If you were gaming in the early 90s then I’m sure you’ll have heard of the classic puzzler Lemmings. You’d be in control of a group of little green haired lemmings that had a knack of getting themselves… well… killed. You’d be tasked with guiding them to safety and it always proved to be good, chaotic fun.
If you’re gaming in the modern age too, then I’m sure you’ve played plenty of games based around zombies. I mean, they’re literally everywhere, and it’s certainly not a bad thing – those damn brain eaters are a worthy foe and in the rare occasions we get to actually play as them it’s always been good fun.
In Zombie Night Terror the eras have combined, bringing us a game that takes the classic old-school puzzling of Lemmings and ups the zombie count by 100%. There’s no room for innocent looking lemmings here; instead there’s blood, gore and brain eating monstrosities, bringing a monochromic Romero-esque twist to the classic gameplay.
As if the game’s core concept doesn’t scream ‘Romero’ from the start, the famous zombie movie director also gets a more obvious nod in the form of the virus that started the zombie infection in the first place. You’re tasked with spreading the infection and having zombies terrorise the world, all of it starting thanks to the infectious ‘romero’ virus. It’s a nice nod and it shows that developers NoClip are fairly clear with what inspired them.
Talking about inspirations, nearly everything about the gameplay feels just like Lemmings. Like, seriously; the gameplay formula exactly the same, albeit with zombies and a few extra gameplay twists. It’s not a bad thing though, with the game offering a great brain-eating experience.
Despite its classic inspiration, Zombie Night Terror manages to feel fresh – I haven’t played a puzzler like Lemmings in such a long time that it felt great to get into it again. Zombie Night Terror doesn’t feel like it’s just outright copying the game either, instead wearing its inspirations like a badge of honour rather than simply cloning the game and offering no original ideas of its own. Sure, it feels the same, but it does enough of it’s own things that it never feels like a cheap imitation of a classic.
Just like in Lemmings, your zombies will all walk in a particular direction, only stopping when there’s something blocking their path or when they walk to their death (and there’s plenty of ways for your poor, innocent zombies to meet their end). Thankfully you’re on board to give your zombies different abilities in order for them to progress and complete levels. You have to make every single decision for them – well, except eating brains… they’ll do that themselves, natural zombie instincts and all…
The different abilities on offer are great. Things start off basic with the ability to simply infect humans to have them join your zombie crew, but it won’t take long before your zombies are jumping, climbing, exploding and even turning into beastly Left 4 Dead-esque beefy zombies that can smash through walls and dish out some real damage. Like Lemmings, you’ll also be able to use a zombie that’ll stop your other zombies from moving on with no thought – unlike Lemmings though, these zombie ‘overlords’ are also able to combine different abilities and tell your zombies how to behave. Combining abilities is a neat gameplay mechanic and it’s something fresh and original for Zombie Night Terror.
Using abilities takes up DNA and if you don’t manage your zombies carefully then you can quickly find yourself in short supply. Thankfully it’s easy enough to find in levels or you can get extra DNA from killing humans, though you still have to make sure that you don’t use your abilities willy-nilly otherwise you might find yourself struggling to progress through each level.
Of course, humans won’t go down without a fight. Whilst there are some that run away from you in terror (and are particularly easy targets, mwahahaha), you’ll also come up against humans that are armed to the teeth and even SWAT forces that’ll take your zombies down with severe force. The further you progress through the game the more dangerous they become, though Zombie Night Terror makes sure to offer you better abilities for your zombies to balance everything out. You have the numbers too, with a ton of zombies for you to micro-manage and control throughout each level.
Things can get hectic fast though and you’ve got to be quick and ready when assigning abilities to your zombies if they’re going to survive the night. Thankfully there’s a pause button that lets you get on top of everything. It’s imperative you use it – I was stubborn at first thinking that I was ‘too experienced’ to need the pause button, but I quickly found that it made the game a whole lot more manageable and ultimately a more enjoyable experience.
There are forty levels to work through in the game that each feature varying main objectives as well as some bonus ones that are optional. The game isn’t too difficult so you won’t spend too long making your way through it, but at least the bonus objectives offer some replayability. There’s plenty of variety between levels too so things never get boring – that could be helped by the fact that you’ll blast through the game quite quickly though.
Whilst it doesn’t occur too often, failing levels can be frustrating given the lack of checkpoints in the game. None of them are particularly long, but the consequence of having to replay through quite a bit of gameplay could be a pain. As I’ve already mentioned though, the game isn’t too difficult so it won’t cause you too many problems.
Zombie Night Terror features a pixelly 8-bit style that’s colour palette is restricted to black, white and red. It works really well in-game and sets the dismal tone that features in so many of the classic movies of which the game is certainly inspired by. It’s no graphical marvel, but it’s effective, neat and works well with the gameplay. I liked it and I never got fed up of the aesthetics or the toilet humour that’s apparent from start to end.
I’ve mentioned the comparisons between Zombie Night Terror and Lemmings a lot during this review, but I think developers NoClip will see it as a compliment. It’s certainly meant as one with the similarities between the games definitely a good thing.
Zombie Night Terror offers enjoyable puzzling, some neat gameplay mechanics and a charming 8-bit style. Whilst the experience isn’t a long one, it’s certainly a great one and one puzzle fans don’t want to miss out on.
If you loved Lemmings, you’ll love Zombie Night Terror – I know I did.
Publisher: Gambitious Digital Entertainment
Release Date: 20/07/2016
Format(s): PC (Reviewed), Mac