Founded in 2006, Ukrainian developer Beatshapers has never had a game on a Microsoft console. In fact, for most of their 10 years so far their previous work has been with Microsoft's main rival, Sony. Twin-stick shooter #KILLALLZOMBIES
was no different at the start, debuting on Sony's Playstation 4 back in 2014. However, this time the game has made its way to Xbox One after nearly two years, so how does the developer's debut on Xbox stack up?
Pictured: All the zombies
There's only one objective in #KILLALLZOMBIES
. Yes, as you may have gathered from the title, it is to kill all zombies, or as many as humanly possible. There is no name for your character and no story of which to speak, just you lasting as long as you can against the zombie horde. You accomplish that goal with a simple set of controls. As you'd expect from a twin-stick shooter,
is how you move and you use
will reload your gun while
allows you to melee. Finally,
will allow you to choose a new perk upon levelling up. This simplicity is to the game's benefit as it ensures that there is no confusion possible even when surrounded by masses of zombies.
Players begin with the choice of a pistol and revolver. As you progress, you'll find yourself unlocking access to weapons including crossbows, flare guns and plasma guns with each gun having its own strengths and weaknesses. Using those starting two as a quick example, the pistol fires faster, but the revolver does more damage and can take out multiple zombies at once. While each weapon fires as expected, some guns are clearly better than others -- the game itself states as much -- and accessing these better weapons ultimately becomes a necessity to continue against the ever-growing zombie horde.
One way that you can access these weapons during a run is via the game's levelling up system. This is a simple process where killing zombies will be the player's main source of EXP. In turn this will earn levels, with exponentially more EXP needed to reach higher levels. Every time that you level up, you'll have the opportunity to choose from one of four random perks. Lasting anywhere from a short amount of time to the entirety of that run, these perks are almost always a boost and can range from simply getting a better weapon to a coin-flip between death and a big amount of EXP. There are even visual changes that alter the style of the game to look like Sin City
As well as levelling up, Twitch streamers of the game can allow people in their chat to affect their run in a multitude of ways, both positively and negatively. By inserting commands in chat from a set list, the game can instantly change whether in the form of boosts like instantaneous level ups that can help increase the player's chance of survival, or drawbacks like spawning more zombies to make it more to difficult. Viewers can even include run-ending commands like instant death. Each command has its own separate cooldown time to combat spamming, but this also helps the game to avoid becoming too easy or too difficult in either direction. Overall it is a fine idea, albeit one that may be limited in use outside of those with an established audience.
While perhaps difficult to see in, it does look fairly stylish when shots are flying
Unfortunately, we go from a positive to the negatives now and while a game being difficult is not inherently negative, there is a fine line between a satisfying challenge to overcome and unfairness, with #KILLALLZOMBIES
falling squarely in the latter camp. Starting off with a small smattering of zombies in the player's vicinity, the game quickly ramps up the amount of zombies and turns the game into a battle of attrition at too quick a pace. While the aforementioned perks are mostly beneficial, the game's rapid increase in difficulty means that instead of being a nice extra boost to the player for their skill, they are instead relied upon to make any meaningful progression into the game. All of that combined with randomised nature of the perks system, most runs feel like they are lost because the game has blocked them from doing well, not because of any fault of the player. All that this does is lead to lots of frustration when runs are over before they really have a chance to get going.
In addition, while there is a variety in the weapons and perks there's a lack of variety almost everywhere else, beginning with the enemies. There are a few bosses in the game but they are rarely seen, meaning that the majority of the player's time is spent looking at the same dull enemies. This dullness extends to the maps themselves, too. The layouts are actually randomised, but the differences are only seen on the outskirts of the map and the majority are fairly drab regardless. Nobody is expecting Viva Pinata
levels of colour in a game about killing zombies, but the majority of the time this does leave the game looking rather uninspired.
Feast your eyes upon Nyan Cat while you can, because it's one of only a few times you'll see something different
There's not much diversity in any of the game's three modes either. Survival mode tasks players with surviving for as long as possible. Vault Defence means that players must defend a vault for as long as possible. Co-operative mode is a survival mode for two people, either locally or online. Basically, the only difference is that vault defence means that the players stays close to one place for the majority of the time.
Much like the game itself, gaining all of the achievements will prove extremely difficult. While the majority will come simply with an extended amount of time in the game, like the ones for 1,000 kills with each gun in the game, some may prove impossible for anyone bar the very best. From lasting six minutes without shooting to earning 10 million EXP in one run, only those with the utmost skill and patience will earn - and we mean earn in its truest sense of the word - the full 1000G on offer.
There's a reasonably enjoyable game at #KILLALLZOMBIES' core, which makes it such a shame that it is mired by a variety of issues. A good mix of weapons and perks, as well as Twitch integration to include a wider audience, are ultimately bogged down by a combination of a tough difficulty curve, a reliance on luck to make meaningful progress, and mostly drab visuals that will turn most players off sooner rather than later. This game is probably only for enthusiasts of the twin-stick shooter genre or for those with a large enough streaming audience to keep the game interesting.
- Simple, smooth controls
- Good variety of guns and perks
- Twitch integration adds an extra bit of variety
- Difficulty is unfair as opposed to satisfying
- Dependence on luck to make progress
- Drab visuals
The reviewer spent roughly 4 hours and met the requirements for 5 of the game's 21 achievements, most of which were for killing zombies with a variety of weapons. Unfortunately, Xbox Live issues means that none of them have unlocked upon the time of writing. A code for the game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.