Rock Zombie is an indie side-scrolling brawler similar to arcade classics like Final Fight and TMNT: Turtles in Time. However, unlike those classic games Rock Zombie lacks any charm or quality.
The game features three heroines who are rock stars who are trying to stop a zombie apocalypse in a super cheesy, boring “story”. Said “story” will have you facing off various types of zombies and a few other types of enemies, all set to a mind numbing rock/metal soundtrack. Hurray!?
Since this is an indie game, you shouldn’t expect top of the line graphics but most indie game developers hide their shortcomings through a clever art style…the developers of Rock Zombie took the easy route and used ugly CG graphics. The character models all look unfinished, particularly the three playable characters who look like they’re made of Play-Doh. The environments are nothing to brag about either as they’re all drab and generic looking. The game’s color palette is pretty drab with weird neon colors everywhere to try and make the game more colorful; the neon colors seem like they were added after the developers realized the game looked so boring.
One of the best parts of the old school beat ’em up games were the animations; Haggar’s pile driver, Colossus’s power-up move, etc… Well, the team behind Rock Zombie didn’t get the message as the animations in the game are all so utterly boring. It’s just all so boring, there’s so many interesting things they could’ve done animation wise with this concept that they just didn’t do; the heroes could’ve done loud guitar riffs that make zombies’ heads explodes, they could’ve used dance moves from iconic rockers or they could’ve even done something as simple as a spin move using their guitar.
The developers didn’t really do anything to make this game stand out; which is a shame because they could’ve used the cover art of various metal bands for inspiration of what the graphics could’ve been.
The sound design is nothing to write home about either. The game is set to the most generic, awful rock music; I had to turn off the music after five minutes because it was so bad. This game could’ve had an awesome soundtrack if they could’ve gotten a better composer or even used licensed rock/metal music but the developers clearly didn’t care or had enough money to do so.
The rest of the sound is pretty run of the mill stuff; grunts from the heroes, moans from the zombies, generic explosions and fire noises, etc… It would’ve been impressive if the developers somehow messed this part up, but luckily they didn’t.
However, the sounds you get when you pick-up collectibles are… bizarre. Record scratches and a woman singing “Oooh”, that sounds like it belongs more in a R&B song than a rock song. I have no idea what they were thinking when choosing the sounds for these collectibles.
You think the game play would be the one area that Rock Zombie gets right, but it doesn’t. The game play is super generic; there’s a Heavy attack, a light attack and a ranged attack that you can only use after building it up for a bit. There’s a weak combo system in place that has you pressing multiple buttons in a row for a brief power-up, but only a couple of them are actually useful. The complaints I had with the animations could’ve helped here too, some unique special moves could’ve made this stand-out and actually be fun, but the developers chose the bare minimum.
The developers tried to spice up the game play by throwing in vehicle levels; but they’re boring levels that have the player on a rail with the main objective just being to run into zombies and avoid hitting objects. Wow, so much fun.
The levels are super boring and have no personality; a burning city street that feels oddly similar to Raccoon City, a sewer, a weird kitchen area, etc… Once again the developers could’ve done some really interesting levels based on various types of rock/metal, various songs or even homages to famous bands. But the developers chose to take the most boring route possible.
Rock Zombie is a game that in-concept had a lot of potential. But the developers squandered that potential through awful graphics, a migraine-inducing soundtrack and boring game play. Perhaps, under a more imaginative development team this idea could’ve been something special, but we’re left with this awful game that you should definitely avoid.