Side-scrolling brawlers were the cornerstone of the arcade industry, but have become a rare commodity in recent years. Developer Paw Print Games with publisher nDreams are bringing a four-player cooperative brawler to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. With London being overrun by hordes of mutated zombies, you are the last hope to save the city. By itself, Bloody Zombies is an enjoyable trip down the classic genre, complete with swappable special attacks and a touch of humor. However, the support of VR headsets is what truly blew me away at E3 2017.
Paw Print Games has ensured that Bloody Zombies can be played in 2D or virtual reality (VR, providing a solid gameplay experience either way. The game supports any combination of four local or online players. It doesn’t matter if only one player (obviously locally is limited to a single VR headset) or three players are using VR headsets. The game feels unique when I strapped on the Oculus Rift headset and was handed the wired Xbox 360 controller hooked up to the PC powering the game. From the enemies to the colorful cast of characters, everything pops in a new dimension. It almost felt like I was inside a diorama, watching 2D cut outs moving about the screen.
VR players also have a key advantage over those playing on a television or a monitor; being able to see the entire stage. A simple turn of the head is all it takes for you to gaze at the current level in its entirety. This means that you can give the other players a heads up if they are coming close to the end, a large group of enemies, or a boss character. As I played the game with the developers and Mike, I found myself as the VR player for an entire level. At one point, we broke through a tight corridor, and those playing on the social screen were unable to see the giant spinning blades ready to pounce on us. I tried warning them, but it was too late, and a level pull later we were all running away with great haste.
While the visuals are quite charming, I found the combat mechanics enthralling. Outside of standard punches, kicks, and jump attacks, players can pick up objects, such as swords to take care of the zombies. Crates and boxes hide these items and also new abilities. From launchers, and downward smashes, each character allows for many abilities to be swapped in at any time. Bloody Zombies also includes plenty of hidden/secret areas. Subtle arrows point players in the direction of some, but others may require you to toss a grenade through a small opening to destroy a nearby barrier. Social screen players, at least locally, must stick together, but VR players are free to roam the level as the wish. This comes in handy when you find a secret location that takes you across the current environment.
Bloody Zombies is set to release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, supporting PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive.