappear too readily when they’re in higher numbers, along with any crossbow bolts embedded in them, which is completely ridiculous and unfair for a sufficiently limited resource that’s supposed to be reusable.

Thinking about it as a horror game it fails in so many regards; it lacks the confidence to make any situation feel like you should run – with perhaps only three moments in the game as exceptions, one being the tutorial. Every situation (barring those three) can be handled by killing the horde and horde is an exaggeration of staggering proportion. It’s so unlikely that you’ll face more than four Zombies at any one time that when you do you’ll likely still have a Molotov, flare, grenade or something specific in the environment to help you out.

Those are – as far as we are aware – most of if not all of the important changes. It’s also still a little buggy in one way or another, physics being the main complaint. Funny as it may be to knock a Zombie up into the air with a swing of your bat, doing finishing moves on them whilst they’re on the floor and rocketing their remains behind you can disorientate or scare you to death if it’s during a crowded fight and you’re unable to parse what’s just happened.

It’s easy to point out the flaws of Zombi because there are so many; it’s also because there’s so much to love about it that these flaws are so exacerbated. If you love horror it’s a must play, if only to see what potential there is. It really does need a fully-fledged sequel because it could easily be improved on a great idea that is basically Zombie survival metroidvania. If you really, really want the jankier, more horror-inducing game then pick up ZombiU; but if you lack a Wii U or want a little (emphasis on little) horror with smoother controls then Zombi may just be a good scratch for that horror itch.

critical score 7

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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