It seems like an age ago that the Wii U launched, but I still remember Zombi U being the most talked about release game for Nintendo’s latest console.
While other zombie games used the direct fear of the undead in front of you to make their game tense and thrilling, Ubisoft had the great idea to use the new hardware, namely the Wii U Gamepad, to add some suspense by forcing you to look away from the screen while the sound of approaching moans came ever closer.
With the PS4, Xbox One and PC release of Zombi it’s obvious that the developers didn’t have that same luxury, but the fact that Zombi U’ s gameplay and tense atmosphere has survived and that they’ve managed to produce a similar level of suspense is testament to how good the game was to begin with.
Zombi takes place in London, right on the doorstep of Buckingham palace, after the aftermath of a zombie breakout. As a survivor wondering around the streets with no form of defence or plan, a sudden voice from a tannoy system beckons you into the underground and towards a ‘safe’ bunker.
From here you get to learn about weapons, your flashlight and how to stay alive (hopefully) against the odds. The first half an hour of the game gives you the lowdown and only a few scares from a growing number of the undead, but also gives you plenty of chance to hide or withdraw.
Soon, though, you’ll learn that not even your bunker is safe and it’s only a matter of time before you die. One of the nice touches in the game is that your character suffers permadeth, when they’re dead, they’re dead and you’re brought back as a brand new character. This has two effects. For one, you lose all your stuff that you’ve collected but not placed in the container back at your hideout. Secondly, if you grow attached to a character then it’s far more likely that you’ll avoid too many risks in order to keep them alive.
As the game progresses you’ll find less and less areas to hide in, your only chance is to find wood and nails to barricade yourself in as the doors are not lockable. In return, the game offers you some pretty jump-inducing moments as zombies hammer on the door as you frantically try to find another exit and escape from the undead.
Graphically the game hasn’t really improved much, although it has improved, and it doesn’t impress when placed alongside its more modern peers but the way that it uses the dark and shadowy corners is a perfect replacement, making you use your ‘prepper-pad’, a sort of tablet that can locate zombies and items, more often and avoid running directly into dark alleyways. What has improved over the Wii U version are the controls. Playing with an Xbox joypad on PC was a much smoother experience than with the Wii U pad.
It’s also optimised really well for PC, even relatively low end systems will get a lot from this game and still have it running at a good pace but those who have the hardware can ramp everything up.
Despite being a release game for Wii U, Zombi is a welcome addition to the PC and newer consoles which adds something a little different to the genre. The lower price point will hopefully mean that the game gets the audience it deserved on first release.