First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.
“Roguelike”; a word used to describe a particular game genre. While it’s commonly attributed to a decades-old title (Rogue, 1980), it’s also used to describe any game comprised of random maps with “perma-death” for the unwary explorer. Today’s Haven Review is for a modern roguelike adventure called Zombie Party, developed by Peach Pie Productions and published by Black Shell Media.
Zombie Party marries traditional roguelike RPG strategy with modern bullethell “shoot-n-evade” tactics. The game’s tutorial is quite good in explaining how the game works, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to reset it. I inadvertently canceled before it was finished, and the title screen no longer shows it as an option. This isn’t really a problem; the game controls are conveniently located in the Options menu. Speaking of controls, there doesn’t seem to be a way to remap the keys. Unless you’re a gamepad user, you’re stuck with A, D, S and W for movement. SPACE for jumping, left-click for shooting and right-click for alternate fire.
You begin by selecting from an available list of “unlocked” characters. Each character has slightly different stats. Some favor strength, some have extra luck and still others have more hit points. Once you’ve chosen a character, the game offers several modes of play, each with its own charm and style:
Adventure: A themed RPG, based around a time travel story line.
Dungeon: The traditional roguelike dungeon crawl (and my personal favorite way to play).
Arcade: Wave after wave of oncoming undead. Try to kill 10K foes in 5 minutes!
Deathmatch: A small-scale, 4-player PvP slugfest. Go up against the AI or find opponents online.
Now let’s examine the game play. Regardless of which mode you launch, you’ll be inundated with dozens, or even hundreds of baddies bent on depleting your health bar. If they succeed, you’re dead; and in true roguelike fashion you’ll be starting over from scratch. Be on the lookout for powerful items that can keep you alive to fight another level!
Power-ups and ammo appear as items floating on the map, and are dropped when you destroy certain monsters, barrels or chests. Some power-ups enhance your character’s movement for a short time; others can be added to your guns to increase their effectiveness. Still others come in the form of special projectiles, and are added to your alternate fire button.
Another thing to watch for is the item shop. This is useful, but equally dangerous, as you’re left vulnerable while shopping. Kudos to the shopkeeper who sells his wares in the midst of zombie-infested combat! While you can purchase guns, ammo, health and power-ups at any time, it’s probably best to wait for a break in the action. To buy an item, select it with A, D, S and W, then press SPACE to complete the purchase. Each item costs a certain amount of gold coins, which are generously strewn about as you blast your foes.
While the maps, levels and stages have a palatable “wash-rinse-repeat” quality, the variety of weapons and items help keep the game tactics fresh.
My only suggestions for improvement are to allow custom key mappings and the reloading of the tutorial. The game genre itself may be getting long in the tooth, but enhancements to its presentation would, I believe, be welcomed by most players.So overall, is Zombie Party worth it? Priced on Steam at $8 (USD), the answer is yes. Despite the game’s difficulty, it’s very addictive and will keep you coming back. It’s a fun, roguelike romp with practically endless replay value.