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A creative choice-based zombie combat game, September 2, 2022
The zombie apocalypse came and killed your parents. Then it killed your spouse. The only person left is your baby. Using a shack as shelter you will fight tooth and nail to keep the zombies at bay. Hopefully the two of you will survive the night.
This is an incredibly creative use of ChoiceScript. Currently it is the first one that I have encountered where the player has free range of movement to roam around with north, south, east, and west directions. Rather than presenting the player with list of story options such as "Choose to defend the baby" or "Ambush the zombies from the north" the game has the player actively fight the zombies each step of the way. It instead uses “Go north,” “East some food,” or “Fire shotgun” options that require the player to strategize as they defend against each zombie that approaches the house. While the player cannot examine individual things in each area they can scavenge for supplies, rest, or eat. This is such a unique gameplay approach for this story format.
There are four rooms in the house, one room (randomly chosen) containing the baby. The gameplay’s core objective is to protect the baby from the zombies. You go from room to room killing zombies with an axe or shotgun before they can shuffle to the baby’s crib. There is a stats page that tells lists your energy levels, inventory, and number of zombies remaining in the wave. The player "Levels Up" after defeating each wave of zombies. Between each wave you can scavenge for shotgun shells and cans of food. I had fun coordinating these different aspects of gameplay.
There is no way of saving the game nor are there checkpoints that let you return to the previous level. It would have been helpful if these features were available because the gameplay can become repetitive. My initial strategy (Spoiler - click to show) was to shoot zombies when they were three to two steps outside of the house and axe those that entered the house or were right outside the window. I found it helpful that the game alerts the player to the number of steps a zombie has before it enters the house. Each time I cleared a room I would immediately return to the baby’s room to see if any zombies snuck in.
At one point I ran out of energy and could no longer move to other rooms. I also had no food. The only thing I could do was rest. My strategy was to wait in the baby’s room and simply wait for the zombies to come to me. This allowed me to alternate between attacking a zombie with the axe and resting. This was so effective that I continued to do this even when my energy levels were no longer an issue.
The story is your standard zombie apocalypse narrative about a nondescript virus turning people into zombies which results in survivors having to constantly fend off wave of zombie attacks. This familiar storyline in zombie games does not necessarily need too many details to feel like a finished piece, especially if you enjoy the classic elements of the genre but it certainly does not hurt when authors choose to incorporate a more complex story. Zombie Blast 2023 sticks to the basics which is just fine.
The only story is about the protagonist’s desire to protect their baby after losing everyone else. The entire gameplay spans over one night. Once you (Spoiler - click to show) complete Level 9 the game declares that you made it to morning and awards you the “Survive the night” achievement worth 25 points. The game then asks if you want to continue playing or just to end it right there. I believe that this achievement means that you have “won” the game. It definitely felt like an achievement!
This is a nicely stylized ChoiceScript game. The top portion for the story text is light orange while the menu choices are shown in black with an orange border. All of this is set against a black background. I liked this look because the colours make it stand out from other ChoiceScript games that I have played. ChoiceScript games are something that can be enjoyed with or without fancy visual effects, but it is always fun to see when authors experiment. The game also uses fun icons to illustrate player choices such as a cereal bowl next to the “Eat some food” option. It adds just a little bit of pizzazz without being distracting.
This game is a great concept with some novel features but has characteristics that might frustrate players, particularly not being able to save or return to checkpoints. But at the same note it is incredibly entertaining and gives the player a chance to strategize. I recommend Zombie Blast 2023 if you are interested in the zombie genre, looking for gameplay with combat, or curious to see a creative application of ChoiceScript.