You know how nearly all mobile games have that same UI look and feel about them, allowing you to instantly tell that a game has been designed for mobile over a console? Yeah, that. You know, big icons for you to press with your fingers and superfluous options like settings and credits tucked away in the corner.
Zombie Derby: Pixel Survival has exactly that UI, so much so that you can pretty much conjure it up in your imagination now and be right on the money with how it looks. It does however give each oversized icon an Xbox button prompt to make things easier. Does it also flesh out the gameplay from a free-to-play mobile title to a console game? Well…
Another day, another zombie apocalypse to contend with. And whilst survival is the aim of the day, you can at least afford to have some fun with this version of the walking dead. Zombie Derby: Pixel Survival is a 2.5D side-scrolling driving game where your car is also your primary weapon, utilised for some zombie culling. You’ll get to deck it out with the best mounted guns, armour and more to get from A to B, whilst mowing down as many zombies as you can.
Zombies are the least of your worries though as the roads are filled with many other blockages too. Potholes the size of several cars, mines, exploding barrels, other cars, boxes and more will take a huge chunk out of your car’s defence. If your defence reaches zero, that run is over, and it is back to the beginning.
It’s here where you’ll need to collect bolts from killing zombies and spend time completing objectives in order to upgrade your car. The tutorial level will set the scene for how the rest of the game will likely go: Start a run on a level, kill zombies and blow through obstacles until you reach the next gate-keeping obstacle, fail the run, go back to the garage to upgrade and then try again. Rinse and repeat.
Sometimes the gate-keeping obstacle may be a gap too large to jump, requiring an extra nitro, or a hill too steep to climb without additional traction or engine power. Every time though, those game-enders feel like cheap methods to elongate a relatively short game. Sure, it is essentially a roguelite, but it feels like a roguelite with very cheap tactics. Zombie Derby: Pixel Survival also oozes that free-to-play game type: fun in short bursts when on a bus, but lacking any real substance.
Completing a level awards you with a new car. You may think you can power through the game’s ten or so levels with a fully levelled up starting car, but this will only get you so far. It won’t be long before you have to dip your hands in your pockets to then upgrade another car to the max level to get through the next couple of levels. And then guess what? You will need to do it again.
Each level also has three stars to unlock, based on your performance. There are three objectives for each level: killing every zombie in a level, killing the flying birds hidden away somewhere, and a third objective that I need to clarify with you. On level one, you can clearly see what appears to be the widely accepted logo for ‘replay’. Does this mean you just need to replay the level for the final objective? I’m afraid not. What it actually means is you need to do a backflip in your car. Those continuously replaying the level to unlock this objective, can thank me later.
Sometimes, this objective changes to doing a frontflip, and the arrow itself is flipped over. It could be somewhat better explained though, or use a symbol that is universally accepted to mean something else entirely.
Along with the price and attempt at roguelite elements, another area Zombie Derby: Pixel Survival feels cheap is in the Xbox achievements, though some people out there will happily lap this game up now. It has a full 1000G that you can unlock in around thirty minutes. There is nothing difficult at all in the achievement list and you could have 600G by the time you finish the first level properly. The most difficult achievement will be for earning three stars in one level, but now that you know a backflip is required, all difficulty has been removed.
Fun for only the briefest of moments, Zombie Derby: Pixel Survival is on the Xbox Store for one reason and one reason only: to boost Gamerscores on the cheap. There is a game here, but it isn’t very good, and while there are reasons to replay a level, they can be confusing. There are also roguelite elements, but they are very cheap and so that leaves us with the Gamerscore; something that can be picked up extremely easily.
Zombie Derby: Pixel Survival focuses on mobile-style gaming and easy Gamerscore collection, but is all but devoid of the most basic requirement: fun.
Zombie Derby: Pixel Survival is on the Xbox Store
- Easy Gamerscore
- It’s cheap
- And it works
- Bereft of actual fun
- Cheap rogue-lite tactics
- Confusing symbology
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Brinemedia
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
- Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 9 March 2023
- Launch price from - £4.19