Zombies + Vikings? I can live with this.
Zombie: a creature that was once living, dead, and then re-animated. Usually prefers to eat the living, especially the brains. Viking: warriors and sea faring pirates that traveled the land. In stories of ancient lore, did battle with Loki and praise be to Odin and all that other important stuff. Developer Zoinks has decided to take these two very popular but very different elements and create something of an arcade brawler. Ladies, gentleman, and undead folks, Zombie Vikings is here to unleash its arcade like brutality.
So one day Loki came and took Odin’s one good working eye, that’s the plot. Overwhelming complex, deep, meaningful right? Ok so while the plot might sound extremely basic and not the important aspect in a game of this genre, I need to raise my horn of ale to give credit when it is due. The story, while being a basic plot of Odin raising four misfit Vikings from the dead to retrieve his eye, is a completely hilarious and absurd tale. Zany characters fill the adventure, players take this undead crew across various environments, pummeling enemies constantly, and eating brains for health. If there was one group of words to describe some of the insane humor this game throws at players, let it be this: “Fish Turd Canon”
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
How long to beat: 5+ hours
Gameplay is very reminiscent of arcade brawlers, so if folks have ever played TMNT or X-men in the arcades, players will feel right at home here. For those unfamiliar with the genre, pay close attention because it’s complicated. Players beat up a ton of bad guys, lots of them actually. Choosing from one of the four Vikings at the start, each one has a various amount of different movies to try. While moving left to right in the 2D backdrops, players come across plenty of bad guys to pummel, coins to collects, and side quests to partake in.
Yes, there are side quests in each level that can be found and completed for a new weapon. Each one has a small little story event and some range, from rescuing a duck from the clutches of an evil fish, to trying to throw pepper into a whales face to make him sneeze the wandering child out of his blow hole. The majority of gameplay will be this combat over and over again. The side quests do help add variation though, and sometimes there are unique situations where players have to run for their life from an approaching mob, or dodge exploding fish turds. Also the few boss battles are fun and require a different strategy then the normal battles.
While various weapons can be unlocked or purchased with gold, all perform similarly, yet some have various different effects. One weapon might give some health back, another electrocutes the enemies, and one features a cat on a stick that scratches enemies. Runes can also be purchased, some that allow specific characters to increase their abilities or ones that can apply to all playable characters. Speaking of which, there are two extra characters that can be purchased on PSN as of now, but those waiting for the physical release will get these two characters out of the box plus some extra multiplayer arena levels. They are not critical to the game, but if looking for newer characters to use, they are available. The combat is simple but also a little bit more in depth than expected. While the weapons add some variation and hitting the attack buttons do different moves, holding them also gives different effects, as charge moves can be used. It takes a bit of timing but it works well once the timing is learned.
Visually the game has a very similar look to the developer’s previous game Stick it to the Man. The same flat, animated paper look is applied to the characters and environments. This leads to the game having a ton of characters, and it’s all mostly due to the outstanding hand drawn art with visuals reminding me of something seen on a Saturday morning cartoon, which ironically extends to the characters and dialog being thrown out constantly. While Zombie Vikings is an arcade brawler, it is very story driven and filled with hilarious jokes, self-referencing humor, and I even caught a Facebook “Walking Dead” joke in there.
The humor won’t be for everyone, but if players can appreciate absurd, crude, and zaniness, this will be one they can appreciate. The voice cast does a great job that completely adds to the cartoon vibe. They all perform the characters as expected of their quirkiness, with little to no boring performances throughout. Don’t fret either if worried about not being able to skip cut scenes though, it’s possible.
The genre Zombie Vikings caters to is a specific crowd. There are plenty of folks that have outgrown the style, but just as many that still enjoy them in their simplicity. It will be an issue for some that this brawler does nothing to really change the genre. The bigger concerns experienced was the lag via online co-op play. There were moments were it got extremely choppy and I couldn’t seem to make any progress or tell what was going on before dying and stuttering all over the screen. Maybe this is due to my personal internet connection, but I didn’t have much luck. Couch co-op does exist and it’s the best way to play any of these games, so if you have friends, bring them over so you can laugh, fight, and have a great time together because that’s when Zombie Vikings is at its best. If we ever get a sequel, I can only hope they include a leveling system for new move unlocks.
I’m a huge zombie fan and have been for years. I never thought I’d get to see a game combine these two elements together to include an extremely humorous tale. I had some brief moments of frustration during my time with the game, but ultimately this is one brawler I won’t forget. Not that it strikes a chord with me from a gameplay perspective, but the setting, characters, and humor are just so wild and out there, I absolutely loved my time with it, even if repetition and basic gameplay creeps in. Arcade brawler fans take note: grab a Viking helmet, some beer of root, your closet PS4 controller, and get to munching on some brains.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.