Implayed (Episode 21): Atom Zombie Smasher

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Ah, another Blendo Games title. The last one I reviewed was Air Forte, and that was an interesting experience. What about this one?

I’m gonna state from the beginning that it’s certainly interesting. It’s a wholly different take on the zombie survival genre, at the very least.

It’s easy enough to see why – while most zombie games nowadays simply pit you against them in an open world (DayZ mod for ARMA2), a less open world with clear objectives (Left4Dead), or even an episodic adventure series with meaningful decisions and serious emotional implications (The Walking Dead), this one has you control a semi-military organization in their quest of keeping Nuevo Aires moderately clear of zombies by employing various mercenary forces.

It’s a strategy game, though not a particularly standard one. Once you choose the region you wish to defend from the zombies, you get set into a procedurally generated city grid with a random selection of your unlocked mercenaries, with the possibility of setting their positions before starting the operation.

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Here the zombies are barricaded in one long street covered by the snipers in the lower left, while I throw artillery fire on them whenever it reloads.

There’s a bit of strategy involved – you always start with your helicopter, and once it gets above the landing area, it will sound the fog horn, attracting people towards it in a certain radius. Do you use your zombie bait fog machine to attract zombies towards a mine while the helicopter leads the people away from the zombies? Do you use dynamite to destroy a few buildings (with zombies too) to allow your infantry to run around picking zombies off? Do you set barricades in order to hold the zombies in a line to get them picked off by the snipers on the far end? The possibilities are endless, some much more explosive than others. In addition, you can re-use some of the mercenaries or modify their position in mid-mission.

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Mission accomplished. Rarely happens.

Killing all the zombies in an outbreak area before nightfall will clear the area and rescue the remaining survivors automatically. The game doesn’t make that easy for you, however. While you do get great combos sometimes, like helicopter, explosives, sniper, infantry, allowing you to make quick work of the zombies in alright numbers, you get some combos that make it extremely hard to do anything. Good luck clearing the area with barricades, mines and explosives, keeping in mind that none of these reload. Some mercenaries work better than others, and the randomness makes it a necessity to see the best way to handle each in every given situation.

On the other hand, overall, the game is hard as nails. Level 1 outbreaks are easy enough to clear, but higher levels quickly take over, making for a rather steep difficulty curve. ¬†You’re in a race against the zombie plague, quite literally, each having a point bar that unlocks various stuff for both you and the zombies. It’s easy to lose horribly, and extremely challenging to win, but it’s worth it, if only to see the humorous vignettes and to feel how the mercenaries you bring in get stronger and more effective.

Your dudes get more effective as they gain levels.

Your dudes get more effective as they gain levels.

The visual style is effective – it only takes a purple dot to know a zombie that you need to keep away from your yellow dot civvies. But it’s really effective. It’s immediately readable and perfect for the artstyle. In addition, the music makes for a very merry fit to the rest of the game, despite it making me feel despair (I suck at the game).

I’ve gone on longer than I wanted to, but it’s a great game – you can find it on Steam at 10 Euros.

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