HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewZombies, Aliens and Guns Review

Zombies, Aliens and Guns Review

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Can a twin-stick shooter be relaxing? Ask us yesterday and we would have said no. But having played our way through Zombies, Aliens and Guns, front-to-back in one sitting, we are tempted to say yes, it absolutely can. 

It might seem like a backhanded compliment, and it’s intended that way. Because it encapsulates a lot of what we liked about Zombies, Aliens and Guns, and also what we didn’t. This is a run-and-gunner that does everything it can to make both its running and gunning simple and entertaining. It’s got nary a frustration in its two hour runtime. But it also failed to really challenge us, and its enemies rarely surprised us either. We ate it up and disposed of it like a mystery-meat burger.

Zombies Aliens and Guns review 2
There are zombies…

We should clarify that ‘rarely surprised us’ statement. Because Zombies, Aliens and Guns is very, very capable of dishing up interesting ideas. Take the way the game is structured, for example: instead of selecting a level and strutting in, you’re strapped in for a rollercoaster. Each level follows thematically from the last (we’d hesitate to call it a story, as there’s not much in that way of plot or dialogue), but there’s no stopping for breath, and what you do in each level is surprisingly varied. In one level you can be hunting for hostages, while another will put you in the back of a boat, firing at zombies that splash towards you. It’s got a relentlessness that’s really endearing.

The lack of surprise is very much pointed at the enemies. Zombies, Aliens and Guns doesn’t have a huge number of them, and it’s eager to show you them from the get-go. Dozens of levels pass without a new enemy added, and we felt like it was a slightly too realistic interpretation of a zombie infestation: mowing down hordes of faceless enemies without really changing much about how we did it.

Not that shooting the zombies isn’t fun. Zombies, Aliens and Guns takes the approach of making 90% of them one-shottable. You might be surrounded by a hundred zombies, but you can thin them out pretty quickly with a shotgun (a gun that we started out hating, but soon learned was fab once we stopped holding the trigger down). They pop in a fountain of claret, making you feel unutterably cool as a result. Very rarely do you get bogged down in Zombies, Aliens and Guns, and that gives it a slick momentum. You’re tobogganing through the dead.

Zombies Aliens and Guns review 1
There are aliens…

But here comes the backhandedness again. Because while it is enjoyable, it’s not varied. Even the more gnarly enemies, such as a Creeper-like dude who fires in a circle around itself and an alien who swoops in on a UFO are defeated in largely the same manner: you need to strafe around in a circle. It’s a tale as old as twin-stick time, but we longed for just a little more depth.

And it’s not challenging – at least not for the greatest proportion of levels. Bosses are easy (and sometimes duplicated) but the encounter is stretched out through long life bars. Enemies are only really challenging if they surprise you (all too possible with a zoomed-in camera that makes zombies coming from the south, in particular, late to spot) and if there’s a lot of them. They’re the only levers that Zombies, Aliens and Guns can use to introduce difficulty spikes.

Actually, scratch that, Zombies, Aliens and Guns can be difficult in one unintended way. It’s particularly poor at telling you what you need to do. Sure, an arrow nudges you in certain directions, but important information is neglected. Are enemies infinite? In some levels they are, and it takes a little time (and some health) before you might realise whether it’s the case in a given level. In one level, we were escorting a train, protecting it from zombies, only to realise – after the third retry – that we were meant to destroy the train. You could have given us a clue, Zombies, Aliens and Guns.

The thing is, as we look up from writing, we realise that we’ve painted a pretty bleak picture of Zombies, Aliens and Guns. And that’s unfair, because it’s downplaying the sheer breeziness of it. Killing zombies, no matter how continuously, does plaster a big old smile onto the face. We wouldn’t say that it doesn’t get old, but it’s close. And the constant switching up of the levels means that there’s rarely a dull moment. Vehicle stages, bosses and various flavours of escort mission are all packed into a reasonably stuffed suitcase.

Zombies Aliens and Guns review 3
And there are guns!

Which is to say that we blitzed through Zombies, Aliens and Guns in one go. And that’s rarely a negative, particularly for a game that is medium-sized rather than short. It must be doing something right, then, and no amount of faceless zombies can smother that. 

In zombie media terms, then, Zombies, Aliens and Guns isn’t ponderous like a Walking Dead, funny like a Shaun of the Dead or cerebral like a Last of Us. Instead, it’s a big, dumb Army of the Dead, and it will be just as forgettable once it’s over. If you like your zombie-killing easy and brainless then Zombies, Aliens and Guns will scratch an open wound.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Neat 2.5D viewpoint
  • Has a barrelling momentum
  • Basic shooting feels great
Cons:
  • Can’t find enough variation in its enemies
  • Bosses are sponges that often repeat
  • Surprisingly unclear what you need to do
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Ratalaika Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 26 April 2024 | £TBC
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Neat 2.5D viewpoint</li> <li>Has a barrelling momentum</li> <li>Basic shooting feels great</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Can’t find enough variation in its enemies</li> <li>Bosses are sponges that often repeat</li> <li>Surprisingly unclear what you need to do</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Ratalaika Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 26 April 2024 | £TBC</li> </ul>Zombies, Aliens and Guns Review
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