I don’t think zombies will ever move away from mainstream popular culture, as the general public just seem to love everything about these brain-eating, dead-eyed monsters. However, it has to be said that the zombie apocalypse usually lands between two camps; on the one hand we have the serious adventure movie or TV programme like that of The Walking Dead or World War Z. Yet on the flip-side there are the comedic additions – Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning definitely falls into the latter category as it takes us gamers on a foul-mouthed weird journey that focuses on the experiences of a rabbit and a dog. Confused? You should be.
Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning runs as a mix of point and click adventure with some deep inventory management thrown in, adding dialogue tree choices and some tiny mini-games, for good measure. The game is set in a cartoon-styled world very much in the line of Family Guy and Ren and Stimpy, just here we come across clothed animals that manage to act like us humans, complete with race issues, anxieties and flaws. Our heroes are a retired insurance salesman called Hank who is a grumpy, belligerent rabbit, and his best friend and stooge, a small dog called Larry. Holed up in the flat of Larry they live through the start of the zombie apocalypse for four months, eating all the food and booze, and taking in the drugs that Larry has been storing. Now though they have exhausted their supplies and it’s time to venture out into the world…
The story, characters, and the narrative are all things you’re going to either massively enjoy, or are going to absolutely hate; it’s certainly very marmite-ish. If you find yourself running the latter route then that would be a huge shame because the dialogue and narrative make up a good 80% of the actual game itself. And this is certainly a game that comes with a humorous take on the world, just sometimes that humor is very adult-orientated and at times pushes the boundaries of good taste. But I have personally enjoyed the writing and characters created by the developers and it’s been a joy to take in the great personas and nice observation comedy moments that deliver a ton of pop culture references. Yes, sometimes the dialogue scenes go on for a bit too long and they really could do with a bit of edit, but overall Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning provides a nice world that is worth experiencing.
The gameplay is however, simple to say the very least. The main bulk of it runs around dialogue choices which will determine if your friends live or die. You don’t get to move around much, except for one specific section that is set in a camp, but the main aim of matters is to help the hapless duo find potential scavengers on the street, persuading them to go and get some loot for them. You then watch things play out via a periscope from the safety of your van, guiding the scavenger around the specific stores.
There is also a specific system for collecting the loot, be it medicine, booze or even rare books, sharing the loot according to the percentage you agreed with the scavenger. If truth be told though, there isn’t much of a game to be played here at all. In the scavenger scenes, you just watch the action take place in front of you and then manage what is gained by selecting want you want to keep. I don’t understand why you need all the loot and how the value of it is important, and even though it has some sort of payoff at the end, there is not enough reason to worry about it when you take into account the amount of detail the game puts on it.
Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning on Xbox One embraces the cartoony visual tone with some great character designs and locations. The world doesn’t ever feel as dynamic as many other games, but instead manages to come across as something more akin to a comic book, with characters occasionally moving and reacting. In terms of the audio and it comes with some decent soundtrack elements and effects, but mainly it’s all about the voice over. There are just six actors who cover all the roles, but they all do a great job of voicing the animals with humour and wit.
As with the titular nature of the game, Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning works as the first in a series of stories following an idiot dog and grumpy rabbit, finishing at a point that feels like a chapter ending rather than a story finishing. I hope the next instalment expands upon the gameplay elements and makes good use of all the looting management that has to be taken in. It also needs to up the stakes in the story so it’s not just a retread of what we’ve seen before, however for a game that’s just a couple of hours long, and costs less than a fiver to get hold of, it just about caters for those who wish to take a gamble on surviving another zombie apocalypse.