With survival horror seemingly out of vogue (see the action route taken by the genre’s initiator Resident Evil), it’s good to see a developer tackling it head on; and in London of all places.
The story, such as it is, goes that Royal Astronomer, John Dee, prophesied the end of days, leading Charles II to later found the Ravens. A group whose mission is to restore humanity should Dee’s predicted ‘Blight’ ever come to fruition.
You find yourself waking up in a safe house after a brief close encounter with the undead. It soon transpires that by helping the a Ravens, you might just be able to save humanity. And so, rather than cower under the nearest bed, you set off to fight the good fight. Big mistake.
You see, you will die in ZombiU and each time you do, you’ll awaken as another survivor. Not only that, but your first task will then be to find and kill the reanimated corpse of your previous host in order to get back your loot. Think Dark Souls but without quite the same level of excruciating difficulty.
ZombiU makes great use of the new gameplay options possible on Wii U by causing the player to have to shift attention between TV and Wii U GamePad screen, therefore allowing the undead to get the drop on the inattentive.
Looting corpses leaves you exposed (the camera subtlety panning over your shoulder so you can bear witness to encroaching undead) and the GamePad also acts as your way to interact with the environment, meaning an electronic door will require you to punch in the relevant key code. Not easy when you’ve a horde of shambling horror bearing down on you.
Sparse ammo means you’ll often have no choice but to resort to your last line of defence, your trusty cricket bat. But while tense encounters are gruesomely pleasing at first, the fact you can’t upgrade the bat means that the tension can give way to repetition.
Similarly, plot holes and occasional difficulty spikes point to the game’s necessarily short gestation period. However, the originality of how you interact within the game, and the atmosphere Ubisoft have generated, outweigh the negatives in what is an excellent day one example of the Wii U’s twist on gameplay.
Format: Wii U