REVIEW: Scarlet the Zombie Slayer

There’s simultaneously a feeling of odd comfort and outright dread whenever I get the news I’m covering another zombie game here. For every stellar title that switches up the formula, I get half a dozen vanilla (pun intended) games that do the bare minimum and expect to get by on popular culture alone. It’s maddening. But hey, at least this one’s not a goddamn wave shooter!1 Rather, Scarlet the Zombie Slayer ($1.00) is a (mostly) side-scrolling slasher of the undead… albeit hand-drawn outlines on a paper-esque background.

Scarlet the Zombie Slayer - Screen

Oh, and the two-headed dogs in this game can fuck right off. Bastards.

I’d imagine this game looks like the nightmares of an eight-year-old in motion2. That unsolicited thought and interesting art choice aside, the game plays much as you’d expect; our one-handed protagonist is a nifty wielder of the blade, slicing through lines of penciled corpses with relative ease. That’s a fancy way of saying that it’s a hack & slash, through and through, with the option of chucking unlimited axes as your long-range weapon. To compliment that fighting style, you generally move from point A to B in this overrun city, picking up items and healing kits placed in the environments.

In addition to the zombies, you’ll also fight super-sized rats(!), bees(!), and two-headed canines(!). There’s no real accounting for creatures like this in a supposed ‘zombie outbreak’, but hey, variety. You also get some exposition in the form of NPCs you encounter along the way, tasking you with short quests / rescue missions. These too, don’t stray too far from the ‘go here, kill this’ line, but you do occasionally partake in some God of War-esque QTEs that have you, say, exploding out of the eye socket of a giant bug, for example.

Scarlet the Zombie Slayer - Screen2

These bits are charming, but come few and far between the extended battles. Though the combat is straightforward and serviceable, it becomes tedious whenever the enemies grapple you. Sure, some of the zombie kill animations look neat once you wrestle free, but the molasses-slow ‘jump’ and constant ‘stunned’ movements whenever you’re attacked can make certain scenes a chore, and a little unfair (i.e., all fights with the aforementioned two-headed dogs). With no real way to dodge these enemies, you can find yourself repeating some segments over and over, which isn’t very fun.

And that theme applies to the game overall. With its so-so gameplay and vanilla style (pun definitely intended), Scarlet the Zombie Slayer is really only worth a look if you’re super hard up for another zombie game to play. Props go out to developer Chris Antoni for working with the materials and talent he has at hand, but some cheap and quickly-developed games can’t escape their label, and still come out feeling, well… cheap and quickly-developed.

  1. And my sanity thanks you, Mr. Antoni. 
  2. I’m pretty sure I mean that as a compliment, too, just so no eight-year-olds or the developer have any hard feelings. 

20 thoughts on “REVIEW: Scarlet the Zombie Slayer”

  1. Hi. After reading your review, i am asking myself a larger question : “can we find pleasure playing at really ugly games even if they are good or is it definitely impossible ?”

    1. I think so. It’s hard to say for sure what could be considered an ‘ugly’ game, instead of something with ‘simple art’ or something else like it, but I think it’s just as easy to enjoy those games.

      Take a game called March to the Moon, for example. It’s not what I would call ‘a good-looking game’, but the gameplay and ideas more than make up for it. It’s still one of my favorite shooters for XBLIG:

      Good gameplay and ‘having fun’ playing it are always my top priorities for a game. People get spoiled these days with AAA titles looking like ‘Hollywood blockbusters’, so to speak, but I’m perfectly fine playing average-looking games.. so long as they are fun. 🙂

  2. You can kill the dogs easily if you just jump over them. Unfortunately I train the player into thinking everything is hack slash hack and then an enemy requiring agility comes along that ruins his/her day. It’s not meant to be a crushing difficulty increase, but if you don’t jump out of the way the timing of the dogs can be brutal. I should have made them wait longer between rushes. This game took around a month, and it was so tedious doing the drawings that I wrote other games in between.

    My philosophy is that I need to create a semi-winner before I put months of effort into a “polished game”. Hence why I am pumping out so many types of games… I’m learning 😉

    Believe it or not this game was my first attempt at making an easy game I thought everyone could beat 😦 I suck at tuning difficulty lol

    1. I tried to jump over them, but they always come in groups of 2 or 3, so when you jump over the first one you instantly get attack by the second one, unfortunately 😦

    2. @Derp: Fuck those dogs, agreed!

      @Chris: Actually, I tried the ‘jumping’ trick before you mentioned it here, and that didn’t help me out too much. The spot that gave me the most trouble was right after the ‘car crash’ segment, when you’ve got waves of zombies, followed up with the rats / dogs, then more zombies. I must have re-tried that part at least seven or eight times. Jumping helps to avoid their dash, but often, I’d just end up right next to the other one / or more zombies. And with both the jumping animation and the dog’s attack animation slowing things down, I had a very narrow window of opportunity. Basically, their grappling kept depleting my health, leaving me too weak to fight off the remaining enemies.

      It’s a learning experience, like you said, but yeah, those dogs… suck. 🙂

    3. SEVEN OR EIGHT times??? Oh the humanity!!! LOL but for reals I’ve been known to try things 40 or 50 times. I guess I just like self punishment to much.

    4. Hey, hey, AT LEAST seven or eight… it could have been… NINE times! Haha. But then, I’ve grown impatient in my advancing age. I’m too used to the modern era, I’ve forgotten about the past, where everything was hard as hell for the sake of extending something. That, and I trust my skill set— I know if I’m having trouble with a particular spot or enemy, then others will as well. And those dogs…. they be trouble. Good luck! 😉

  3. Tried the game, I like it.
    But there is a lot of problem:
    First, no colors. Would have been fun to have at least a bit of red blood you know… 🙂
    Second, the fights. As you said, very unfair: the two types of ‘basics zombies’ are to way to weak, and the two headed dog is way to powerful, you can’t do shit versus them. The only one that might befair is the rats….

    And because of that second point I stopped playinh right after the cannibals.
    Could have been better.

  4. I have to say I really enjoyed playing this game when it was in review. I loved the cutscenes and goofy art style, and I was lol’ing at all the over-the-top deaths. You’re right about the developer’s insane level of productivity, maybe he has a basement full of interns working around the clock 😉

    1. Yeah, those cutscenes and the God of War button prompts were my favorite bits. The gameplay though, felt about average. Could be I’m burnt out on zombie games in general (except for yours, of course 😉 ), or maybe my bar for good games is set a little higher these days. That said, Chris has to have an insane productivity regimen. No idea how he keeps up this pace!

  5. Interested in Scarlet the Zombie Slayer? I’ve got TWO codes for the game, courtesy of the developer. Reply to this comment, and you can be slaying zombies at half-speed in no time!

  6. I’m gonna have to try this out, at the very least. until I’ve actually played it for myself.. I’m having a lot of trouble picturing this thing in motion ha

    1. You can always count on Splazer for that! It’s rough around the animated edges (sort of like half-speed). I give the developer a lot of credit for being able to crank out these games as quickly as he does, but that kind of development speed always comes at a cost. He almost creates games at the same rate as I review games; done with one and on to the next in the span of half a week! 😀

    2. ha, wow, wasn’t expecting that. you’re right about that last part though, and here I thought you reviewed games fast.. you could almost have a full time job just keeping up with his games lol

    3. Ha, pretty much. That’s why I jokingly refer to the site as ‘theANTONI’, instead of ‘theXBLIG’ sometimes. 😀 Prolific, that’s what he is. Prolific.

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