This review originally appeared on PSPMinis.com back on April 17, 2012. Read my Postmortem about that website, soon.
This is the first time that Open Emotion Studios has released a mature-themed game. As soon as you fire up I Kill Zombies, those cute blocks from Mad Blocker Alpha show up on screen bathed in blood. F-words then rain down on you, and the game isn’t shy about it since the swearing is also spelled out in the subtitles.
It is rather a jarring experience, knowing that the studio has previously always released family-friendly games. Now, we have this gory, swear-laden zombie-killing game in I Kill Zombies. Good thing this game still retains what the studio is known for: a bevy of content. However, it also comes with the bad, too. I Kill Zombies is an unpolished game.
There are far too many zombie-related things coming out lately be it a movie, a television series, or video games. It over-saturates the market, makes it look cheap. I strongly believe that developers are being lazy if they churn out yet another zombie game since there are lots of premises that haven’t been tapped yet. I don’t know, like dispersing a riot, anything that isn’t zombies, please. Fortunately, I Kill Zombies does not feel like a cash-in game. This Mini offers a great deal of variety. It is not just a zombie-killing game like Left to Die in Zhombai. The one thing Left to Die in Zhombai does better than this Mini is in the graphics department, and that’s it.
I don’t know where to start, to be honest with you. There are so many things to talk about with this Mini, both positive and bash-worthy. I guess I’ll start with the negative side: the bugs are far too many. I couldn’t list them all, but most are definitely annoying, especially the lockups. Well, the game isn’t listed as Vita-compatible in the PS Store I managed to transfer the game using Media Go, so that may be due to the game being untested on the PlayStation Vita.
I Kill Zombies is an arena zombie-killing game; however, it isn’t limited to that alone. There are objectives, like killing a specific number of a particular zombie type, as well as escape missions and survival missions. There are tons of traps peppered all over the levels, too, and these traps kill the zombies also, which is fun. In fact, there is a mission where your objective is to guide the zombies to the traps. Again, though, there are problems. The AI pathfinding is already suspect in itself, but what really bothers me is that sometimes the zombies don’t get killed even if they do get caught in the traps.
Speaking of which, the zombies are varied and unique. There are dog zombies, exploding zombies, normal zombies, spitting zombies and others. The boss fights, however, are uneven. There is a boss that is easy to defeat, easy meaning you don’t need to do anything but run around while waiting for a chainsaw to spawn. Then there are other bosses that need patience and planning in order to put them down.
You can choose between three characters, two of them being unlocked once you blaze through the campaign. There are four kinds of attack: light (Square), heavy (Triangle), chainsaw (Circle), grenade (right shoulder button—for grenades and chainsaw, you have to pick them up before you can utilize them). There is also a special move for every character. Pressing X is for sprinting, and to reread your objectives, just press Select. Of course, movement is through D-pad/analog nub.
Like Ninjamurai, visual cues and sprite animations are very limited. The latter is much more forgivable, while the former isn’t. When things get crowded, you don’t know where you are. Most games draw the player character’s silhouette or outline on top of the overlapping sprites to give you an idea of where the hell you are. I Kill Zombies does not do that. You might say I am nitpicking, but that’s, like, basic game design. Later on, the attack animation gets mixed up with the background because they are similar in color, making it really difficult to see if you are causing damage to zombies or not.
This Mini is content-heavy. There are achievements, unlockable characters, unlockable mini-games (that get inserted between the campaign levels for variety) and a sound test. The mini-games are really fun, too, and add much to the game’s value. There is also an unlockable Survival Mode for those endurance players.
The sound effects and music are top-notch as well. Good thing there is a sound test, so you can leave your PSP/PSV alone and play your favorite track while making yourself dinner. I can’t really judge the graphics because they are (un)pretty stretched out in my Vita. I don’t dig the South Park-ish game art, but I am sure some of you like this kind of graphic design.
Even with its faults, I Kill Zombies is an entertaining game. But this time, I won’t let this pass: the unpolishedness, I don’t know if that is even a word, is massively disappointing.