OMG-Z FTW YOLO
OMG-Z has been resurrected from the grave and lurching toward a PC near you. You may remember this title as a PS mini released, initially, for the PSP (and later the Vita) way back in 2011. A few years and a multitude of zombie themed titles later developer, Laughing Jackal has brought it to Steam with added levels and a larger array of undead to paint the playfield with.
As a lone soldier fighting his way through hordes of the walking dead, you must make your way unscathed to a helicopter and flee the area. Unlike most zombie themed games (that don’t feature snowball spitting flora) OMG-Z is a single screen, mostly black and white affair that will test your puzzle skills far more than your agility or ability to perform a head-shot, and is much more akin to Bust-A-Move than Left 4 Dead.
The allure of the game is in its simplicity – shoot a zombie and it blows up. If another zombie is in close enough proximity, it too will explode and so forth – creating a chain reaction that coats the grey tones of the hand drawn backgrounds a pleasing pixellated red.
Armed with only a single rifle and three ‘pathogenic’ bullets to keep you from joining the ranks of the undead, you must clear enough zombies from the screen to earn a medal and continue to the next level. Ranging from bronze to platinum, medals are given based on the percentage of undead cleared per screen. The amount and type of medals dictates how many levels open up and are available to progress through. With each medal, you earn cash to spend on upgrading your weapon and your zombie’s abilities.
About two-thirds of the way in we were forced to go back to previous levels and earn Platinum medals before any new levels opened up. This meant killing one hundred percent of the zombies per screen with a limited amount of ammo. By this time however, our zombies were heavily upgraded and our ammo count had grown to five out of a possible six and we were feeling like the Terminator, had he been written into a George Romero movie. We enjoyed the challenge and sense of accomplishment of fully completing and sometimes dominating earlier levels that at the time could be quite frustrating.
The zombies themselves come in eight varieties (upped from the five types of the PS mini version) and display unique qualities when shot, such as melting into a pool of acid or sending their head flying mortar style into a group of baddies, among many others. Waiting for zombie types that complement one another to cluster together before taking your shot is the strategy and fun of the game. With a well placed shot it’s possible to clear an entire screen with only one bullet, resulting in a fireworks like display of scattered limbs and guttural moans. The ensuing satisfaction is empowering and fuels you to find better combos and bigger explosions with each new level and upgrade.
The only thing we were disappointed with in OMG-Z is the lacklustre audio. There appears to only be about three or so music “tracks” (short loops would be a better description) that play intermittently or not at all and feel so disparate from one another that the most puzzling part of this puzzle game is why they’re included in the same game. The zombies have (maybe) one unique sound apiece and share a couple of common grunts but the “squish” of zombies exploding is spot on and hearing it once makes you want to hear it again and again.
The portable roots of OMG-Z make for a fast paced game with each level taking anywhere from a few seconds to no more than a few minutes. Gamepad support is there for traditionalists but after utilizing the added keyboard and mouse option we can’t see playing it any other way. It also sports a windowed display option that’s great for getting in a few levels between tweets or writing paragraphs for a video game review.
While it isn’t perfect, OMG-Zombies! is a bloody orgy of viscera and strategy that engages and rewards your tasty, tasty brain. If you only get bitten by one zombie game this year, this one comes highly recommended.