Concerned politicians and other groups might say video games desensitize us to violence, but I’m actually starting to feel sorry for zombies. Every month without fail, I see several new indie zombie shooters. Like a mindless consumer (which zombies are often said to represent), I am suckered into purchasing at least one, if not two, of these shooters each month. When I think about how many zombies I’ve (justifiably) killed in video games, there’s a part of me that says “Stop, you’ve done more than enough.” Then comes another zombie shooter that catches my eye, and the mindless, gratuitous cycle continues.
Escape from Zombie City, developed by Tom Create, is like a top-down version of Dead Pixels. The main difference between the two is that Escape from Zombie City doesn’t give a damn about trying to be an RPG with leveling, shops, and the like. Other than that, Escape from Zombie City and Dead Pixels are quite similar — the goal in both is to make your way through zombies as you travel in a line from point A to point B. An obvious improvement in Escape from Zombie City is the laser aiming borrowed from its 3-D brother, Resident Evil 4. Still, Dead Pixels is generally more atmospheric and exciting.
From a nostalgic standpoint, I like the old-school touches in Escape from Zombie City. Your pistol has unlimited ammo (unlike the stronger weapons). The main track in the game sounds like an unreleased song from Chrono Trigger. The stages have references to classic horror directors like George A. Romero and Dario Argento. The last boss (on normal difficulty, anyway) is an unfair cluster of shit that you beat through attrition rather than skill. There are even motorcycle stages that are unrepentantly idiotic.
Yep, the good ole days of action gaming haven’t been forgotten by Tom Create. The problem is that Escape from Zombie City is merely an exercise without lasting rewards. Imagine doing push ups again and again and again but never gaining muscle. That’s what playing the latest indie zombie shooter is like.
If you want to waste your time by supporting the endless market for time-wasting zombie stuff, you can spend $4 to play Escape from Zombie City. Is it a bad game? Not necessarily. But I’m starting to question why I have the urge to kill zombies incessantly. It’s rarely satisfactory like a game of Contra.