Been showing off the Wii U today, and as part of this process I decided to pick up a game I’ve been meaning to give a shot for a while — Ubisoft’s ZombiU. So far it seems to be an interesting game, for sure, albeit not one without a few glaring problems, not least of which is a game-breaking bug relatively early in to the whole experience.
For those who have never encountered this Wii U exclusive, the best means of describing it is probably to use that tired old analogy: saying it’s “the Dark Souls of [x]“, where [x], in this case, is survival horror.
For once, though, that statement isn’t altogether inaccurate, since so far as I can make out from what I’ve played so far, ZombiU simply is Dark Souls, albeit presented from a first-person perspective and set in modern-day London rather than From Software’s dark fantasy classic. It has all the trappings of Dark Souls’ basic gameplay — combat that’s rather more methodical and careful than your typical action game, in which it’s easy to become overwhelmed if you try and face off against too many enemies at once; online connectivity allowing you to write messages on the walls for other players to find; and the fact that death is an inconvenience that you can overcome to a certain extent if you can only get back to the point you died — and, in this case, defeat your former self, who has, naturally, become a zombie in the intervening period. (That is, unless you’re playing the rather brutal Survival mode, in which you only have a single life in which to get as far as you can.)
It’s an intriguing game, and an effective example of how the Wii U’s unique features can be used to enhance a game experience. While the majority of the action unfolds on the TV screen, things like looting bodies and searching containers is done on the GamePad screen, leaving you vulnerable to attack while you do so — just as you would be if you stopped to rifle through your own bag. Furthermore, you can use the GamePad as a means of scanning the area and marking points of interest, which subsequently show up on your main screen and map as markers.
It’s also a decent example of survival horror done well. By keeping the TV screen clutter to a minimum — there’s very little in the way of HUD, and you have to look down at the GamePad to check your ammo — it provides a nicely immersive experience, and allows for wonderful, authentic “horror” moments such as pointing your gun at an incoming zombie, pulling the trigger and hearing that awful sound: click. There are some nice touches with the various characters you play as, too, such as certain characters obviously being terrified of the situation in which they find themselves, while others appear to take it in their stride.
I’m not 100% sure on whether it’s quite my sort of game just yet, but I’m certainly willing to give it a go, and even if I end up not wanting to beat it I only paid £12.99 for it as a preowned copy, so I don’t mind too much. There’s also an intriguing-sounding multiplayer mode that I’d like to give a try.
So, game-breaking bugs aside — don’t die while escaping from the supermarket in the early stages of the game! — it appears to be a solid experience, and one of the more interesting Wii U exclusives available.