We've said it before and we'll say it again: there's just something about zombies that everyone and their mothers is in love with. From a hit action drama on television to what is now a new subgenre of gaming, the undead are being welcomed with open arms in today's culture. So what's a game review without another game about fending off the brain-hungry?
DevRain Solutions' Undead Carnage offers up a world where the dead have risen, machetes are their weakness, and goth rock reigns supreme. Will this hack-and-slash action title be able to separate itself from the pack, or is it just another brainless addition to your library? Find out after the break.
Undead Carnage follows the story of Freddie, a man who's recently lost a loved one. While visiting her grave, Freddie is startled to find that the dead have risen and he has no choice but to put them back down. That's where the machete he just so happens to carry around comes in handy. Sarcasm aside, it's a decent premise for establishing what to expect: zombie-killin' action. The aim of the first chapter of the game included in this demo is to fight your way out of the graveyard throughout multiple levels and several undead baddies.
The game gives you on-screen controls to work with: a joystick in the bottom left for movement, and three action controls in the bottom right for jumping, machete-ing, and shooting (oh yeah, Freddie's got a gun too). You can also link up each action in order to build out combos, resulting in score multipliers to rack up points. Of course, you have to survive long enough to make your way to the end, and you can heal any damage by earning hearts from the zombies you defeat.
The strength of Undead Carnage is undoubtedly in its high production values, as it is one of few games in the Marketplace to stress its presentation. The game exudes a gothic style in everything from the blood-stained menus to the relentless riffing of metal guitars in the background music. In my opinion, presentation is something games too often forget and it was great to see DevRain break from the mold and pay extra attention to the polish. Coupled with this are Undead Carnage's graphics performance featuring a silky smooth 60 frames-per-second of running, gunning and slashing. Plus the graphics itself aren't too shabby as the characters are well detailed, the environments have some variety as you move between them, and the zombies are appropriately intimidating. Best of all, the game is free which is a total steal for the quality you're getting in return of an instant 20 MB download.
The best games are those which show an equal dedication to craft and function, but Undead Carnage disappoints a bit in the latter with its shallow gameplay. As I mentioned before, the game does let the player link up combos and in general there is fun to be had with what's been given. But that is undermined by the lacking combo variety (only two types are 'recognized' by the game) and the points system that tallies your fighting skills doesn't seem to serve any purpose. It would be great if by linking moves together you could increase your damage by a certain multiplier, like other hack-and-slash games, but unfortunately that's not the case here. We also had one issue with the inclusion of the gun, which basically lets you spam the weapon to get through the game with no consequence. You can see an example of what we mean by this in the video review above, but in a nutshell there's no risk to just sitting back and firing your gun from a safe distance until all the zombies are dead -- including the final boss. That oversight can make the game less enjoyable and removes the already limited satisfaction of stringing combos.
Making things even more frustrating are the on-screen controls which have on more than one occasion missed out on our commands. When your health is low and you're surrounded by zombies, missing the jump or roll button combo can be the difference between life and death. It seems like the problem lies in the touch radius of the buttons, which should be a little bit wider to accommodate those fat human fingers we're stuck with. Now don't get us wrong, these negatives should not break your decision to try out the game. If anything these are suggestions on what to fix in an effort to improve the final product, but at the same time they are common issues one is very likely to run into while trying to enjoy their quick burst of slaughtering for the day.
The Score: 7 / 10
DevRain's Undead Carnage is a strong preview of what's to come, but that's all you should treat it as. In my opinion, the gameplay needs some new mechanics to liven things up while the controls should require less precision than what's necessary right now. However, this demo establishes that the final game does have a bright future ahead -- all it needs to do now is flesh things out. (Pun intended.)
Download Undead Carnage for free in the Marketplace by clicking on the tile or link below.
by DevRain Solutions