To my knowledge there is only one game that puts the gamer into the puss filled shoes of the walking dead (disregarding L4D’s multiplayer mode of course) and that is ‘Stubbs the Zombie in a rebel without a pulse’. Quite why this is the situation I don’t know (maybe people just want to shoot things all day long?) because ‘Stubbs’ was actually a very good game with real character and a sense of humour.
Like the undead themselves though he was pushed to the side and left to decompose…
…not any more as there is a new zombie simulator on the block and it wants to bring back good old-fashioned zombie apocolypse mongering. However is this game worth shuffling with or does it deserve a bullet to the brain?
Let’s get the fundamentals out of the way. ‘Hungry Horde’ is your classic score based arcade game against the clock the premise is simple you start with 60 secs and 2 zombies, you must race around eating people in order to grow your horde and break through the barricades to avoid the government mandated nuke!
Taking influence from the ‘Katamari’ series of games and borrowing the control scheme from ‘Brothers: A tale of two sons’ the game is undoubtedly fun and surprisingly strategic. The first run is a tutorial outlining what you can do; after that you’re on you own. After several pitiful runs you’ll realise that the most fundamental of your abilities is the option to split your horde into two groups (which are controlled independently from one another on an analogue stick each). The ability to collect brains and humans simultaneously is the only way to succeed in your mission to grow a massive horde.
Like ‘Brothers’ this control scheme is incredibly alien for the first few goes but when you nail it, it is surprisingly eloquent and opens up the game for some pincer movements to successfully claim those soldiers who are decimating your numbers. It’s satisfying to beat your previous high score because you were able to do things that little bit more efficiently because of the knowledge gained from previous failure.
Your horde has four powers on its side to help turn the tide; these are dash, shield, grab and stun. These powers make little real sense but do offer up a number of ways to tackle situations that arise during game play, each have benefits and downfalls. While you must utilise each one at the correct time there is very little feedback on which is the most effective at what time making decisions hard to make for the wrong reasons. While I wouldn’t say they change the game, they certainly help to flesh it out a little (sorry for the pun).
Nosebleed interactive have also added a few mini-games in there to break up the gameplay and keep you interested and these range from a top down shooter (a zombie playing a game, as a human, shooting zombies?), to whack-a-mole and a bizarre snake/disco/conga hybrid. Generally speaking these mini games are of a good quality and are fun while they last, they also show off the comedic stylings of the developer and the jokes are all appreciated. Overall ‘Hungry Horde’ is all very light-hearted and enjoyable…but there are a string of fundamental errors on show here too.
The [loading…] bad.
The first issue is the incredibly long loading times. I’m talking ‘Destiny’ style long; first boot is TWO MINUTES; between the main menu and your first run it is ONE MINUTE, even just restarting a failed run it is 30-45 seconds (i’m not sure why it sometimes takes longer) this is a time that’s unacceptable on a home console, but on a handheld ‘quick-fix’ title its inexcusable! For a game that relies on the ‘one more go’ factor this dampens your enthusiasm. Most of your game time will be spent looking at loading screens and reading the same hints and tips over and over again. This is no quick fix gaming, and certainly won’t rival ‘Pix’ for sustained play.
Likewise the mini games are implemented in a very strange way. In game you’ll pick up a large present and be whisked into your meta-game, again there is loading and it is just jarring and ruins the flow and momentum you were building. Surely there is a more eloquent way of incorporating these into the game? Perhaps as a bonus at the end of particularly good runs as a way to increase your score?
For the first 40 minutes I was enamored with ‘Hungry Horde’. I was prepared to look past the loading times and enjoy it for the throwaway enjoyment and fun it offers. Despite the developers stating that this game is ‘procedurally-generated’ it is really rearranging tiles each time. This quickly leads to deja vu kicking in sooner than you’d like. To get into the very high score you’ll need to exercise your memory more than your reflexes. While this is true of many puzzlers like ‘Pix the Cat’; ‘Hungry Horde’ lacks the nuance, subtlety and skill of it’s contemporary. Simply put – you never feel that you are getting better at the game – that is inexcusable.
It’s a shame that ‘Hungry Horde’ isn’t a better game. It is certainly a case of an inexperienced developer trying to cram too much variety at the expensive of core mechanics.
I really wanted to love this game, but I just cannot…it’s certainly worth playing as it’s free download (currently on PS Plus), but as download of £10 I cannot recommend it.
Like real zombies; it wears out it’s welcome far too quickly. The VITA has better puzzlers and action games. Apart from short lived fun and enjoyment there is really nothing here to recommend it; except its price tag.