Zombi Review – ZombiU Reborn on PC, Xbox One and PS4

Ubisoft released its once Wii U exclusive ZombiU on Xbox One, PS4 and PC to bring the game to a wider audience. It comes in quite cheap as a digital download port of sorts and means gamers who missed out on the Wii U get to experience the survival horror first hand minus the Wii U gamepad. With the low cost, no gamepad and in a genre that is filled, is Zombi worth playing? Take a look at our Zombi review for the full picture.

Zombi Review:

Today we’re taking a look at Ubisoft’s Zombi or ZombiU reborn on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. It comes almost three years after the Wii U game and allows gamers the chance to experience the survival pitfalls of an overrun London setting armed with a cricket bat and few supplies. From the offset it’s clear this is a solitary experience although there’s hidden assistance via radio and various cries for help from other characters you meet along the way. The core gameplay revolves around navigating the tight confines of London’s East End and city streets where at any moment a zombie can jump out of the shadows and sink its teeth into your character. Armed with a cricket bat, or spiked baseball bat and some firearms with limited ammo, and you’ve got your work cut out for you. There’s an option to run away, but this in itself can lead to problems where zombies can corner and gang up on you should you hit a dead end of which there are plenty. So throughout the game there’s a singular gameplay mechanic of swinging a melee weapon and downing each zombie as you go. It works, and remains satisfying for the most part – especially when performing one hit kills. However, certain powered up zombies such as ex riot police take several hits to down which does become quite tiresome after so many encounters. That said, the tension is pretty neat where life is precious and a single zombie bite can put you in mortal danger. There’s no rejuvenating health which is fresh and instead a reliance on exploring and finding first aid packs or food to replenish it. The game obviously ditches the Wii U exclusive gamepad and has a tracking device fill the screen alongside a smaller map and radar. It’s a compromise for sure but in context of the consoles and PC feels quite natural. As a result, players spend a lot of time scanning each locale and the bodies of the fallen with the tracking device for extra items which slows the pace down and adds more tension to the mix.

There’s quite an abundance of loot to be gathered for those who go the melee route, because the bat never runs out and can pretty much take on all opponents. There’s few attack moves though which is a shame and makes the combat feel quite repetitive in the absence of some additional killing strikes. Players who use the other weaponry will find the scavenging aspects more rewarding, but at the expense of slowing the game down and perhaps taking more risks as a result.

What’s really neat about the game’s structure is how death is handled, where once killed it’s not game over but a chance to respawn in as a fresh character with story progression remaining unhindered. The only downside is losing one’s items and player stats. Those who are careful can retrieve the backpack of the downed played after taking them out in their zombie state, and if death occurs before this point then the previous backpack is lost for good. Luckily, players can easily store items in a chest back at the safe house, and there’s plenty of options to fast travel between points making the whole affair fairly easy until the last section of the story that is where fast travel gets locked off.

In terms of visuals, the graphics are reasonable although not the best looking game we’ve seen in the genre, and certainly showing off its Wii U roots here. There’s some neat locations to marvel at especially if you’re a Londoner, but mostly there’s an abundance of shifting through dark and moody corridors and rooms. The game runs pretty smoothly as a result of not having the highest levels of detail and means on PC at least there’s a steady 60 frames per second to be had from start to conclusion with little to drop it much below this. Console gamers have to make do with a locked 30 which is a shame but at least here the game runs relatively smoothly.

Audio is pretty sparse with some spot music kicking in when events heat up and the radio chatter being the mainstay of the voice work – your character doesn’t speak but rather grunts loudly with each swing of the bat. A few more samples would have been most welcome here but you can’t have everything.

Players can sink around 6 – 10 hours playing through the story on a first attempt and then there’s the unforgiving survival mode which gives players just one life to make it to the end. It’s a tough choice and one that only the most hardened players will attempt. The problem lies with a few moments where cheap deaths occur throughout the story which take players by surprise or leave them with little choices to evade. Exploding zombies, and being rushed are prime examples which are a touch unfair for the survival mode and bearable, yet frustrating playing the regular mode. Either way, there’s no co-op or multiplayer offering so replaying is an option where keeping the death toll as low as possible is something to strive for over subsequent plays.

Zombi is an neat zombie game to arrive on consoles and PC, although lacking in overall features and being quite basic as a result especially as we’ve had some similar games this year that simply do the zombie survival much better. However, as a cheap distraction with pick up and play qualities then you can’t go wrong here given the price of entry is so low. If you were intrigued by one of the Wii U’s more adult games and wanted to see what all the fuss was about, then now is your chance, although without the Wii U Pad there’s something lost here which makes the experience less thrilling than what it could be.

Score 8/10

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.