Zombie games have been done to death up to this point. Then again, that’s not to say there are no good ones out there anymore, far from it. Anthony Karlov of Ant.Karlov Games has been making small-name browser games for over 14 years now, but none of them compare to his first ever premium title: Zombotron. Never mind the corny title; what you get is a delightfully tricky romp through an undead-infested alien planet.
Zombotron almost looks like something out of a comic book. The art style is charming and colourful, while the enemy designs are nothing short of creative. Things like fiery explosions, streaks of blood and light reflecting off surfaces make each setting particularly eye-catching. In short, it’s a fantastic looking game. Plus, it runs at a silky-smooth framerate, the controls feel slick and precise.
You’ll progress through a fairly-linear sequence of multi-layered levels, traversing across bridges and riding lifts around each of the danger-filled zones. A nice feature in the game is that you can use things like bridges and rubble to your advantage, as they can squash enemies when dropped from a high height, or can help you reach secret areas. Be sure to keep an eye out for checkpoints, too. Dying will send you back to the beginning of the area, which is fair but frustrating, though activating said checkpoints will offer you a few free respawns. It’s good that it doesn’t undermine the difficulty on the whole.
The game’s arsenal consist of hard-hitting melee weapons, a selection of satisfying guns, and various types of grenades. You can protect yourself by wearing a helmet, some armour, and boots, each of which have their own unique stats and abilities. Your inventory can only take up so much space, but you can sell ‘em on the fly before buying other items sold in containers, of which appear sporadically. Annoyingly, when you stumble across a weapon or piece of clothing, you can’t see what their stats or special effects are until it’s in your inventory. The loot you find is randomly generated, which keeps things fresh.
Zombies, robots and bandits come in droves. They soak up and dish out a lot of damage; since healing items refill your HP bar at a slow rate, fighting them can be a struggle. Good thing you can pop their heads or smack them down for major damage. They’re smart enough to destroy obstacles or leap onto platforms while in pursuit, as well. Dead enemies drop XP to level up Blaze, where you can increase his strength, dexterity and vitality. Levelling up is a bit of a slow process, and there are no additional ways to earn more XP in order to curb this. At least it feels like the enemies you encounter in later levels aren’t outranking you.
So, generally speaking, the gameplay is actually pretty damn solid. The’re plenty of nifty gear and consumables to come across, and the light-RPG elements add more flair to the experience. Alas, like a shambling revenant with a missing leg, it most notably falls flat on its face when it comes to boss battles. As terrifying as they may look, they’re nothing but bullet-sponges with predictable attack patterns. To make matters worse, they’re keen on summoning their underlings to swarm you. Best thing to do is to stay out of their range and empty your clips into their face. The obligatory vehicle section that you’ll take part in halfway through is not particularly challenging, but there’s a bit of fun to be had from squishing things under your wheels, like a petrolhead power fantasy.
Zombotron is damn good stuff. Hopping around its beautifully-designed jungles, bases and mines while splattering everything in your path is a heap of fun, and the plentiful amounts of loot on offer go hand-in-hand with the RPG elements that sweeten the deal. Its difficulty works in its favour, though it’s a shame that the boss battles are a real slog to get through. One can only hope that things like additional game modes and quicker ways to fill the XP bar would work in its favour, too. In spite of its shortcomings, Zombotron is proof that zombie games are far from being one foot in the grave.
Check out Zombotron on Steam here. If you’ve tried the game, be sure to share your thoughts about it in the comment section below!