by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Bloody Zombies is not just a pun! Though the pun is delightful and made me laugh far more than I’m willing to admit. But since this takes place in the UK, “Bloody Zombies” is certainly fitting. However, a bit of a preamble: I did not play this in VR, which apparently make this the game far more interesting and worth the price of admission. But this is also up to four player online co-op. I also did not manage to find a single online match, not in the week and a half that I tried to. That was incredibly frustrating in and of itself, but the game is fun and I enjoyed playing it alone as is. Bloody Zombies is exactly what it says it is: Bloody. Zombies. Set in the United Kingdom during a zombie apocalypse, four “heroes” stand up and fight for Queen and Country. Or at least, to not die and be swarmed under by a horde of vile undead.
You know what I do like about this game though? It’s a throwback to Double Dragon II, Streets of Rage, Combatribes and all the other side-scrolling beat ‘em ups of my youth. So I was used to playing those titles solo anyway, so I made due. You have four characters to choose from: Eddie, a green-haired tattooed punk, Mick, who looks like a metal worker with an inverted pentagram necklace, Rei, a spikey-haired punk, and the very dapper Teller. But what makes this unlike some of those other beat ‘em ups, is you can unlock/purchase skills. You can equip one per color (Red, Green, Blue, Yellow) and can have modifications to them such as charge, explosive, et cetera. Some of them are also passives, and it appears that the Yellow skills fill that role. Each skill has a button combination to use it, and you can power them up if you find or purchase them again. The cost in coins goes up exponentially though, so be aware you’ll probably have to grind a bit for those.
Each character has its own weapon it uses, for one of their special attacks. It blasts enemies back and gives a far more gory kill. For example, Teller uses a Naginata (for reasons that frankly baffle me), and Rei has an electric guitar that she maims people with. Though speaking of special attacks, I’m grateful that the skills you acquire carry over across characters, as long as you’re playing on that save file. You also have another desperation special move, like in the older TMNT games. If you hit R1+L1 at the same time, you spin around and slash zombies that are surrounding you. Don’t hit it unless you’re in need though! It drains 100 points of health each time you do it! So you only want to use it in case of an emergency.
The stages are pretty straightforward and get harder as you progress. You scroll to the right and kill all the zombies that appear before moving on. Occasionally you’ll find a shop to buy skills with, or secret areas (which I imagine are easier to see in VR). They’re usually hidden in the background, with things you can jump over or climb onto. Here you’ll find coins, health and other goodies, like Skills. You’ll also come across weapons in these stages, like Katana. You can use them until they break, so lump a group of Zombies together and get those bloody kills! There are obstacles and traps to avoid, zombies, crawl out of the ground, and when you get to the end of the stage, you fight a hulking, far more powerful zombie boss. This feels definitely like the arcade games of the 90s. This is when the combo system really comes in handy, as does the dropkick. I felt like I was playing TMNT: Turtles in Time/The Arcade Game with how often I jump kick during boss fights. You learn their pattern and do as much damage as you can without taking hits. You have a few lives, and can get 1UPS, but these stages can be terribly unforgiving anyway. The game also keeps track of how many hits you do, how far you can string a combo together. It doesn’t seem to benefit you, but it does look very cool! The combat’s one of the things I love about this game. You can combo together your regular hits, jumping attacks and special attacks in crazy ways, and experimenting will help you deal damage in an efficient, violent manner. The combat definitely felt worthwhile, from grabbing their heads and punching to uppercutting, or dashing forward, jump-kicking and swinging my guitar right afterward. Though I do feel like the walking/running is slow or awkward but this too fits that old style of game. But it was frustrating nonetheless.
Welcome To Die: ⅗
This game is definitely fun, but I feel like I was missing something without VR. I did do some research and found that when you play in VR, the screen’s a bit closed off, so you can’t see a lot of the enemies coming. From everything I’ve seen, it’s way better with VR, but it allows regular players to join in the fun as well, which I appreciate. It has couch co-op (but only one person can use VR there) and up to four players online. The special attacks are needlessly complex. They aren’t hard but they are tedious and failure turns you around (like if it’s back-forward-triangle) and it seemed like they were very easy to miss. The characters are fantastic, the blood and violence were plentiful, and the areas were fantastic in this particular art-style. But I would have had more fun in VR or with multiple parties involved. However, for what it is, it’s definitely fun and will offer a challenge, from hardcore mode to the normal mode. If you enjoy the beat ‘em ups of old and have VR, you won’t want to miss this. Even if you don’t, it’s worth a playthrough. The combat and challenge will keep you coming back for more.