From the company that brought us the weird and wonderful Stick It To The Man, Zoink! Games are back and this time with Vikings, Zombie Vikings. Play as one of four characters and help Odin retrieve his one remaining good eyeball, stolen by the evil Loki. We join this rancid foursome across 25 levels, spanning eight different worlds, collecting over 40 weapons, fighting off everything from worms, cats and even normal living Vikings. Play alone or play with up to four friends and get back that man’s eye or die trying. Well, die again anyway.
The premise of Zombie Vikings is weird from the very beginning, but luckily the game does address this – it doesn’t take itself too seriously, which adds to its charm. It has hilarious music when you pause the game, very much like elevator music, and has an enthusiastic singer belting the words “ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a pause”. Also, when you hit a side quest in the game, the words ‘side quest’ appear on screen and a choir exclaims “side quest”. Yep, there’s plenty of humour coming from Zoink! Games.
Like its predecessor, Stick It To The Man, Zombie Vikings has a quirky, comic book style art direction and it is executed beautifully. To put it simply, the game looks great. Each character model, background and animation looks hand drawn and gives the game real character and instantly drew me in, no pun intended. It’s very bright and aesthetically pleasing, considering you do play in some disgusting locations such as the intestines of a Midgaard Serpent. The rotting flesh and barely attached limbs are a joy to behold, especially when you are pulling off ridiculous combo moves to defeat hordes of monsters.
At the beginning of each level you get to pick between four characters; Gunborg, Seagurd, Hedgy and Caw-kaa. This gives the game lots of variety as you are never stuck with the same character for too long and means you can keep switching between the Vikings until you find which one works best for you. Each Viking has their own perks, their own play style and their own signature special move/power. Seagurd, for example, is half squid which allows him to extend his tentacles and throw enemies across the map, hurling them towards the other person you are playing with, or to just buy yourself some time if you are getting overwhelmed. Across each level you can collect coins and gold which can be used to purchase upgraded weapons, which have better attacking power, increase your health or add speed. You can also buy Runes, which can give you perks such as more health throughout the level. Luckily there are over 40 weapons to collect through this seven hour game, which was enough to keep me occupied and always wonder which new ridiculous item I could get my decomposing mitts on.
The game does class itself as a comedy, but sadly a lot of the jokes do fall flat, I mean really flat. I had the odd smirk here and there but it constantly used very juvenile, simple humour that would only really appeal to very young kids. As an adult I like a well written, well executed, clever joke and sadly Zombie Vikings never managed this. They do reference things like buying items in the game through Amazon, which is funny seeing games reference modern culture, but I would definitely say it didn’t have me in stitches, at all. The voice acting itself is pretty good, it’s just the material that really lets it down.
Sadly, the gameplay itself also gets very old, very fast, and towards the end I found myself just wanting to get the end of the level and get the game over with, which is a real shame as there is so much more the game could have done. Yes, the environments do change drastically and there are a lot of them, but you often find yourself just pressing the same two buttons again and again to beat the ever present enemies. This is made worse by the dull soundtrack that accompanies the game, I wanted something a bit more dramatic and empowering. Being Vikings and all – who are regarded as fearsome and aggressive – I wanted the music to represent that, but it just kept falling flat.
Zombie Vikings does always encourage team play and you and up to four friends can join forces and play together. You can work as a team when playing with friends and throw each other to certain parts of the map you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. That is a great addition, and you can also throw team members at enemies and hit them with a harder blow. This element was great at first, but then you just find you and your friends completing the same tasks, hacking and slashing enemies in this brawler style game, over and over again. As stated before, the game does get very repetitive, it never claims to re-invent the wheel but it certainly doesn’t bring anything new and exciting to the table. In regards to playing with friends, you can always play Arena Mode, running like Super Smash Bros, all set across 11 different arenas as you battle it out to see who is the greatest Viking of them all!
Overall, Zombie Vikings is a fun game for the first few hours. It is a joy to look at as the art style is, as expected from Zoink! Games, stunning. Sadly the story wasn’t exciting enough to keep me gripped and the jokes always fell flat, which was a shame. Luckily, being priced at only £9.59 on the Xbox Store, it is a cheap game to pick up and play with friends, but I definitely won’t be rushing to tell all my mates about it.