Video Games are supposed to be fun, whether it’s playing solo or when you can share the experience with others. These days the focus on big blockbuster games with epic storylines and open world adventures with a serious or dark tone is huge, but every now and then a game will sneak through and reminds us what games of the past could bring to the table. Zombie Vikings is such a game, and boy did it take me by surprise!
Zombie Vikings comes from the same team that made ‘Stick it to the Man’, and brings back the same humour but this time the team have decided to give us their own spin on Norse mythology. That pesky Loki is up to his usual tricks and has stolen the eye of Odin, much to Odin’s annoyance. In order to get it back, Odin raises a band of legendary Vikings to chase down Loki and retrieve the eye. Sounds simple right?
The first thing that grabs you about Zombie Vikings is the visuals, using the same almost pop up book paper craft style of Stick it to the Man and a hand painted art style which I really love. From the environments to the character and enemy designs, there is a real charm to the visuals on screen that it just makes me smile playing this game. The detailing on each of the characters alone compliments their individual playing style making the character selection a not so easy task, even if they are basically rotting Viking corpses, they are all really…cute.
Back in the day I really loved side scrolling fighters and was so pleased to see that this game takes a lot of inspiration from those games and adds its own quirkiness to the mix. Each of the characters you can choose has their own play-style giving them unique attacking options when tackling each level. From Caw-Kaa who can use her wings to charge up flying dive attacks to Hedgy who has the pleasant ability to basically throw up skulls that can become bombs to throw at enemies, picking a character to play as has never been more fun. Though enemies can feel a little repetitive going through the levels until you reach a boss fight, the ability to pick and change your character at the start of each level does help change things up a notch either in solo or co-op play.
I love the humour in this game with its many references to films and its self parodying style that comes across in the dialogue in cut-scenes and during gameplay. It is a very self aware game, and even if you are playing it solo it will reference the other characters. Play co-op and the dialogue steps up a notch even more as the characters will chat away to each other quite happily during fights so making it a point to try and listen to it as you play is rewarding and did give me some genuine laughs. This all blends really well when you come to the main focus of the gameplay…sharing it with friends.
Whilst you can play Zombie Vikings completely solo, the spirit of this game is that it is meant to be shared with others. Four players can form up together and this is where it really comes to life. I used to love playing the original TMNT arcade machine with friends and this game captures that same feel, it is better to play with other people. The Vikings can work together, combining their abilities in both funny but effective ways. Whilst the game has online co-op, this is a game that is completely designed to be played the old school co-op way, sofa co-op with 3 other friends. Getting the chance to have four friends together playing this game really elevates it to another level that online co-op doesn’t quite reach. Teaming up together in the levels is such great fun but then the game also throws in a little friendly competition to try and test those ties of friendship. Completing each level and defeating bosses will offer the reward or a new weapon, each with its own power and style of combat. Now in solo you will simply earn the weapon and be free to use it. But play in co-op and you will have to battle your fellow Vikings for the right to own that weapon which feels rather Viking.
Sadly I did find issues trying to use the online co-op and getting three friends together on the sofa these days is not an easy thing, but I like that the game tries to encourage that and whilst it is the best way to play Zombie Vikings, playing solo is still great fun for the price of this arcade game enough to warrant your attention.
I really enjoyed Zombie Vikings far more than I had expected to, and though it does have some issues nothing is really game breaking and it’s an fun experience in the middle of so many blockbuster big name titles being released right now. It is all about fun with the humour and visuals complimenting the gameplay. It is old school enough to appeal to side scrolling fighters of yester year but fresh enough to give it a place in your collection right now when you just want to take a break and enjoy gaming the way it should be.