Focusing on virtual reality, developer nDreams has been working hard to perfect their craft, with their most notable title so far being The Assembly. With their ambition in trying to take advantage of the technology, the title that they currently have in the hopper, Bloody Zombies, is somewhat surprising. Meant to be played on a normal monitor, with optional VR support if desired, the game almost feels representative of them stepping back, taking a deep breath and focusing on classic game design. Specifically, old school beat ’em ups.
The developer has really embraced the genre, too. While they name dropped Streets of Rage during the demo, I would have been inclined to say that it felt more like Final Fight. With zombies. Zombies that exploded when defeated with a special attack. Up to four players can choose from four characters to hit the streets to defeat the undead horde. Using a plethora of punches, kicks, grabs, and throws, beating down the hordes very much feels like a well heeled homage to the games of the 80’s and early 90’s, which is heavily appreciated by this decrepit, dusty gamer. There is also a suite of customizable special attacks to equip, which are trigger with Street Fighter-like sweeps of the directional pad and button input.
That isn’t to say that Bloody Zombies is all brawling, all the time. It’s more all brawling, most of the time. Much like Final Fight, there are sections that must be navigated with care in order to avoid environmental hazards. Why the curator of a museum decided to install spinning, spiked columns that move back and forth is a question better left to the liability lawyers, but it does break up the action a bit.
Now, this can be played perfectly fine without VR, but using a headset does have some advantages. Each level is filled with secrets that are much easier to discover in VR, as wearing the headset allows the player to look left and right to see what’s down the road, as well as up and down to see what might be above and below the level. (At the very bottom lies a spinning vortex of oblivion, for the record.) Being able to see what’s coming and having a better view of the hazards is certainly helpful, but it seems that most folks who play this game will do it without a headset. The cool thing is that it can be played locally with people both in and out of the goggles, allowing the person in the know to give a proper heads up.
With a more basic approach in game design and a multiplayer friendly attitude, Bloody Zombies looks to be a fun throwback to the days of classic cooperative gaming. Being able to customize a character’s move set adds a bit more depth to the standard arcade stylings. As this is a genre that is currently ebbing in popularity, it will be exciting to get a new 2D brawler in our hands later this year.