Zombie Compound

If I were to go mad and rechristen Indie Gamer Chick as “XBLIG Zombie Game Chick” with the intent of reviewing games with a zombie theme, there are enough zombie games on XBLIG that I would be able to have a daily review of a different title for over two years.  It strikes me as odd that, on a platform like XBLIG, where there’s almost no limitations on how you can theme your project, so many developers choose to regurgitate the same shit day after day.  To some gamers, the over-saturation of zombie games (and this is hardly exclusive to XBLIG) is insulting and comes across as almost lazy.  “Gamers are sheep.  Shoehorn zombies in any game and they’ll line up to buy it.”  It’s cynical.  Does it generate sales?    Yea, maybe.  Does it generate respect?  Probably not.  Now if you put effort into your title and try to make it stand out, you can have both sales and acclaim.  Look at The Walking Dead.  If your game is just a generic shooter that was rushed through production to capitalize on a fad and generate sales off marketplace confusion, you might just get neither.

Cough.

Anyway, I thought of this while playing Zombie Compound on Xbox Live Indie Games today.  It’s a twin-stick wave-shooter with upgradable stats that’s main selling point is “shoot zombies.”  There are two notable things I can say about Zombie Compound.  #1: The game is moderately fun.  #2: Zombie Compound is more than moderately lazy.  It could have been so much better than it turned out.  I’ve played dozens of TwickS since starting Indie Gamer Chick, and my heart as grown cold towards the vast majority of them.  They’re so samey and safe and commonplace, it’s hard to warm up to them.  So I was shocked when I immediately started to enjoy Compound.  The upgradable stats angle was a good move.  It’s too bad that the developer didn’t take it further, giving the game a lifespan that even a mayfly would take pity on.

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If my count was accurate, Compound has four enemies.  None shoot projectiles, and the most advanced attack any possess is to split into three worms when they die.  Of course, once the worms are present, they behave just like a normal zombie.  The only way the game ramps up difficulty is by slightly increasing enemy speed and by shoving more and more enemies on screen.  This is negated by how easy it is to upgrade your stats.  By the tenth round of Compound, I had purchased and fully upgraded a ray gun, which can take out rows of enemies.  I had also upgraded how much money I got from each kill, which allowed me to abuse the ammo refills.  Any danger of me dying was completely lost before the game was halfway over.  Then I bought the rocket launcher, and was clearing out waves of hundreds of dudes in under a minute.  The game abruptly ends after wave 25.  No ending, no reward, just “You Win!”  And that’s where the real problem with Zombie Compound lies.  There’s no real point to it.  Each level is fighting the same four enemies over and over again with no reward to be found.  There’s no high score leaderboards, no variety, no bosses, nothing.

Of course, it ends so quickly that you really don’t have too much time to get bored.   You can also play it with up to four-players in local co-op.  In this mode, buying upgrades is significantly slowed down, which might add to the challenge a bit more.  I don’t know, because I rage quit on the idiots I was playing with.  All players share lives here, and if you choose partners who don’t grasp the idea of trying to avoid enemies, it can be frustrating.  Otherwise, I guess Zombie Compound is worth a buck.  Barely.  You’ll play it once, enjoy yourself for a bit, never touch it again, and only vaguely remember it a few days from now.  That’s sad because talent was on display here.  But the developer had the talent to make a great game and settled for making a tolerable one.  I probably shouldn’t let that bug me so much, but I hate seeing the talented show a complete lack of ambition.  Aim high, people.  It’s better to aim high and miss than aim low and barely hit the target.  Just ask this guy.

xboxboxartZombie Compound was developed by Smoodlez

Seal of Approval Large80 Microsoft Points said “why zombies and not clowns?  They’re way scarier and they’re REAL” in the making of this review.  No, seriously, I mean that.  Why?

Zombie Compound is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.  But, it could have easily been ranked much, much higher with just a couple more features.  Shame.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

2 Responses to Zombie Compound

  1. An XBLIG Guy says:

    The game looks fun, so I think it’s worth looking at it. I’ll try it later on today.

    That said, here is why I believe zombies are the #1 choice as bad guys:
    * A zombie has to be ugly, even repulsive. That is why there is no need for fancy artwork.
    * A zombie has to move awkward, giving the feeling that something is wrong, or even broken. That is why there is no need to invest in graceful animations.
    * A zombie doesn’t feel pain. That is why, when killed, any blood spatter will do, even if it is the wrong color.
    * A zombie looks like a human, without being a human. That is why people like killing them, without feeling guilty, or politically incorrect.

    Note that these comments are not towards this particular game, but to the Indie channel as a whole. As I stated before, the game looks great, and I’m thinking about trying it later on.

  2. Victor says:

    I will have to disagree with you on this game. After playing it through about 5 levels, I started losing credits. The zombies swarmed me, but I made it through that level without losing the game. I lost ALL my progress! I had maxed out my damage and firing speed. Had my speed up to 2 stars, etc… You must not have lost a credit while playing the game. Unless it was a glitch…

    Anyway, what a poor design decision if it isn’t a glitch! I quit the game in disgust and rated it a 1. How do they expect you to progress in the game if you lose your progress every time you lose a credit!?!?!? You don’t get that much cash to buy stuff in the first place! Freaking frustrating indie games!!! Fist Puncher still ROCKS!!!

    The best twin stick shooter indie zombie game I have found in xblig was Block Zombies! Now that game is super fun!

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