Review: Zombie Vikings (PS4)

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Title: Zombie Vikings
Format: PlayStation Network Download (4.3 GB)
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Zoink AB
Developer: Zoink Studios
Original MSRP: $19.99 (US), €19.99 (EU), £15.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
Zombie Vikings is also available on PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

From the same crazy minds that gave us Stick it to the Man we now have a co-op zombie brawler in the same graphical style and from the sound of it, the same humor. I delve into this cardboard world to see if it can retain the same laughter and magic or end up being a little… flat.

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Gameplay:
Zombie Vikings begins with a short introduction to the crazy story that pulls Viking myth and legend into an absurd and amusing story that had me smiling right from the first scene. You quickly learn why your four Vikings have been reanimated and know of their final objective.

I won’t spoil it as it’ll be more fun finding out for yourself. That very same reason is also why I felt compelled to play this four player co-op hack and slash brawler on my own the first time round.

You can pick between four very different zombies that have their own unique special ability and preferred weapons. They also have runes that have their own benefits and maybe even a disadvantage.

Almost all of the weapons and runes have to be unlocked with money collected during each level or as a reward for completing a task for someone. These tasks are usually amusing fetch or deliver quests with a whimsical twist.

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You can do a decent amount of damage running around mashing the Square button and occasionally pressing Circle to painfully pick someone or something up with the tip of your sword and then throw them wherever you please.

Triangle unleashes a small move or attack unique to the character. Holding down the standard or special attack buttons build up their own stronger moves that can be interrupted by a blow from an enemy but can be devastating to a large group. If timed correctly you can also parry many attacks leaving the enemy stunned and open for attack.

… Nothing is taken seriously …
When your zombie character… dies… again, I guess, they can be bought back into action the if another player can return their head to their body. Unless of course you are on your own and then you restart at the last checkpoint.

For a seasoned gamer this wouldn’t happen often and the upgradable weapons and runes keep you pretty evenly matched with the gradually stronger enemies.

Nothing is taken seriously in Zombie Vikings, even the weapons are crazy, like the bizarrely named ‘Official Unicorn Fan Club Club’ and a ‘Kitty Popnir’ which has a description that reads: “Swipes enemies when agitated. Who knew that tying a cat to a stick makes it angry?”

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From cats tied to sticks and giant fish fingers for weapons to the actual zombie characters, everything will make you smile and chuckle. Throw in the humor and competent battle mechanics and you end up having a fun brawler that reminds me of a twisted Golden Axe game. It actually has me waiting to kill an enemy until they’ve finished saying their witty comment.

Difficulty isn’t an issue for the majority of the game and only one very particular section seemed troublesome. Once I figured out how to avoid an enemy’s charge and tackle, it became insanely easy to beat that level. An increase in co-op players doesn’t seem to up the challenge that much and makes early levels a little boring.

… alive with character and style …
Visuals:
Fans of Stick it to the Man will be right at home with the art style and characters. Zoink Studios retain their cardboard cut-out look to everything from a large majority of the scenery to the characters and weapons.

I did notice some lag and screen tearing, the latter of which was fixed in a patch. Aside from that there were one or two niggles and an instance where an enemy fell into the floor, but I still easily killed him.

The amount of care and attention to the overall look and feel of Zombie Vikings is great, with rippling water, explosions, smoke, and fancy particle effects make the simple cardboard world come alive with character and style.

The unique look brings with it some problems such as a difficulty in aiming, a tricky jump, and characters being hidden behind objects in cutscenes so you end up watching a rock talk for about ten seconds.

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Audio:
Zoink Studios didn’t stop at the unique gameplay and visuals, they also went so far as to make their own distinctive and unique Paused Game song and then throw a veritable feast of humorous one-liners, quips, and good old laugh-out-loud jokes throughout the entire game.

I’m so tempted to throw in loads of quotes or maybe even a video to show off the brilliant jokes that I’ve heard but would rather you fine folks savour them during your own playthrough where it’ll fit and add to some quips.

Online/Multiplayer:
You can play with three other people in the same room, online, or even a mixture of the two. Let me just say that the online mode has got a few lag issues and minor problems but Zoink has been quick in implementing patches since the game launched which has fixed many problems.

I still had a blast playing online and on-the-couch co-op. It becomes very funny when you skewer another player and then fling them at enemy. Even when you have a different colored glow round each player there are moments when it becomes hard to keep track of your character but it never really bothered any of us because we were too busy having fun.

The game really excels with the local co-op which is where myself and the wife spent a lot of time playing. At first the look of the game put her off but once we began there was no looking back.

… a charming and funny co-op brawler …
Conclusion:
Zombie Vikings needs to be heard, and by that I am referring to the excellent comedic writing that fills this game to the brim. It also looks just like Stick it to the Man only much better and with a few new fancy effects.

Running round grabbing all the coins before your team just so you can buy a crazy new sword can make a small amount of competitiveness creep in but you can always replay levels and grind your way to the better equipment.

It had a few problems online but much of that seems to be fixed now and it sounds like Zoink is desperately working toward eradicating the few remaining bugs. What’s left is a charming and funny co-op brawler that had me laughing to the end.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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