There are two things that I’m tired of seeing in video games: zombies and pixel art. Both have been drastically overused in the past few years, to the point where I’ve stopped enjoying them. So when a game called Zombie Night Terror finds itself on my computer, I was more than a little ready to dismiss it. I’d forgotten what being pleasantly surprised was like. It feels nice. Zombie Night Terror manages to succeed at being an excellent game in its own right, despite the now cliché elements in it.
Zombie Night Terror takes most of its inspiration from Lemmings, a game you’ve probably played at least once. True to this inspiration, Zombie Night Terror has you commanding a shambling horde of the undead in the same way that you would guide lemmings to their freedom. It’s the early 1980s, and a drug called Romero (ayyyyyy) has the unfortunate side effect of turning users into mindless limping zombies. As the commander of these rotting fiends, it’s up to you to nudge them in the direction of the juiciest meat you can find. That’s not to say that these zombies are nothing special, either. Various abilities such as making zombies explode, grotesquely morphing their bodies to become decaying crowd controllers, jacking their muscles to the level of Left 4 Dead‘s Tank, and helping zombies jump pretty damn high, help the game feel fresh constantly. The fun level design is an almost Oddworld-like mix of elevations, secret rooms, obstacles and devices. None of these levels felt like a repeat of another, a true show of good pixilated cartography.
Is he falling or jumping? Vote now on your phones.
“Cover your mouth when you sneeze, man!”
Zombie Night Terror’s presentation, as one would expect, is as B-movie horror as they come. For example, fast-forwarding the action gives your screen VHS-like blurred lines along the screen and the squeak of the video tape’s head. The black-and-white colouring of the environments’ is broken up by the squirts of blood and bits of bodies that inevitably find themselves everywhere. Think Hatred, and you’re on the right track. As I mentioned before, many abilities will contort your zombies into new forms. This is where the 80s body horror comes into delightful play, reminding me of awesome David Cronenberg creatures or John Carpenter abominations. What little voice acting there is may be in some kind of mumbled French (a result of the development team’s nationality), but the delivery of each line conveys the feeling of the era near-perfectly. The writing and soundtrack are pretty damn good too, sounding exactly like they would thirty years ago.
Much like another game that has you on the undead’s side, Stubbs the Zombie, I had a blast controlling my shambling hordes and feasting on delicious brains. Zombie Night Terror may look cliché as hell, and sometimes it is, but the 80s horror presentation and Lemmings inspiration make this a wholly unique game that escapes its groan-worthy first impression to offer something truly special.