I love zombie themed adventures. Be it movies, TV, games or books, if it’s got zombies included then chances are I’ll be keen to get stuck in and listen to the tales of how it all went to hell.
That said, it is a bit of a saturated genre, and to be a memorable and positive addition these days you have to go beyond the usual gameplay tropes to deliver something spectacular. Does the seemingly self-critical Yet Another Zombie Defense HD on Nintendo Switch have what it takes to do just that?
Before we start, I have to be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve got involved in Yet Another Zombie Defense. I first played it way back in 2010 when it arrived on Xbox 360. Back then I wasn’t a fan, and after jumping in once more when it arrived on Xbox One, I have to say my feelings didn’t exactly change for the better. But this time the adventure is found arriving on the handheld console of choice, the Nintendo Switch, and having a short and sweet adrenaline pumper is perfect for when you’re on the go. Whether Yet Another Zombie Defense HD is the sort of short adventure you’re after though is another question.
If you’ve yet to play Yet Another Zombie Defense, it is as the title suggests; a game in which you defend yourself from the attack of oncoming zombies. Gameplay takes place within a single scrolling screen from which players move around a darkened play area killing zombies in typical twin-stick fashion, earning money for doing so and then using that cash to build fortifications and buy weapons to protect yourself from the next wave of undead monsters trying to chew your ears off. This can be done solo or with up to four players playing cooperatively, either online or via local play. Playing local is by far the best way to go to prevent some of the issues that present themselves in the online play, and should you wish to survive for any decent amount of time then you’ll require every ounce of extra support you can get to help with the overpowered and vastly superior hordes of zombies.
There are three different modes included with Defense, Endless and Deathmatch making up the core of the game. Defense is the best mode of the three and this lets you experience the game as it was intended, with players working together to build up a suitable defensive base via the clever positioning of fortifications, before battling it out against the oncoming swarms of zombies and demons in a bid to try and reach, and then survive, wave 10. Deathmatch holds more of a tacked on feel as players fight it out to kill one another whilst trying to avoid the inbound zombie masses, whilst Endless is quite simply that – a never-ending version of the Defense game mode.
With four player matches made possible via multiplayer, it makes sense that we’d have four different characters to choose from when playing. Sadly though, whilst each sports a different appearance, there is no variety between them other than that. With no story included whatsoever, there is very little to warrant even including multiple characters besides ensuring players know who they are playing as. This is a missed opportunity as having character-based abilities could have added a much needed extra layer of depth to the game, but then Yet Another Zombie Defense is hardly one you’ll be going to for an in-depth or remotely interesting experience.
The reason I say that is because as far as zombie games go, Yet Another Zombie Defense HD is by far the most basic one you’ll find. It’s not exactly full of enjoyable combat, it’s repetitive from the first moment to the last, there’s no story whatsoever and the characters are pointless. Mix that with the fact that this version of the game is literally the worst yet with a whole host of issues and you’ll soon realise that even if it were to drop its price tag altogether, this isn’t a game you’d want to spend much time with.
The issues I’m talking about start from forcing the player to turn the darkness setting all the way to 0% just to actually see what it is going on, all the way to having a broken achievement system and loading times that simply take forever and a day to let you into the action. With the game already proving a dull affair, these problems are just the thing to turn away even a loyal fan base.
Things are not helped by the inclusion of ridiculously overpriced items in the shop when in-game and how other players are allowed to spend the money you’ve earned as a group. Now that may sound a little controversial: after all, if everyone earns money, why shouldn’t everyone spend it? But given that survival requires at least a little planning, and items in the shop can cost thousands of in-game pounds, you’d expect that hefty priced items would require everyone to agree. Unfortunately players are well within their capabilities to splash any cash earned on whatever they want, the caveat being that all money is shared so if one person makes that questionable purchase, everyone has to suffer for it, and you’re likely to fail in your bid for survival if someone purchases the wrong overpriced item.
On top of buying new items such as fortifications, players also need to manage the ammo consumption of their purchased weapons, with this costing a fair amount too. Whilst the starting pistol brings unlimited ammo, it is also only suitable for the opening one or two waves meaning should someone go on a jolly with your squad’s resources, you’ll soon find yourself falling victim to unfair gameplay mechanics.
Besides spending money to upgrade your defensive capabilities, players can also gain points towards levelling up their characters during the fight. Things such as health and movement speed can be upgraded and should you hope to make it to any reasonable wave then you’ll need to begin investing wisely.
I’ve got to say I’m not a big fan of Yet Another Zombie Defense HD, however my final gripe with the game comes from it’s apparent HD claims. Whilst this title is said to be upgraded visually, it needs to be said that in no way does it look like a modern game – with visuals still as terrible as they were when the original arrived some eight years ago. There has to be something said, particularly when you’re looking towards the end of a console generation and yet the visuals barely resemble that of a PS2 era game.
If you’re after a zombie game, then simply don’t buy, download or waste your time on Yet Another Zombie Defense HD. It’s poorly designed, it’s bland, it’s boring and it’s horribly dated. With plenty of other titles on the market deserving of your hard earned cash, and over 1000 titles currently available on the Nintendo Switch, there is no reason to jump in to such a poor zombie adventure.
Release date: April 2019
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: Awesome Games Studios