What's in the name of a video game? I mean, sometimes it feels like someone just covered a dart board in adjectives and threw a dart or two, some actually sound cool. However, it is rare that the game's title tells you how to best enjoy the game. That said, Zombie Party by Peach Pie Productions is indeed a party game in the vein of Starwhal or Bearzerkers. When played in a group of two or more, it's a fun local multiplayer experience. However, when doing it as a party of one the experience really falls flat. There is a stunning variety of weapons and characters, plus the absolute chaos and destruction is amazing if you're in the mood. On the flip side the story is lacking, the graphics are uninspired, and the audio is tolerable at best, and at worst grating. Though I don't think I will go back into it solo, I may take this game out at some point during a party when after we've had a few beers.
Zombie Party is currently available on Steam for $9.99.
There are zombies and somehow they've gotten to every corner of time and space. At this point, I'm kind of glad we're at the point where we don't even feel like zombies need explanation. Every zombie origin has been done and so any story would have been derivative. There are four game modes: Adventure, Dungeon, Arcade, and Deathmatch. There is no story around any of these, you're just one of the stunning array of characters killing zombies. Once you tell yourself "this is a party game," that makes the lack of story more tolerable, but each of the bosses has a line and some hint that there was some sort of story that could have been intriguing, but as it stands there are no true final bosses and the whole experience is kind of one huge anticlimax.
The game I feel this plays most like is The Binding of Isaac in that it's a twin stick roguelike shooter. You can also bring along a pet, which help you out by damaging enemies, blocking shots, collecting treasure, and more. There are a few gameplay modes, but they only have slight variations on what you actually do. At the end of each run, you get all the coins that you recieved in that level, whether you spent them in the game or not. These coins can be used to unlock everything: Characters, guns, and pets. Nothing is unlockable through the matches except for the pets, which you may find laying around in cages. Either that or you can save your coins for the slot machines, which are super easy to manipulate into giving what you want for just 25 coins as opposed to buying the thing 400 and over. There are also multiplayer on all but the Arcade mode, both online and local. I recommend sharing the madness locally, this is a game in which the enjoyment is best if shared by a friend sitting there flabbergasted at what you did to your gun.
This isn't a game mode in and of itself, but it is the common thread connecting three of the four game modes so I feel this is important to just cover separately. The variety of normal guns is phenominal and each one does have its own unique stats. These can be further customized with all sorts of runes and artifacts that can vastly change what and how the guns fire. My personal favorite thing to do was to use the uzi, give it split fire so it would fire three shots at once incredibly quickly, then give it the grenade artifact so I basically had a grenade fire hose. With that combined with the amount of guns, that leads to a massive variety in gameplay styles. I didn't even mention the special guns that you can't modify, but really don't need it because they are stupidly powerful. The game lets you take one of the nonstandard guns with you into each game, for which you can either take your character's default or pick manually.
Though not quite as hugely variable, the characters are also worth mentioning separately. This is a roguelike action-rpg, and so the character you pick actually does matter. There are six stats: Strength, Hit points, Speed, Fire rate, and Luck. Though you can increase them as you level up, each character does have different starting stats. These also aren't all equal, some of the characters have very bare bones stats while others are amazingly powerful. Each character can also begin the game with one powerful non-standard gun, but that can be changed as I mentioned before. Some are parodies, some are original, all are certainly unique. I did find that the stat numbers did make a difference, so that all works. The RPG elements in this are well-designed and easy to work with
This is the first mode in the game as well as the mode with the most levels. This is basically just a monster horde arena in which the monsters spawn in there and your best strategy is to run in a huge circle shooting into the horde of zombies and other monsters like a border collie who was just locked into a room with Rambo and a case of Mountain Dew. That isn't to say it isn't fun for a while, but after all of that, after you beat all seven bosses of all seven stages, what do you get? You get plopped back into the first forest stage on hard mode. No capstone boss, no reward. I actually died a bit on the inside when I saw that, it was like the the opposite problem I had with sphereFACE. In sphereFACE you have a good ending but no little rewards to keep you going. In Zombie Party you have a lot of good little rewards but you aren't working towards anything. I know it isn't the destination but the journey, but I would have appreciated some sort of destination.
This is a dungeon-crawling roguelike adventure. Barring the same "no ending" problem I have with adventure mode, I actually do prefer this mode a little bit more. There are only three levels, each with five stages and a boss, so that's a total of 18 levels that you replay over and over until you die. The gameplay may be roughly the same as adventure, but I was more of a fan of Dungeon mode for the exploration factor. I actually had to do a strategy that wasn't circling the enemies and shooting into the crowd. I would have enjoyed it more if there had been more levels to clear instead of just a forest, a jungle temple, and a desert. I would have loved to have explored a disco world like in Adventure mode, but I think this mode is supposed to be a bit more serious. That's all well and good, but I can still make a gun rapid-fire explosive fish in this supposed serious mode.
I'm switching this and arcade mode since Deathmatch plays like Adventure and Dungeon mode but it's just you versus other players. It's a free-for-all arena in which everyone plays a character and just goes nuts. I wouldn't have a problems if the arenas weren't so small. The fact that you can't hurt yourself with your own stuff just means that any character that sets fire has a distinct advantage because while everyone else is trapped in a fiery hellscape, the character that set it can just waltz through it like a character out of the Bible.
This mode plays completely differently from the other three in that this is a side scrolling adventure more like Contra or something. On a completely unrelated note, it is also my least favorite. Just going from left to right with weapons with almost no ammo against zombies that absorb bullets like if I were using one of those little potato pellet guns. Maybe I just needed to go a bit further to get to some sort of ending, but if the other modes were any indication I would have been disappointed.
Graphics and audio
The graphics are fine. Kind of standard pixel art avatars, but all of the characters looked unique. I only really have a problem with a few of the bosses, which I feel could have been a bit more inspired. Some worked, but others just felt phoned in. I'm mainly thinking about the Dance King, the boss of the Disco stage in Adventure mode. He's just a skeleton with a top hat and glasses. In this colorful stage, I wish they would have at least made his hat a color other than black or given him a neon jacket or pants. As it stood, I thought I was about to start hearing that remix of Spooky Scary Skeletons. I didn't feel like I was being visually assaulted by any stretch of the imagination, but with the crazy premise and no need to rationalize it, I really wish they would have gone nuts with the absolute silliness rather than pulling it back to earth at some points.
The audio, on the other hand, was atrocious. The music was fine, nothing special, but the sound effects were mixed really badly. When I used the aforementioned grenade hose in the underwater stage, the bubbles and explosions mixed and created this audio assault that just forced me to mute the game to avoid losing my mind. Either one could have worked, but together they just sounded terrible.
Despite the flaws in the story, graphics, and audio, I did quite enjoy Zombie Party, however briefly. I can think of better places to get your mindless violence, but I can also think of worse. I wouldn't necessarily call Zombie Party a "good" game. However, it is fun for at least a while. I did feel gypped out of a satisfactory conclusion and I did have to mute it after a while, but it could provide you with a few hours of fun with a friend or two. I would say for it's price, it's worth a look. Just don't expect to be blown away.
|+ Near-endless weapon variety||– No satisfactory conclusion|
|+ Tons of unique characters||– Maddening SFX|
|+ Crazy anarchic violence||– Game modes play roughly the same|