Some of you will remember a title on the SNES released by some small time company (snowstorm? hailware?) where you play three vikings. Each of them have abilities that the others did not, and were able to overcome a variety of obstacles. Individually they would be easily overcome but together they were an indomitable, mead-swilling force of nature that would punch its way through any level mechanics. I remember playing this title with friends years later (like 4) in high school. More than the fact that this game was a release by the creators of one of my favorite childhood titles about mutual human-orc slaughter, I was amazed by how much fun this game was even while we were in the heat of our PS2 and N64 glory.
3 Dead Zed, like that lost title, shares many of the same basic theories and elements, even if it differs in its appetite. Specifically, this is a game about three brain-munching heroes (?) that fight there way out of the stomach of their metaphorical mother. It’s a lot of fun. Technically there is only one main character with three sides. You have three zombies smashed haphazardly into one and the ability to swap between forms. Each of the forms has its strengths and weaknesses. Your primary for is standard zombie: he runs, he drools, he eats brains. You control this character to pick up small objects, attack people, and generally be a zombie. The second form is the fast zombie. He wears a cape, goggles and possibly also a diaper. I mean, it’s either a diaper or underpants. Either way, this guy runs really fast, jumps really high and is lanky. He can crawl into vents as well. He is unable to attack anyone, though, and takes hits as well as a tin foil bumper. Your final form is that of a strong zombie. This she-hulk of an undead murder-machine can pick up large objects deal devastating damage, knock in walls tear up floors, and generally make holes where they normally don’t exist. She also takes damage really well, wading through corridors of toxic gasses, absorbing magazines worth of ammunition like a giant, green bullet sponge. Granted, you will need every last bit of that damage resistance since she could only move slower if she were going backwards.
Should you find yourself on the receiving end of hostilities, you might want to grab the nearest scientist and pop the cork on those fresh, juicy brains. Collecting brains is how you heal yourself, so there are usually a number of useless scientists around. Some are even elderly, too, so that’s fucked up and hysterical. After a while, though, you become completely inured to the slaughter of the elderly. While there are some combatants at first, you soon find yourself knee-deep in the entrails of security guards and zombie-focused death squads out for your gooey, yellow blood. Among these perils, there are also the myriad of unfortunately-placed buzzsaws, smashing pistons, burning lasers and guard-bots.
In some other games, you will have to face down a company filled with faceless and unethical scientists that created some monster that duplicitously promises you cake. In this game you are the monster created by unethical scientists that thought cake would work in the beginning. Yes, they throw a party for you to celebrate your graduation from testing. Honestly, these morons have it coming. After wading through an ocean of organs, your characters find themselves unraveling the sins of an obliviously evil organization. Among the skeletons in their closet is a project that mysteriously involves forcing tin-foil hats onto magical teleporting cats. Granted they have the tell-tale deedly-bob of an extra-terrestrial animal. There is also the fucking teleporting. That is a pretty obvious fucking sign. Throughout the game you can locate abandoned work stations. After tearing apart the occupant, you can listen to voice logs about various topics: feral cats, the zombie project, turning you into some kind of slave. You know, the usual. These desks allow you to figure out what terrible machinations brought you to this state.
The art style of this game is jarringly comedic and smacks of John Kricfalusi’s, the creator of Ren and Stimpy, influence. There is a sort of measured insanity alongside generous mediocrity, too, which makes me flashback to Office Space. Not to mention the music is a lot like something you might encounter in an elevator. All of these elements combine with the puzzles and obstacles to create a game that gets you laughing and having fun when you don’t want to tear apart a printer in an open field. Gameplay is fluid, too, and you find yourself swapping forms mid-air at some points to climb a ladder here or avoid a whirring buzzsaw with relative ease by the end. The challenges scale well, too. The first area is an office, and it goes from easy to hard in the matter of seconds. For a game about eating brains, it sure does demand you use yours a lot. It’s not just soaring through levels of insanity, there are some puzzles that your just won’t get right away. Then you go “O fucking duh!” and complete a puzzle that gets you past 70% of the obstacles in the area. After the office you go into a factory setting where things get pretty easy. Honestly, for the office I spent a good 6 hours in there. The factory was 2 hours at most. Granted, after you get used to the game, things seem a lot easier, so there is the acclimation factor. Once you are fully acclimated, however, the game takes its fucking liberties in the last act. I am not even sure what kind of fucking place I am in at this point, but it is tough as shit. I die no less than twice every minute or two.
Another fun part of the game is the fact that it is fully voiced, even if the voice actors were convinced 3DZ’s primary playerbase would consist of deaf people. I also noted a few bugs here and there, but not enough to make a real difference. Overall, this is a great game with a dark and quirky sense of humor. Every challenge you come against has a logical solution. I was also frustrated to discover that the game is programmed to work with mouse and keyboard and the xbone controller, but not a DS4. I am not springing for the xboner, so I had to play it on mouse and keyboard. But the PC controls are responsive and simple, so it wasn’t that big a deal. In a lot of places where bigger developers might have slacked off, Gentleman Quid Studio showed its tact and capability. At the reasonable price of 5.99$ on Steam, this is a great game that is hard to beat, especially to the puzzle-lover. Not to mention it takes a fun twist on zombies and makes them into something I might consider having as a stuffed animal. Not to mention it is nice to have a fucking indie game that has enough balls to just fucking release. Not pre-release, not episodic. Just fucking out there.
Among this game’s features, I was most aggravated by the puns. In a fucking game where you main the elderly and have three people mashed into one zombie, the unconscionable puns were my biggest fucking gripe. That and the lack of fucking dualshock 4 support. Bastards. Maybe next time they will be more considerate of those who don’t want a media center instead of a fucking gaming console. Whatever. I will train some ninja monkeys to hunt them down, perhaps. I am still working on a number of other deceptively cuddly animals to murder people in the middle of the night.