Last year’s ‘bumper-car RPG’ Battlepaths won me over with its quirky charm and unique graphical style. Oh, and the chance at epic loot. Now with Undead Legions (80 MSP), Developer Key17 Games takes a step back and turns its attention to the oft-used sub-genre of zombie wave shooters. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?
Eh, it can be wrong. The art style and eccentricities do make a return, along with the main character from Battlepaths (here representing the ‘Gunner’ class). He’s complimented by three additional allies / classes (Rogue, Mage, and Priestess; all equipped as you’d imagine). Naturally, each character comes with his or her own boosts and shortcomings to stats, and their very own special attack (grenade drop, spike trap, etc.) in two forms; a standard casting to provide some room / temporary relief, and a stronger, wider version of the spell that requires a full bar of mana.
Modes come in Classic and Survival. While the latter plays out exactly as it should (fight until you die), Classic takes the… ahem… classic approach to wave variations, sending lines of zombies and other monsters for five rounds, throwing in a hulking boss type, then repeat. Killing anything that’s walking / flying around will occasionally leave behind health and mana, keeping you focused on the hordes and continually stocked.
You’re additionally buoyed with temporary powerups (spread shot, speed) and permanent stat-boosting upgrades (by swatting at the sack-carrying goblins between rounds) that will gradually transform your chosen avatar into the epitome of a zombie slayer. All stuff you should know from prior experience. Enemies cover the familiar spectrum as well, from classic shamblers to those with ranged attacks, brutes that take more damage, etc. A boss round every few levels further distinguishes the zombie ranks, though even they’re just larger brutes to go with a larger area of attack (or a cheap bomb spread, grrr). …It’s a zombie wave shooter. You’ve seen this all before, and you’ll start to feel remarkably blasé within the first fifteen minutes of booting it up.
And though enemy variety is always appreciated over rote waves of twin-stick nothingness, some of those types can be grating to single-players. Depending on your character and / or reserve mana, you can quickly find yourself surrounded by bats or explosive spiders that like to box you in before detonating, dealing huge amounts of damage you really have no defense against. This would be less of an issue with the local multiplayer (to spread out targets and damage among), though solo runs won’t benefit from the friendly intervention.
Pretty, yet familiar.
Despite competency, solid controls, and some fun moments, Undead Legions is still just a Battlepaths-themed version of every zombie wave shooter that’s ever been released. To be fair, taking it on with friends would no doubt extend the enjoyment (add points accordingly). Maybe worth it if you’ve somehow been living under a rock all these years, but it’s otherwise the same type of game you’ve seen over and over again, with precious little to separate it from the zombie pack.