Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Zombies In Your Backyard

Though they're essentially harbingers of the apocalypse and, thus, to be avoided at all costs, zombies have become rather popular. And, in the case of most zombie-based video games, your task is to KILL the undead buggers - as much as you can kill something that's more or less already dead. Zombies In Your Backyard embodies the best of this gung-ho mentality.


Like so many zombie movies before it, Zombies In Your Backyard focuses on a) massive hordes of flesh-eating zombies and b) a single survivor who's waiting for rescue, in this case in the form of a helicopter. Unlike most zombie movies, though, he truly IS alone until help comes - and he's stuck in a house that's woefully under-barricaded for a horrendous ten days.

Yep. It's zombies. Stuck in one spot, protecting a house that consists of a little eating area, two sets of stairs and a front and back lawn, you need to blow zombies away as they run in to eat your little dude. Kill enough zombies and you'll earn money to buy new weapons, ammo and health from... who knows. Who cares. It's all good.


Because you're being constantly bombarded by zombies on all sides (which is, fortunately, just two sides), controls are pretty damn important in Zombies In Your Backyard. Mess up a few too many times and you're toast.

I was moderately frustrated by the control scheme used in this game. It pairs WASD and a mouse to move around and fire, and that in and of itself wasn't troublesome - until you brought in more weapons. You can change your equipped weapon by hitting 1 to 6 on the keyboard, and I was CONSTANTLY hitting those numbers by accident while trying to jump or otherwise move around. I would've preferred a little more distance between movement and weapon changing.

Other than that, the controls worked well enough. My aiming reticule went wonky a few times while tracking zombies, but that's to be expected when you combine a mouse and a Flash game.


Zombies In Your Backyard is okay. It has some nice, smooth animations, and the layout of the stage isn't bad, given the purpose of the game, but... there's no variety. At all. You're always stuck in your house, fighting wave after wave of the same three zombie types. The game isn't long, so this is hardly a huge issue, though the visuals do get a teensy bit tedious by the tenth day. Give the same zombie types different coloured shirts for some variety, perhaps?


The same song loops throughout the duration of Zombies In Your Backyard, and it's an ominous horror-esque bass tune that I can fully appreciate. And, again, the game shouldn't take more than twenty minutes to complete, so you don't really need other tracks. There's also a deep, sinister voice that booms out at the beginning of each level, adding a nice level of doom-and-gloom cheese to a solid zombie homage.

Challenge Rating

Given the amount of health you have and the fact that you can double jump, Zombies In Your Backyard isn't TOO hard. The key is making sure that you properly distribute your ammo between levels, using the right weapons against the right enemies. I liked that every gun (except perhaps the handgun, which petered out after the first five levels) remained consistently useful throughout the game, as ammo stores on each level are limited.

I would argue, however, that Zombies In Your Backyard is anticlimactic. By the time you reach the end of the game you have access to the powerful minigun which has a disgusting amount of ammo, enough that the rest of the guns are thoroughly outclassed. The tenth day should not be as easy as it is, and given the length of the levels and the size of the waves you pretty much need the minigun to survive. The balance was perfect up to that point - what happened?


Zombies In Your Backyard is a good time waster for a lunch break. It's tough but not unreasonably so, and sports enough polish to warrant a good review. The game is especially impressive in that it's the first Flash venture released by programmer Schulles, and I look forward to his future submissions.


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