I haven’t finished Ubisoft’s Zombi yet. Scratch that; I can’t finish it, unless I restart from the beginning. Unfortunately, I’m part of the chosen few; the unlucky ones that you read about but let out a collective sigh of relief with the rest of the gaming world that it didn’t happen to you: I ran into a game breaking glitch.
And it was so effective that it essentially barred me from completing the game; a bug so frustrating that I actually went through the stages of grief, beginning with disbelief, anger and now, acceptance. I don’t know when or if I’ll restart; the gaming world continues to move forward despite my own grievances. There are other games to play; other games to review.
What I find really disappointing is that this issue is neither new, nor unique. I was able to search the Internet to read horror stories of other players who suffered the same fate as I did, but in the original 2012 WiiU release. For those who don’t know, Zombi is an Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows port of ZombiU, the wildly popular first-person survival horror game built specifically with the WiiU in mind. I never played the original, so I embarked on this journey through the British apocalypse as if it was a fresh title (and for those wondering, I played it on the Xbox One) and not a port. However, the WiiU’s GamePad was integral to the original and Ubisoft streamlined the game into a single screen experience for it’s latest release, and on that, they did a darn good job. Even the graphics are pretty good for a three year old game; and even if they weren’t, it wouldn’t of detracted from this atmospheric horror game. The ambience more than compensates, and my only graphical “plight” was with the survivors’ faces.
But carrying a bug that was known from the original to the port? That is really bad.
This is actually the second draft of my review of Zombi, the first praising it, which I still do –to a certain extent. Up until my digital world crashed all around me, I kept thinking about how awesome the game was. To be fair, the game IS awesome. In all honesty, it’s probably the most fun I’ve had playing a zombie survival game since Left 4 Dead was released. I know some people claim that we’ve reached “peak zombification” in pop culture, but we haven’t. I love zombies, and this game does it really well and really uniquely. Set in London 2012, the city is overrun by zombie-esque disease that was predicted by the true historical figure John Dee back in the 17th century. A plague so disastrous that it has brought Britain down to its knees. Death and desolation is everywhere. You actually feel the weight of this catastrophe bearing down on you, strangling you, leaving a claustrophobic aura lingering about as you move through the city trying to survive.
You play as a lone survivor who’s aided by a mysterious voice overlord called the “Prepper” who helps you survive (and since I couldn’t finish the game, I never found out who he is or why helped me – sad face). While this sounds like your run-of-the-mill survival game, it breaks away in that when you die (and die you will), your character is permanently dead (or undead huehuehue). You will instead spawn as a new survivor in your safe house, bearing a new face and a new identity. My latest survivor is 27-year-old Wilma the Poet who replaced 28-year-old Bob the Superintendent. The survivors are unique, and each is just a regular person trying to make their way through this disaster. However, when you die, all your equipment stays on the departed while you respawn with a cricket bat and a pistol with 6 bullets. You want all your hard-earned gear back? You have to retrace your steps and find the previous survivor. The game has many different weapons, ranging from various melees to different shotguns, assault rifles and carbines. So no matter if you die once, or die twenty times, you’ll want to trek back and snatch your goodies back. If you die again before retrieving your stuff, you lose everything and will have to find it all again. While that in itself is challenging enough since you’ll have to fend off zombies with the lowest quality weapons the game has to offer, you also might have to fight the (un)dead survivor. If you die at the hands of a zombie, whether they bite your or beat you to death, your character will be zombified. If you survived long enough and racked up enough points, the survivor will turn into a flaming red super zombie that is hard really hard to kill, especially if he has his friends with him. And that’s the beauty of this game. One on one, all the zombies are manageable, even with a crappy weapon. It’s when there are multiple ones that surround you that death is imminent. You really have to strategize your attack, and manage your resources properly to beat them. While you make think that some of the zombies move at such a glacial pace that they pose no threat; think again. Their power lies in numbers, and the game doesn’t shy away from tossing half a dozen of them at you at once. The guns and melee weapons are fairly easy to use and, obviously, headshots are what you want. The more you kill with the same weapon, the more levels you gain and the better your weapon will be. That is until you die and you start at zero.
You can also die at the hand of the environment (or if you’re like me, death by self), which is actually a good death since your character doesn’t come back, making it way easier to loot yourself. I’ve fallen off ledges, crisped myself with a Molotov and stepped on the same mine that I had strategically placed a moment earlier while laughing maniacally and eagerly awaiting for zombies to blow up. Alas, I ended up ruining my own plan. Sometimes we truly are our own worse enemies.
The game also does horror really well. There were legit moments where Zombi terrified me. Whether there’s a surprise zombie around the corner, or you’re being chased by a mob, you’ll definitely come across a moment that’ll make you sweat. Combine that with a superb atmosphere, and I have a feeling that this game will eventually become a cult classic amongst those who revere the genre.
But, there’s still that problem of ‘The Bug’. The big kahuna. I sincerely put in about four hours trying to figure a way around it, or trying to trick the game into letting me continue. The game only has one save, so there’s no way to reload (which is cool since it really forces you to be careful while you play). It wouldn’t budge. I even tried the 2015 version of blowing on a cartridge: quitting the game and restarting my console in one shot. Nope.
I’m hoping a patch will fix this because I am more than certain that I won’t be the last hopeless victim with an itch that can’t be scratched.
So ultimately, should you buy it? At a cool twenty bucks ($20), the answer should have been a no-brainer: if you’re a fan of this genre and are up for a challenge, then absolutely pick it up. And I’m not necessarily saying you shouldn’t. The game was (and is) fantastic up until, well, the end. And a lot of games run into various sorts of problems all the time, and it’s basically the luck of the draw whether you’ll be affected or not. However, the fact that this glitch was carried over from 2012 disappoints me. This should have been taken care of. But it wasn’t; it’s still here. That in isolation is enough to dissuade anyone from picking it up until these matters are taken care of. Until then, I say stay away.
Zombi is available on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows. Check out the launch trailer below: