A Hard Game Without Zombies

Update: A Hard Game Without Zombies is no longer available following the great XBLIG purge. No port exists. 

The indie marketplace sure has a stiffy for games with high difficulty. One of the top selling titles is called The Impossible Game, and in lieu of doing a full review of that gem, I’m going to simply say that, despite it’s stellar soundtrack, its developer FlukeDude can choke on a bag of afterbirth.

Part of the problem with punishers is that they run out of fun before they run out of game. With that in mind, A Hard Game Without Zombies certainly lived up to it’s name. It eased me into its web of masochism by making the first dozen or so of it’s twenty-five levels highly beatable. Even the extra challenge of collecting three stars each stage was doable and I figured the name of the game was meant to be ironic. Never have I been so wrong.


1000 Spikes: Crappy Version.

A Hard Game Without Zombies is maddening by game’s end, and that’s really a shame because it has the charm of an early 80s coin-op and the graphics to match. The jumping physics are functional but feel light. When I realized that releasing the stick mid-jump caused your character to lose momentum, it made things down-right breezy for a while, and that’s actually a good thing. It likely did need a little more fine-tuning but it’s not at all broken and if you die it’s due to your lack of super-human skills.

You press any of the four face-buttons to jump and hold the left trigger to dash. There’s a double-jump feature too. The control scheme had my hand cramping in a way that will not be entirely unfamiliar to Guitar Hero fans. As a rule of thumb I think any game that causes physical pain should be sent to detention for some refinement. Any game that throws in psychological pain on top of that needs to see the principal immediately. Developer MasterGroke seems to have talent and the occasional bug, like being able to stick to walls, could be forgiven if he hadn’t decided to be such a bastard by making a game where aggravation is it’s primary selling point.

And thus my prophecy came true: I had grown to hate A Hard Game Without Zombies by game’s end. And not in a good way, like Aban Hawkins & the 1000 Spikes. At least I still felt like I had accomplished something with that one. Without Zombies was so boring that finishing felt less like victory and more like I had finished serving my time.  It didn’t start that way either. I really was enjoying myself, even as the difficulty ramped up. It just didn’t last. My advice to XBLIG developers is if you make a game that takes a running count of how many times you die (446 for me on this one) then your game is likely going to suck more than vacuum cleaner powered by a black hole.

If you’re into this sort of thing, you have two options: go buy a 1600 Microsoft Point card for $20, use it to buy twenty punishers, and get off feeling like you are shit. Option two is put that $20 towards a hooker who will agree to spank you. You’ll still feel like you are shit afterwards but at least you might not die a virgin.

xboxboxartA Hard Game Without Zombies was developed by MasterGroke

80 Microsoft Points were spanked in the making of this review.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

4 Responses to A Hard Game Without Zombies

  1. MasterGroke says:

    Hi I’m the developer of this game, and all I have to say is….I’m sorry. I wanted to create a really hard game but I realize now that when I created the game I focused on the difficulty than the actual game play. I also think I became “too” good at the game since I had to spend so much time creating different levels and testing them. This made me far better at the game then anyone else so a challenge I thought was hard became almost impossible for anyone else.

    Anyway thanks for the review, I will try to take your critique and make my next game better.(you can get that one for free since I liked this review even though it was negative, and because you feel like you wasted 80ms points on this game)

    • Well I don’t know if you’ll still read this, but I’ve just been playing your game and I want to say a couple of things.

      Firstly, all credit to you for graciously taking the criticism. It takes some strength of character to not get defensive – to hold your hands up and say “yeah, I made some mistakes there”.

      Secondly, I think the game has potential. I haven’t got to the later stages yet, so I can’t say how bad it gets, but in places the level designs can be pretty decent. Personally I’m also quite fond of the ability to accelerate in the air AFTER jumping. It’s a nice touch.

      Not a GREAT game, it’s true, but no one gets everything right the first time. Hopefully you’ll make another game, and I’ll check that out too.

    • This was the first ever time a developer contacted me following a review. This post is actually the post that changed my life forever. This is the moment I found out that I had been discovered by the XBLIG development community. Within the next two weeks, IGC, before its first month was over, was the most read Xbox Live Indie Game site in the world.

  2. Kairi Vice says:

    I felt compelled to discuss this further with MasterGroke privately, but I would like to publicly state that I felt he took my criticism with good grace and I do wish him further luck with his next game, which I will be paying for out of my own pocket, as is my policy.

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