[Review] OMG Zombies! – Nintendo Switch

Written by porkpants
  • Developer: Laughing Jackal LTD.
  • Publisher: Ghostlight
  • Release Date: 26/03/2019
  • Price: £3.99 / $4.99
  • Rating: PEGI 3 / Teen – Blood and Gore, Violence
  • Review Code provided by Ghostlight

Introduction:

Zombie-based movies and games usually have the zombie infestation start in a few common ways, being raised from dead, a virus outbreak, demon intervention with Earth, and like OMG Zombies! fungus can control dead bodies. The game starts off with a very well-drawn graphic novel type story line. It’s a pretty standard Zombie story, the fungus was shown to reanimate dead critters in the lab, but didn’t have an effect on people….until of course they’re moving a child that appears to be dead out of their lab. The child is the younger brother of a guy who shows up to rescue him, as you could probably guess, the boy wakes up, bites his brother, and lo-and-behold zombies start spreading. There is another section of graphic novel story panels when you get to the end of the levels but I won’t spoil that one…

OMG Zombies! is a re-make of the 2011 PC & Playstation game OMG-Z that featured 81 levels and only 5 types of zombies. OMG-Z was very well-received and OMG Zombies! was released in February 2014 on Steam prior to being brought to the Nintendo Switch.

Graphic Novel story panel

The game features 100 different levels that are unlocked in a pyramid fashion by completing the previous levels. Across the 100 levels you fight zombies in 40 different unique environments including ruined buildings, crash sites, schools, and a helicopter pad to name a few. There are eight different varieties of zombies (Civilian, Bloated, Cop, Soldier, Bilious, Mortar, Runner, and Zapper) and each variety of zombie has a different death effect that can start or continue the chain reaction to kill as many as possible.

Gameplay:

Gameplay in OMG Zombies is unique in that it’s not just a simple kill all the zombies as quickly as possible or before you die, the game is more of a puzzle type experience where you have a limited number of bullets and the main goal is to use the different zombie’s death abilities to create a chain reaction that will kill more zombies or explode barrels and continue the chain. Starting the game off your rifle will only have 3 shots, so the goal of each level is to kill as many zombies with those limited shots as possible. The first levels are simple and only have civilian zombies, these guys will create a small “blast” when killed and will damage or kill nearby zombies. The tactic here is to shoot at a group and watch them all explode. Each zombie has a different death attack to kill more zombies:

  • Civilian – Creates a small explosion that will damage nearby zombies
  • Bloated – Larger explosion than civilians, they usually have more health.
  • Cop – Fires a bullet in the direction it was facing, can be upgraded to pierce.
  • Soldier – Fires multiple bullets in the general direction it was facing, can be upgraded to ricochet.
  • Bilious – Creates a pool of poison/acid on the ground that will damage zombies walking through it.
  • Mortar – Launches its brain into the air to a random spot on the map will damage zombies where it lands.
  • Runner – Will dash in the direction facing and explode with similar strength to the civilian.
  • Zapper – Sends an electrical bolt in a random direction and will damage a zombie if connected to it.
Different zombies show up as different colors with an optional filter

Later levels will feature multiple different types of zombies so careful planning and thought is needed to get as close to 100% as possible. There is also a filter option in the game that will color each zombie type differently, so you can plan your shots accordingly. Some levels will also have exploding barrels placed throughout which will set zombies within a certain radius on fire and damage them over time, other zombie explosions or effects can trigger barrels as well.

One element that was frustrating in this game was the reliance on luck to do well in a level. This is especially apparent in levels with the zapper, cop, and mortar zombies. Zapper and mortars target a random direction or spot on the map so it’s possible to have a mortar’s brain land right in the middle of a group of zombies, or it could land in the middle of nowhere and not do any additional damage at all. This reliance on luck can sometimes make it difficult to know if you just got unlucky or if you must buy some more upgrades to finish a level.

Each level screen shows the level you play on and the breakdown of zombies found in the level

You will be awarded a medal at the end of the level based on the percentage of zombies killed; platinum for 100%, gold for 90+, silver for 80+ and bronze for 70+. Each medal comes with a coin reward as well that can be used to purchase upgrades. The levels can be re-played to upgrade your medal and earn the additional coins for each level. Upgrades can be purchased for your weapon, the barrels and each type of zombie. Weapon upgrades include damage and number of bullets, while zombie upgrades include population, damage, blast radius, and a few special zombies have unique upgrades like the cop’s piercing shots, the soldier’s ricochets, and bilious zombie’s acid pool can last longer. Upgrades have to be purchased in order for each different zombie, so care has to be taken to upgrade “correctly” if a player upgrades population (more of the zombie will be present in levels) without upgrading damage or bullet quantity then it can become almost impossible to complete levels easily.

The levels unlock as you complete previous ones, they do not have to be completed in order.

The game can be played using the joystick to move the cross-hair over a zombie and firing, or it can be played utilizing the touch screen. One benefit to using the touchscreen is that you can hold down on the screen and a zoomed in scope view will allow you to precisely target the specific zombie you want to hit. Target selection is very important in the game, in later levels zombies will have differing health levels and it is important to target the ones that you can kill with one shot, with limited ammunition you cannot afford to shoot a single zombie two or three times to kill them.

Another feature that was added to OMG Zombies! is the ability to fast forward. This is an important feature when trying to get the zombies to clump up or when waiting for a cop or soldier to be facing a specific direction.

Audio & Visuals:

OMG Zombies! music is acceptable for the mood of the game, but it’s not a game soundtrack that people will be lining up to go purchase and listen to. Thematically the music is somber and fits the game well. Probably the biggest complaint I have about the game is the sound effects, individually they’re fine it’s a good mix of gun shots, explosions, groans, and shrieks. However, the main goal of the game is to create massive chain reactions that kill a hundred or more zombies at once, so this means that you will have multiple sound effects all playing on top of each other. The first time I played the game I was wearing headphones and the sound that came out of them could only be described as screeching, static-y, tearing metal. I did my due diligence to make sure it wasn’t an issue with my earbuds, but the sound was very similar through the Switch’s speakers and my television speakers as well. The worst offender is the runner zombie, they let out a blood-curdling shriek right when they run….mercy on your ears if you explode a group of them.

Say hello to my little….text

The graphics are simple, but simple is exactly what is needed. I never had an issue telling the different zombies apart after seeing them for a few levels. I never found it necessary to turn on the filter to colorize the different types. The level designs do end up being a bit samey and ultimately the different levels don’t do too much to change the tactics to get a good score. One issue I had with the graphics was on the first level that had a wall of text to explain the controls that was all but unreadable in handheld mode.

Conclusion:

OMG Zombies! is a game that fits nicely in the Nintendo Switch library. Each level can be completed in about a minute, maybe a couple if you’re waiting for optimal zombie groups to line up. On a portable system it’s a great gameplay loop to play during a break, on a short car trip (as the passenger of course), or even a few levels during a bathroom trip. The game took about 2-3 hours to unlock all 100 levels, there were about 15 or 20 levels that I didn’t get a medal on the first play through, but after a few upgrades it wasn’t difficult to pass the level and unlock the next ones. I managed a few 100%s on the first try but as previously stated that was more due to random luck than any actual skill. I would expect that most people could get all the unlocks completed and a large amount of 100% level scores in about 6-7 hours.

The game keeps tracks of all your game stats and has leaderboards as well to compare each level’s scores to others. I assume that leaderboards are based on your friend’s list or possibly simply weren’t active during the pre-release period when I played the game. This is a fun way to add a little replayability to the game as well.

Stats and leaderboards in the game to compare your level scores to your friends

Personally, I found the simplistic but strategic gameplay to be very engaging and frequently ended up playing for a lot longer than I planned to. The gameplay might be a bit repetitive for some people, but for those looking for a quick fix game that can fill a few moments when a longer game isn’t feasible.

Pros:

  • Simple but strategic gameplay makes it easy to progress through the game and offers replayability to 100% the game.
  • Quick levels are a great fit for a portable system.
  • Good variety of zombies and level layouts all for multiple different tactics that can complete a level.
  • Great value for the low pricetag of the game.

Cons:

  • Random luck instead of skill can determine the outcome in many levels.
  • The 100 levels end up all feeling very similar – not enough variety in the different environments.
  • Sounds effects that all play at the same time can make for a bad auditory experience.

Score: 4/5

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