Monday 24 October 2016

Zombi review: Back from the undead

Zombi (PS4/XOne/PC): rating: 7/10; age 18+

Published 10/09/2015 | 12:52

Zombi: post-apocalyptic London
Zombi: post-apocalyptic London

BACK from the dead after an impressive debut as a Wii U launch title, Zombi on other consoles is forced to ditch the gadget gimmicks that defined its post-apocalyptic fright night set in London.

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You begin in an abandoned Underground station, alone except for the distant moans of the walking dead. But suddenly a voice crackles in your ear – it’s the Prepper, an enigmatic helper who guides you around the city as you hunt for supplies.

What follows is a standard first-person survival horror. As you explore the devastated city, you must take out the undead, usually with a melee weapon. They take several swipes to go down and the combat is deliberately clumsy. Guns are in short supply and ammo is typically scarce so your best friend becomes a hefty cricket bat.

In an amusing twist, if you fall victim to the undead, a new character regenerates back at base and you start over. But seek out the zombified old ‘you’ and you can recover your inventory by slaying yourself. How very post-modern.

Zombi: Your trusty cricket bat
Zombi: Your trusty cricket bat

The plot soon thickens as other mysterious survivors start to contact you, giving pause for thought about the Prepper’s instructions.

Publisher Ubisoft decided there wasn't enough interest to warrant a Zombi sequel but instead green-lit this port to more powerful consoles. Alas, it has lost something in the translation.

Where the Wii U cleverly insisted you take your eyes off the TV – and thus incoming zombies – to look at your inventory on the Gamepad, now rummaging in your backpack blocks most of the screen but still gives a glimpse of your enemies. Scanning the environment for clues with a handheld device used to require holding up the GamePad in front of your face – now you simply point with an on-screen cursor, deflating all of the tension felt on Wii U.

What remains is thus a competent if fairly routine survival horror – kill zombies, fortify base, collect supplies, repeat.

At just €20 for the digital download, however, Zombi does offer decent value and easily whiles away a few mindless hours.

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