LOS ANGELES — I’ve killed a lot of zombies in a lot of ways over the years: alone, with friends, on a console, in VR and on a smartphone. But I’ve never had the opportunity to dispatch zombies, with friends, in virtual reality — until now. Bloody Zombies, a new title from game developer Paw Print Games and publisher nDreams, pits four survivors of an unexplained event against hordes of zombies.
Set in London, this side-scrolling beat-’em-up draws inspiration from classic games such as Streets of Rage and Final Fight and serves up a heaping helping of nostalgia. But instead of 16-bit sprites, Bloody Zombies uses funky cel-shaded animation for a fun, unique look.
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But onto the mashing and bashing. This four-player co-op title lets you and several of your closest friends team up to fight your way through hordes of monstrous undead. As in the aforementioned ’80’s-era titles, you punch, kick, body-slam and jump-kick your way to victory. If you’re lucky, you might pick up a weapon or two.
Like most games in this genre, Bloody Zombies makes it pretty easy to get into the swing of things. I used the D-pad to maneuver my character and used the X, Y, A and B buttons to punch, kick, jump and throw, respectively. Buttons can be combined to whip out some powerful special moves on your undead foes.
Be careful, though — the zombies have some tricks up their rotting sleeves. For instance, some ghouls have spikes poking out, which prevent jump attacks. Others wield knives and immediately stab you if you happen to be standing over them after they are knocked down.
Making my way through Bloody Zombies was definitely fun. However, the title has a bonus twist: One of the four players in a session can play in VR with either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset. Once the headset is up and running, the character of the player wearing it will also be shown wearing a headset.
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As I quickly discovered during my demo, the VR version of the title afforded me more situational awareness than my teammates had. For instance, only I could see the massive spinning, bladed wheel of doom descending upon us, and was able to warn my team in the nick of time.
But as cool as barking out orders with my increased perspective was, the real fun came from having the people I was playing with actually in the room with me. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about having everyone in the same physical space that’s refreshing.
Want to get in on some button-mashing, zombie-stomping action? Bloody Zombies is currently available on Steam Early Access if you can’t wait for the finished product.