Tag Archives: writing ‘zombie wave shooter’ causes me physical pain

REVIEW: The Keep: Zombie Horde

I have to think by now Sick Kreations is gaslighting us all. I’ve run two different articles previewing the gorgeous Aliens Vs. Romans, certain it’s the next release from the studio (hell, there’s even a fresh trailer for the game), only to be shown I’m full of it. First, there was the unnecessary End of Days-themed zombie shooter, and now that’s been followed by yet another wave shooter featuring undead, The Keep: Zombie Horde (80 MSP). This one seems to be co-developed, but… I’m audibly sighing right now. One of these days, A vs. R, I swear I’ll see you. I mean, the trailer says April. It has to happen, right?

The Keep - Screen

Back on topic, though, The Keep follows the well-tread wave sho— such-and-such (I’m tired of writing it out), route with almost no deviation. You’re a guy (part of the Citizen Protection Force, short for ‘because you need the work’), shooting zombies and protecting civilians flocking to your ‘castle’, presumably the last safe haven. You earn money based on how many of those people survive, which you then spend on guns (standard assortment, including RPGs and grenades) and ammunition during the interlude between jobs. Every other wave, you’ll get a bonus stage where you’ll take control of a machine gun and mow down the brain-dead multitudes. The more undead you take down here, the more survivors you’ll have the chance to save next round.

Though much like End of Days: Survivor, The Keep believes you can’t have too much of a good thing (i.e. zombies), and it’s wrong. The game adopts and doctors the seventh rule of Fight Club for itself; waves will go on as long as they have to, which is probably much longer than you’ll want (I am Jack’s irrepressible boredom). If a steady rotation of 5+ minute rounds, spent locked in a box picking off zombies, listening to the same artificially-tense music clip on a loop sounds like fun to you, then you’re The Keep’s target audience, and extremely easy to please.

The Keep - Screen2

Mo’ survivors means mo’ money means longer waves means mo’ problems.

Even the handgun, the quintessential starting gun for virtually every shooter, is nerfed for The Keep. Rather than supply you with unlimited rounds, as most games do, you’ll have to ration shots and purchase ammo after each wave. Problem is, with the waves lasting so long in between those store visits, you can find yourself shooting blanks if you’re not a shrewd planner. It’s easier said, but do keep plenty of bullets in reserve. For the bigger guns, too, expect to pay even more for the ammo. The game leaves you an out— a knife for melee attacks, but again, you probably don’t want to spend several minutes waiting for, and stabbing, every zombie that clambers up your castle wall.

I hate to be the bearer of bad reviews, but once again, the developer(s) has(have) released a competent but entirely unnecessary wave shooter with The Keep, one with almost no reason to spend meaningful time with, other than to test fire all the guns just to say you did. Not a terrible game, but let’s hope that the studio’s schedule between now and Aliens Vs. Romans is completely clear.

REVIEW: Undead Legions

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.

Undead Legions - Screen

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.