Gaming Review: Dustoff Z

Review: Dustoff Z

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3… 2… 1… Dustoff!!!

Invictus Games takes you on a helicopter ride as humanity holds on to what is left after a zombie takeover. Zombies are everywhere, so keep your eyes open and your foot on the gas. Choose your preferred riflemen to accompany you in attempt to rescue displaced survivors and defeat huge bosses. Dustoff Z has a ton of personality for such a simple game and the extra features will give you plenty to come back to.

Gameplay

Be careful when dropping low to grab pickups. The zombies can jump and cling to the helicopter.

Dustoff Z has very simple intentions. Pick your helicopter, choose your team, and begin your next adventure. Missions typically last only a couple of minutes to complete, so you can play the game in short bursts or hunker down for a while. I took a few breaks during my playthrough since some levels can get pretty tough almost out of no where. After a hard rescue, the following mission can easily and oftentimes scale the difficulty right back down. The lack of consistency in the game’s difficulty will create stopping points for some players. Upon completing a mission, you’ll see the familiar 3-star rating screen, most commonly used in mobile games or titles such as Overcooked. The easy controls and menu interface really illustrate the game’s potential to be a mobile port.

Controls

Use the left analog stick to fly and steer the ship in a 2.5D environment. Hold the right trigger to fire your gunners’ weapons. And that’s pretty much it. There’s an auto aim function so you won’t need to worry about using a second stick to aim. What this means is that you can’t decide which zombies to shoot at first when they approach. You will have to rely on the auto aim to hopefully pick off the closest ones to the helicopter. The ability to turn auto aim on/off would have been nice for veteran players. However, it’s a simple game and the focus is on the helicopter flying.

Visuals and Audio

Intro Graphic

Dustoff Z uses cell-shaded 3D graphics with bright colors. For a post-apocalyptic zombie shooter, the game looks quite nice. The graphics convince you that there is hope for the survivors. The title has a teen rating for zombie violence and tobacco use, but I believe that this game is great for younger players. The blood is green or can be turned off and the tempo is upbeat. I’d rather my little one play this rather than anything M-rated. The graphics are paired with a Rock n’ Roll soundtrack. It’s such a breath of fresh air to hear guitars, drums, and other fidelity instruments that sound less synthetic and artificial. Dustoff Z’s music is reminiscent of how Borderlands uses banjos and slide guitars to help paint it’s space-redneck picture.

Customization

Spend collected coins to hire and upgrade your gunners. Choose from sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and machine guns.

There is surprisingly a good amount to choose from here to assemble the optimal chopper team to your liking. As you level up, more gunners become available to purchase. You may also spend coins on gunner and vehicle upgrades, such as accuracy. Load up an armor-heavy chopper with rocket launchers and explosives. Or focus on speed and maneuverability while raining bullets on zombie hoards with your automatic rifles. Preferably, I think having all gunners and vehicles available from the start would have been a more polished feature. The player could then choose what to invest in from the get-go in preparation for the schizophrenic difficulty spikes. Leveling up to unlock extras, but still needing to purchase them afterwards, is a bit redundant.

Bottom Line

Dustoff Z is one of the friendliest zombie games you can play. The unstable difficulty is the only issue here, but it’s nothing to speak to the manager about. If you like helicopter controls, play this game. If not, then there are certainly other budget titles you can check out. Dustoff Z is easy to pick up with solid replay value, and is light-hearted fun we can all benefit from.

SUMMARY

+ easy "pick up and play" game with simple controls and clear goals
+ vehicle and gunner customization
+ clean graphics and good music
- difficulty can spike up and down from level to level
- feels like a mobile game port
(Reviewed on Switch. Also available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC)
Wil Raterman
@ brgrboii: NYC dwelling rush-down zoner fighter. Lover of any and all things retro. Modern games with a pixelated paint job are also welcome here. Always equips grenades as part of the loadout. Currently playing Switch and Steam games.

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