A new designer drug has hit the streets. It promises to blow your mind, but its side effects can be somewhat severe – namely a quick painful death, reanimation, and an insatiable hunger for the flesh of the living. This is the beginning of a potentially apocalyptic zombie outbreak, and it is your job to ensure its proliferation. Command your freshly turned zombies to kill and infect as many humans as possible and bring about an undead armageddon!
Zombie Night Terror is, for all intents and purposes, Lemmings for a new generation, replacing the suicidal rodents with homicidal corpses and buckets of pixelated gore. Each of the game’s 40 levels tasks you with a simple objective – typically to kill or infect a certain number of humans, or to locate and reach the exit. While the primary objective is generally fairly straightforward, it is seldom easy to complete.
Every level is open and it’s left up to you how you tackle it. You need to micro-manage your zombies, because as brain dead eating machines, they lack any will of their own. They simply shamble in one direction until hitting an impassable object, at which point they will turn around and head back the other way. Any human they encounter they will attempt to dine on, be that a defenceless poser or shotgun-wielding gang member.
A zombie has no desire outside of eating warm human flesh and zero sense of self preservation, so you need to ensure their safety, because if they all die the zombie outbreak will be halted and the level will be lost. Thankfully, you have at your disposal an ever-expanding range of mutations to better enable your undead horde to devour the living.
Mutation is the key to bypassing obstacles and to more effectively killing some of the more aggressive humans foolishly attempting to stem the tide of undead slowly devouring the world. Is there a wall you can’t get past? Detonate a zombie to blast through it. Are your zombies mindlessly falling to their demise through a hole in the floor? Give them the ability to jump over it! Can’t reach the floor above you? Why not combine mutations and create a new zombie that will throw its rotting brethren up there?
Every level provides a new challenge, and you’ll need to discover the correct combination of mutations in order to get to the objective. There is no single specific solution to each level, but over time you will learn a sort of zombie mutation shorthand to overcome the various roadblocks and the more well-armed humans. However, your zombie numbers are generally limited, as is your DNA resource used to trigger their mutations.
That makes managing resources, directing your mindless army, and puzzle solving feel like juggling live grenades at times – a wrong move or second of inattention can lead to an unstoppable chain-reaction that sees all your careful planning quickly disintegrate. There are times where you will be furiously clicking on zombies and mutation buttons in order to get through a roadblock, and other times where you’ll need to pause the game and take careful stock of the level to plan out your next series of placements and mutations. It can be frustrating, but those eureka moments when your zombies devour the last survivor or shamble out the exit are nigh on euphoric!
In short, I love this game. It’s challenging without ever being unfair, and the aesthetic is rather charming, utilising a monochromatic pixel art style with just a dash of colour to add emphasis when needed. Every zombie has its own distinct look and visual personality, and the constant homages and horror references are mostly on point, with only the occasional cringe-inducing juvenile attempt at adult humour hitting a bum note. The music, however, is never guilty of this! It’s the perfect accompaniment throughout, with a rather delightful 1980’s John Carpenter feel to it.
Zombie Night Terror provides just the right amount of puzzle-y frustration and ‘one more level’ compulsion. It’s just going to take some practice, a lot of reloading and a fair amount careful planning to bring about the zombie apocalypse, which definitively proves that the one thing a zombie horde needs in order to overrun the world is more brains.