Have you all heard about “zombies?” It’s a pretty obscure horror concept, so I’ll bring you up to speed. In a nutshell, the idea is that the rotting dead rise and begin to feast on the living. It’s a super-simple concept, with very little else to it, which is why it’s never been explored in film, TV, books, or comics. But it works real well for a simple, Lemmings-inspired game.
After a mad scientist starts an outbreak, apparently just for fun, your job is to direct the zombies to the exit of the field of play. The problem is that as a mindless horde, the zombies will simply lurch in the same direction until they hit an obstacle, then turn around and go the other way. And let’s not forget the other problems, like falling to their destruction, fires, and—oh yes—the armed humans who will try to bash the zombies’ skulls in rather than be bitten and turned themselves.
To get around these minor problems, you gain certain powers to help you direct the horde. For example, you can create master zombies that can make zombies turn around, you can make zombies explode to kill enemies or destroy special walls, or you can give them a burst of speed, allowing them to close in quickly for a kill. There are a lot more powers, all of which vary from level to level, and some of which have to be unlocked from within a level before they can be used. Powers can also be combined in interesting ways; exploding a master zombie creates a larger explosion, along with debris that can infect humans, and giving them the jump ability allows them to fling normal zombies to ridiculous distances. Figuring out how to use these is the central challenge of the game, and seeing which powers you haven’t been given can be just as much of a hint of what to do as the powers you do have.
The game is rendered in a blocky but still wonderfully detailed world of black, white, and grey which makes the vibrant red used for blood stand out all the more once the mayhem starts. Even though the characters are done in the low-resolution style popular with indie games, a lot of work has done with the design; ’50s greasers are partying down with ’70s disco dancers as you make your way through subways, sewers, hospitals, and high-rise apartments.
The level design is a treat, giving you a variety of challenges, only some of which require you to kill every human you meet. You simply need a zombie to escape most of the time, while others require you reach a target before the time runs out or kill the boss to proceed. There’s always a bonus goal to each level; challenges that require you to kill a particular target in a certain way or find hidden rooms.
So Here it Is
Zombie Night Terror is a fun puzzler, and those who loved the classic Lemmings and also have a morbid sense of humor will enjoy it. Even though the characters are low-rez, their deaths are fairly grisly (blood sprays across walls, the infected vomit before collapsing), but there is something satisfying about watching a zombie walk off the edge of a skyscraper and hit the pavement below. If it’s ever been your dream to control a horde of the ravenous dead, well, you should probably seek professional help. But play this game, too.