Over 9000 Zombies! is a top down, retro-style zombie shooter from indie developer Loren Lemcke which trades heavily on the appeal of its multiplayer action.
Originally released on Steam Early Access back in 2014, the game is now available as as a finished title published by Mastertronic (now there’s a blast from the past), and while it doesn’t do anything spectacularly new or add anything to the genre, Over 9000 Zombies (let’s just drop the exclamation mark to save time and sanity, shall we?) is worth considering if you’re a fan of twin-stick shooters – and if you’re looking for a simple, retro zombie blaster, Over 9000 Zombies! is a fun way to kill a few hours.
Over 9000 Zombies is so-called because of some special mathematical wizardry which the developer Loren Lemcke understands, but hasn’t quite explained. However, we do know that this special math is used to cram, I assume, more than 9000 zombies onto your screen by the end of the final wave. You certainly do get a lot of the undead thrown at you right from the off, though that in itself isn’t enough to make Over 9000 Zombies stand out from the hoard of similar zombie games.
The difference between Over 9000 Zombies and your standard 4-player co-op zombie blaster is that this game has elements from the tower defense genre thrown in for fun. Once you’ve stopped to check the controls (no, seriously, stop and check the controls because you get thrown in the deep end trying not to die as you button mash everything to find what works,) you’ll soon realize that you have two options available to you: do you run, gun and pray for survival? Or do you hunker down and build a camp, waiting for the zombies to come to you – wave after wave after wave?
There are benefits to both strategies: if you run around, you can pick up loot as you kill everything in sight – be they zombies, zombie dogs, fire zombies, floating eyeballs, crab things, you name it and it’s probably in there. Loot comes in one of 4 flavors – health pickups, grenades and perk barrels are your first three, and pretty much do what they say on the tin. For all their usefulness, perks are only temporary boosts – bestowing upon you incendiary rounds, God Mode, super speed – nothing out of the ordinary for the genre, but fun to use all the same.
The fourth loot drop is scrap metal, which you use to build your camp. You can fortify your base of operations with concrete or steel blocks, and lay down up to 6 turrets which shoot anything from plasma to white phosphorous at the advancing hordes. The problem with hunkering down is that while the turrets will happily see you through the first 4 waves, you’ll soon run out of scrap and be forced to venture outside of your base to gather more. The best strategy has you utilizing both methods, and ideally a second pair of hands.
There’s also a slew of weapons to choose from in Over 9000 Zombies – the more you use a weapon, the closer you are to unlocking the next one along a particular levelling tree. While this tree is viewable in-game, doing so doesn’t pause the action and you’ll die if you stare at it too long – which is a little frustrating. The redeeming factor is that you won’t want to pause if for too long, because the background music really makes you want to kill the hell out of all the zombies – it’s a brilliant soundtrack. It starts out reminiscent of Doom, and becomes more and more dubstep-y as you kill things. Even if you aren’t a fan of dubstep, you’ll get sucked in as it eggs you on. The lighting system is also a nice touch – Over 9000 Zombies runs on a continuous day night cycle, and as the game lays on more and more zombies, they bring their shadows with them. The more zombies surround you, the less you can see. It’s a small touch, but one which adds to the overall atmosphere and tension.
As it stands, Over 9000 Zombies is worth your money if you’re into this kind of game – it has both local and online multiplayer of the 4P
and 2P varieties, respectively. There’s plenty of fun to be had with a partner or 3, but on its own as a single-player game, it gets a little dull after a while. While there are plenty of cool little maps to throw yourself against, it does get pretty repetitive on your own, so it’s definitely best played among friends.
Elsewhere, there are a few things which are absent from the game, and take a little of the shine off of the overall experience – Over 9000 Zombies would be a better experience if it came with more items and more robust levelling system, and as fun as the gameplay is and while the included map maker is welcome, it lacks enough variety to keep you inolved for lengthy periods of time.
More gameplay modes would have been nice, and boss enemies to add some variety wouldn’t have gone amiss either – at the moment, playing the game consists of little more than mowing down wave after wave of zombies – so a few more enemy types to force you into switching your tactics on the fly would have been nice.
That’s about all there is to say about Over 9000 Zombies – it’s a fun game with a friend or if you really like single-player tower defence/ top-down shooter games, with a tonne of zombies thrown in for good measure. But if you’re at all ambivalent about the genre, don’t play it on your own – you’ll likely get bored pretty quickly. As such, your mileage may vary, and you can add or subtract a point to or from the score below depending on how much you love this style of game, and if you have friends to play with.
Over 9000 Zombies’ biggest crime is that while it has ideas, it doesn’t do enough with them to keep you interested for extended periods of time. In a marketplace inundated with plenty of other top-down shooters, all hungry for your cash, that may be to its disadvantage.