These days, local co-op games are becoming harder and harder to find. The integration of online multiplayer has turned the industry in the complete opposite direction by making the game mode redundant. Why would I want to play games at your house when I can do the same thing at mine and talk to you through Skype? Zombie Vikings, developed by Zoink Games, answers this question fairly simply: because it’s great fun.
Endure The Undead
Zombie Vikings is a 1-4 player hack’n’slash brawler that will remind you of Castle Crashers at every turn, but offers a fistful of style and a hilariously ridiculous story that will keep you coming back for hours. But while Zombie Vikings is an enjoyable experience, and a fairly rare one with the dying breed of local co-op, it is by no means perfect.
Zombie Vikings has style dripping from every part of its corpse. The art-style allows the game a quirky vibe while hiding the off-putting nature of 2D sprites on a 3D plane. The cute design of characters facilitates the comic attitude that Zombie Vikings exudes through the dialogue and story points. Adding to this strikingly unique visual aesthetic is an astounding score. Zombie Vikings has some of the best music I’ve heard from a modern game. It accomplishes a fun atmosphere in which players can relax, but also pumps you up when you’re fighting enemies to make sure you’re always hungry for more brains.
To ensure that your hunger is satiated, Zombie Vikings’ combat is fluid and satisfying. There are 4 playable main characters in the game, each of which have unique fighting styles and thematic specials. Similar to Castle Crashers in moment to moment gameplay, Zombie Vikings outclasses its predecessor by introducing amusing combat mechanics that consistently revitalize the monotonous nature of the game.
All playable characters have their own merits and never feel useless. You have the ability to buy swords and runes through in-game currency which transform your on-hit and passive effects respectively. Unfortunately, while there are many choices, the items did not seem to get as much care as the characters because most of them are garbage. I found myself using the same sword and same rune for the entirety of the game because any of the others would have put me at a severe disadvantage.
Mini (lame) Games
However, the redundancy of Zombie Vikings’ customization did not deter me from eagerly wanting to return to its combat. All I wanted to do was fight enemies, hoard after hoard. Lamentably, Zombie Vikings forces you into arbitrary mini-games that serve only to frustrate the player before putting you back into the fray of the battle.
At one point, after running from an angry hoard of villagers in a Temple Run-esque fashion, I was thrown into a pit and forced to dodge explosive fish poop, pick it up, and throw it at a statue. I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to do any of it. I just wanted to fight another hoard of enemies because that’s what I signed up for when I booted up a brawler.
Zombie Vikings does not include AI teammates. Frustration becomes a given when you consider that enemies do not scale in HP or quantity with the amount of players present in the party. This creates an extremely challenging game for players who want to, or have to, play solo while co-op players can enjoy a fairly casual experience. Now, you may ask why a solo player wouldn’t just team up with people online. This is because, at the current moment, the online is broken, along with many other aspects of the game.
While Zombie Vikings’ core mechanics are solid, the issues that plague this title are on a superficial level. Regrettably, Zombie Vikings is also victim to the host of technical issues that every new game seems to ship with. The framerate will noticeably dip on occasion, the screen will consistently tear, there are a myriad of game-breaking bugs that force you to restart a level half way through, online matchmaking will continually boot you out of lobbies, and online co-op is unplayable due it not showing half the actions that you and your teammates employ.
Some examples of these bugs follow: at times there are items that you require for puzzles that will not load in, sporadically you’ll be spawned inside a wall (in which case you have to exit the level and restart), and occasionally you’ll be spawned with 1 HP if you die to a certain boss more than once.
All of these problems can, and should, be fixed by incoming patches, but proper QA should have taken place prior to the Zombie Vikings’ release. This shows either a lack of care by the developer, or it is an unfortunate consequence of rushing.
In conclusion, Zombie Vikings is a great game that faces a heaping number of technical issues. The game lacks meaningful customization, but balances it out with interesting and unique characters. The combat is enjoyable, the atmosphere is inviting, and the jokes are funny, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of polish.
written by Himanshu Talwar
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