By: Jeff Cater
Just one look at this game and you can instantly tell it was the same studio, Zoink Games, that made Stick it to The Man. In their latest venture, Zombie Vikings, we step into the boots of the risen dead Vikings Seagurd, Hedgy, Cacaw and Gunborg. Your quest? To redeem Odin‘s pride, stolen by the prankster Loki!
Zombie Vikings is a side-scrolling smash fest, so you’ll mash the face buttons quite a bit. You can string together Square and Triangle attacks, and unleash two variants of your super by pressing or holding Circle. Jumping over and onto obstacles is done with X, but that can feel a bit wonky.
That’s because movement doesn’t feel fully omnidirectional, and you’ll slide at odd angles as you engage and chase enemies. It tends to get really noticeable when engaged against multiple enemies, which, due to the nature of the game, happens a lot. Thankfully a lot of the super attacks tend to attack a wider arc, but simply spamming the special move over and over gets boring.
Even looking at screenshots is amazing, and shortly after starting the game Zoink makes it clear that they know how to create a visual masterpiece. Everything on screen looks carefully brushed, or perhaps that of an extravagant oil painting. Zombie Vikings will wow you with a bright color scheme that shines through the otherwise dreary setting.
Of course, the setting changes later on just as much as the detailed enemies. The four selectable characters all feature wonderful animation, especially during their super moves. My favorite of the bunch was Seagurd’s tentacle surprise attack, because it’s not only hilarious but can really save your rotting behind.
I may be in a minority, but I feel the vocals are a bit forced, and this can take a lot of humor out of the jokes — which are often very funny. The music fits the theme well and ramps accordingly to the chaos on the screen, so there’s no worry about that. It’s just those voice actors just gave a bit too much.
Zombie Vikings, as a solo experience at least, is pretty uniform when it comes to a platforming beat ’em up. Upon Odin’s orders, the four Zombie Vikings venture off on a humorous journey to reclaim his other eye.
There’s nothing really pushing the genre forward here, but it is an effective beat ’em up. As often as you’ll find yourself beating up hordes of strung together foes, you’ll have to run your saggy bum away from gigantic monsters and dodge a library of projectiles.
You can play the main campaign solo or with a friend on your couch, and there is also a Brawl mode where you can just bop one another for pride’s sake. The real fun does indeed lie in the couch co-op mode, as you all gain gold for upgrades by working with one another to down your enemies, but you’ll suddenly find yourself smacking your friend out of the way to nab the end-level prize just before they can. Nothing quite punch inducing, but you might get a glare or two.
I have high hopes for this studio, because one day they will refine their core gameplay mechanics like they do their visuals, and then we’re going to have an absolute golden egg. Zombie Vikings offers a lighthearted experience that is pretty safe for most ages and a good time locally with a friend, but it’s nothing special.