Indie Quickie: #killallzombies

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

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What is it? A wave survival twin-stick zombie shooter.

Who made it and where can you get it? You can blame Beatshapers for unleashing this latest outbreak of video game zombies, which is currently contained exclusively to PlayStation 4 via the US PlayStation Store (a release in Europe is still to come). If you want to kill all zombies, it’ll cost you $13.99.

How much did we play? Attempted 12 survival runs in somewhere between one and two hours of play. My best run so far has been six waves, a player level of 15, and a high score of 61,815,184. I have already slaughtered over 15 thousand zombies.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements or other details you should know about? Nothing comes to mind. The game does have an interactive Twitch mechanic allowing spectators to determine random events for the player, but I’m not a gameplay streamer so that’s not something I have yet to try or test the functionality/performance of.

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Why should you play it?

    A long time ago, well before modern sports such as football and basketball and baseball were created to provide spectators with an outlet for competitive escapism, gladiators used to fight to the death in amphitheaters like the Colosseum to satisfy the bloodthirsty mob. In the future dreamed up by the designers at Beatshapers, gladiatorial combat has evolved into a televised sport in which everyday people are tossed into an arena to kill and survive against endless hordes of zombies.

    This futuristic death sport sets the stage for the events of #killallzo​mbies, a simple top-down arcade shooter which puts you in control of a competing survivor, using the left stick to run around, and the right stick to aim and fire an arsenal of unlockable firearms. The objective here is clear and concise: survive as long as possible and kill as many zombies as you can until the undead mob inevitably takes you down. Of course, that’s a whole lot easier said than done, because in this future setting the action takes place in an arena with a floor made of hundreds of transforming hexagonal panels which are constantly raising and lowering to create barriers or pitfalls. If that wasn’t enough, random events cause ambulances, RVs, flaming cars, panda bear statues and 16 ton weights to fall from the sky, and traps like spinning blades and turrets to rise up from the blood-soaked arena floor. When used effectively, these hazards can help thin the opposition. Or, if you get careless, they can drop right on top of you and bring a stellar run to a sudden and gruesome halt.

    As zombie blood is splattered across the arena floor, the player character steadily levels up and earns points to spend on short-duration perks like health regen, special bullet types (poison, ice, armor piercing, etc.), quicker movement, increased reload speed, invincibility, mine trails and screen-clearing nukes, among countless others. The cool thing about the perk system is the way it allows points to be stocked, so amidst the mindless violence there is an element of strategy to deploying power-ups at the right time. Luck factors into the equation a bit as well, because when you hit the Triangle button to call up the perk menu, you’re limited to a selection of four randomly generated upgrades. Getting the right perk at the right time is crucial to a long run. Between thousands of hungry zombies attacking from all sides and the luck of the power-up draw, survival is no easy task. However, the game does do a great job of gradually ramping up in difficulty and perk/weapon unlock progression. As you begin to master reload timing, weapon selection, the locomotion and rhythms of darting in and out of crowds, managing wave size to keep the arena from turning into an impenetrable sea of zombies and using the hazardous environment to your advantage, you’ll survive a bit longer with each try and get sucked into the “just one more game” high score loop. It’s the same basic idea that made games like Robotron, Geometry Wars and Smash TV classics, only with zombies.

Parting Thoughts: Had this game been released on Steam, it would almost have to be classified as Early Access. Not to say that the game somehow isn’t fully functional; all of its mechanics and the overall performance definitely represent the quality of a finished product. However, at this time there is only the one endless survival mode, with two additional modes–Defend the Flag and Co-op Ladder–blocked off in the menu behind “Coming Soon” posters, which does give off an incomplete vibe, especially when the price tag is set above $10. The good news is that these additional modes as well as other future content will be updated into the game for free, so you don’t need to be concerned about getting suckered into the DLC money trap of paying to play now only to have to pay more later to get the full experience. More importantly, the game plays well and provides a fun twin-stick shoot-’em-up challenge that’s hard to put down. #killallzo​mbies is an awesome little game, but I’m on the fence about whether it’s worth trying out for the apocalyptic zombie sport now or waiting until more content is in place, because that decision ultimately depends on how much replay value you are able to squeeze out of a singular endless survival mode.

Disclosure: A free PSN key for #killallzo​mbies was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s publisher.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!