When it comes to brawlers, it must be difficult to develop something unique. Thankfully, Zombie Vikings has an absurd premise with tons of humour that'll keep you entertained even when the gameplay doesn't.
If you've ever seen Zoink's previous game Stick It to the Man then you know what to expect when it comes to visuals. Everything looks like a living pop-up book with flat animated characters in artistically rendered environments. It's quite a distinct style that does a great job of establishing an eccentric atmosphere filled with oddball characters and bizarre situations. To further shape the insanity; the upbeat jazzy live music, goofy voice-overs, and satisfying sound effects provide a great deal of depth to the presentation. The talented voice actors bring each unique character to life with personality to spare, so you'll easily pick your favourite to play as based on their temperament alone. Overall, when it comes to off-the-wall hilarity, you can't get much better than this.
Zombie Vikings' gameplay doesn't do a lot to make it stand out of the beat 'em up genre, but it is quite solid. You can move in three dimensions like in any classic brawler although it may not look like this is the case by checking out the screenshots. Basic moves include jumping, picking up and throwing objects, running, special attacks, and the ability to charge any attack. There's definitely enough to create some solid basics, but it may get repetitive after playing for a while. Luckily, you can invite some chums to play with you either locally or online (or even a mixture of the two). Considering up to four players can join the fight at once, this has the potential to add a lot of enjoyment to the experience. Also, purchasing and equipping various weapons and runes makes it a more personalized affair.
As previously mentioned, the gameplay can get repetitive. The main reason for this is that the core mechanics basically remain the same throughout. Some events unfold that add diversity such as when you have to outrun a monster, snatch an item from critters playing keep-away, throw items at buttons, and even play in a soccer-like sporting event. However, these situations are too few and far between to break up the monotony of beating up countless waves of enemies. On top of this, some of these extra events are downright annoying. Trying to grab an item from ankle-biters who keep passing it back and forth can get extraordinarily frustrating. This is especially true when you push the grab button and your character picks up one of the critters instead of the item then you have to start the chase all over again. The same problem regularly occurs in the soccer mini-game. That being said, if you want a break from the tedium then you can always battle your pals in a selection of arenas in the versus mode.
Finally, I hate to say it but there are way too many bugs that are hard to ignore. I know that the developers could work on a patch and they might eventually fix all of them, but as of writing this; I am completely baffled by how many issues I came across. I had to restart one level about six times due to different bugs that halted my progress. These included being stuck in a rock, key items failing to spawn, the camera leaving me behind, and enemies being stuck off the side of the screen. Once, it wouldn't allow me to advance after I beat all the enemies. The most infuriating bug happened when I perished but upon respawning, I kept dying immediately. As it looped between respawning and dying, I just watched and shook my head. A couple of issues that didn't break the game also turned up which included characters entirely ceasing their animation for a whole level and the pause button stopped actually pausing the action. I tend not to mention bugs in my reviews since they usually aren't severe or frequent enough, but this is unacceptable.
Zombie Vikings is a game that I desperately wanted to thoroughly enjoy. However, due to the lack of fun distractions and a substantial amount of bugs, I was left feeling more annoyed than happy. That being said, if you're looking to have a few laughs with friends who enjoy a solid brawler together then this will surely fit the bill.
- + Hilarious moments never cease to amuse
- + Solid arcade-style beat 'em up gameplay
- + You can play with four players simultaneously both locally and online
- - Plenty of severe bugs frequently occur
- - Some segments are more irritating than fun
- - Core gameplay becomes repetitive since it never really changes throughout