Zombies and Vikings may seem like an unlikely pair but after seeing a trailer for Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, a game featuring both the undead and Norse warriors is not that far of a stretch. In Zombie Vikings, and you play as multiple Zombie Vikings on a quest for glory. I am unsure how the concept of a side-scrolling beat’em up featuring Viking Zombies came about, but behind the artistic design lies a sound game that might deserve your attention if the time is right.
Stylistically, Zombie Vikings is unique. The environment and your characters all seem like they are made of cardboard and it comes across like you are playing in a pop-up book. The choice to have everything so 1 dimensional in an environment with depth, meant there were draw backs, like occasionally getting stuck on a wall or falling off a bridge. Later on during chase sequences however, this design choice meant constant frustration as I had to make my cardboard character stay on a precise path.
There are four characters in total, and they come in small, medium and large sizes. The cool part is the art design which makes them look really wicked; as well as their abilities which makes each different from the others. For most of my playtime I was Gunborg, a male zombie Viking with a squid for a belt. Each character has charge attacks and different abilities, which makes for a good change of pace. Gunborg for example, can charge his squid up and pick up foes to toss them.
What really adds another layer to this game is that you get to choose a weapon and a rune at the beginning of each level. The weapons give you special attacks, while the runes give you additional abilities and features. The weapons can be anything from a classic large bladed sword that deals more damage, to a stinky stiff skunk that slows down your opponents. Yes, I did say skunk. It should also be said that this game does not take itself seriously at all. This game lives or dies by its humor, which is a shame given that most jokes fall flat. As for runes, they can help heal your character faster or actually sap you of health. Not sure how that last one was helpful.
The story must be touched upon because Zombie Vikings tries its hardest to be as engaging as possible. They have the typical fart-joke or annoying gag, but sometimes they do land a funny joke. One level for example, had you carrying a worm across the course while he's nagging you about being too slow. Sadly, the game wants to be really funny and it just simply does not work. As for the overarching story, its hard to say because there were different areas, but the goals were all for a particular character. The story map led to a huge water monster that was a pretty good boss-battle. There is a huge surprise at the end, but rather than eliciting excitement, I just felt deflated.
I do not want to leave you with the impression that Zombie Vikings is not a good game, because at the end of the day I think it was made soundly. The game has great art design, the gameplay and features are very thought out and the developers throw new elements at you constantly. There are even side quests. Unfortunately the game also has some design issues, repetition and a solid lack of good jokes. I feel that the developers have the chops to make a great game because this one was full of content and no corners were crossed, but they just picked the wrong subject material.