Indie games are notorious for flying under the average consumer’s radar. Whether it’s due to a lack of marketing or an untimely release, many exciting experiences are left undiscovered by a potential fan. Such is the case for Zombie Night Terror, A 2D sidescrolling strategy game from developer NoClip. [Ed note—not to be confused with Danny O’Dwyer’s fantastic new documentary outlet.] Putting an innovative spin on the classic zombie genre, Zombie Night Terror didn’t receive the initial success it deserved, but won over critics and cultivated a devoted fanbase.
One of the many aspects that makes Zombie Night Terror so enjoyable is its overall look and feel. While pixelated graphics are a worn out staple of indies, this game uses them in a brilliant way, as watching hordes of zombies tear through the helpless living masses becomes almost comical. The color palette of Zombie Night Terror is also a notable standout. The game utilizes a minimal black and white style with splashes of green and red to emphasize objectives and abilities, as well as the ever-present blood and gore. But most importantly, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play. By relying on mechanics similar to those in Lemmings, the player is able to easily guide their zombies through each level, directing them with a series of directional and action buttons laid across the map.
Zombie Night Terror has little in the way of storytelling. The game’s forty levels are divided into short, movie-esque sections with common themes. Each of these sets of levels throws in new abilities for the player’s zombies to acquire, and new enemies to challenge. While there’s no real overarching story to follow, the game makes up for this with witty humor and fun level design. In fact, a game like Zombie Night Terror doesn’t really need a strong story, as puzzle-solving, ridiculous physics, and overall fun stand at the forefront, leaving any narrative logic at the wayside. On top of that, the game’s drive-in, 80’s horror movie look and feel have enough theatrical weight motivate players to see how each set of levels plays out.
To pose a significant challenge to the player, the game implements multi-layered and diverse level design with deadly enemies. While most humans the player comes into contact with will only serve as fuel to his zombie fire, some have a backbone and will combat the zombie horde with bats, guns, and a slew of other weapons. Furthermore, some humans offer up a considerably more thoughtful challenge, and cannot be taken out with sheer numbers alone. This is where the player must put their puzzle-solving skills to use, and utilize the destructible environments and interactive mechanisms to defeat their enemies and complete each level. Tacked onto this is a creative reward system, where some levels have additional objectives, such as keeping a certain number of zombies alive, or killing specific targets, that add a little extra variety.
Zombie Night Terror is proof that 2D sidescrolling puzzle games still have a place in today’s gaming world. By innovating on a tried and true formula, and offering up its own sense of style and creative flow, this game stands as a strong reminder of just how much fun games can be. If you’re looking for something fresh and new, then Zombie Night Terror should fit right in your wheelhouse.