Zombies. The word alone carries a hell of a lot of weight as it is. Dozens of games have tried to capitalize on that word by creating the most fiercesome, scary or overwhelming zombie games, like Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, ZombiU and Dead Island. More often than not, zombie games usually play on the fantasy that we’ll survive the initial invasion and that it’s up to us to eliminate the threat and save the world. Rarely do we get the chance to play the zombie. And even more rarely do we get the chance to play the zombie in a comedic fashion. The Hungry Horde is both these factors, but does it hold up or fall flat?
The Hungry Horde is such an odd game, not in the sense off its oddness, but rather, it’s the type of game I’m not sure if I like or dislike. There are parts of the game that I love, and parts that I despise. So coming up with a collective thought is a little difficult.
The basic concept of the game is to recruit as many zombies before your horde is nuked by the humans. You start off as two wayward zombies who’ve risen from their graves in an attempt to start the zompocalypse. However, the second you pass the checkpoint that puts you on your hunt, a countdown clock starts. When you run out of time, a nuclear bomb goes off, ending your reign of terror. However, your clock is about 50 seconds. Not very long is it? You can extend your time by killing humans and turning them into zombies and increasing the size of your horde. Each kill earns you 1.5 seconds. You get more time when you complete various mini-games in the area.
It’s not all fun, games and recruiting. You see, the humans aren’t keen on you killing them, so they’ve dispatched various people to get rid of you, like cops, SWAT, soldiers and the FBI. These guys can really hamper the size of your horde, which affects how much damage you can inflict. To make things more interesting for you, you can split your horde with your right analogue stick. This means double the trouble. However, it’s much harder to control two hordes than one. Some actions require two hordes so it’s necessary for you to acclimate yourself with it.
If your run is successful, i.e., you’re not nuked by the time you get to the end, you’ll face off with one of two bosses. When you’re done, you’ll start the next day with a few more seconds added to your last second count. So if you managed to get through by the skin of your teeth in night 1, you’re not going to get very far in night 2.
The tight timing of the game makes it very frustrating. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out routes, catch humans, rake up kills and collect brains (which are used for your power ups). This means you’ll lose… a lot. To make things worse, there’s not a massive variety of areas for you to explore, you can’t explore it properly because the time is so strict and it just gets really boring, really quickly.
Each route is randomly generated, so there’s not much in terms of progression. It’s really just a “how long can you last” sort of thing. And the answer is usually: “not very long.”
Challenges are added to the main game to give it some extra longevity. Some of these challenges are easy, while others are unbearably difficult. Completing challenges, surviving nights and completing mini-games are needed to collect stickers. This is also used to add some life to the game. In order to unlock special features, you need to collect stickers and place them in your in-game sticker book.
Initially the look of the game might put you off, but there’s something unique and funny with having blockheaded characters, especially when you start recognizing some of them. The developers have done a great job in stuffing the game with numerous cameos and easter eggs. I won’t spoil them all, but there’s an FBI agent that looks remarkably like Leon S. Kennedy and a soldier that looks like Naked Snake. Most of the trophies in the game are nods to various pop culture themes and games, like the “who wins a fight between plants and zombies”, “50 Shades of Green” and “I would walk 500 miles” trophies.
Another big plus of the game is the extra menu. I’ve spent a lot of time playing the mini-games and even spent some time creating my own character in the character create menu. The mini-games, unlike the main game, are really addictive and fun. There is the Conga game, which is basically Snake, but with Zombies. Zombat, a game where you fight zombies with a single soldier; Pacifist Island, a game were you play a lonesome zombie that must outrun all the human enemies and try to kill them without actually injuring them; and a few more.
On the technical side of things, I experience pretty big performance issues. The framerate dropped significantly, which affected how fast I moved – and with the timer ticking away, I was not happy. The game glitched out and kicked you off the grid, which forced me to quit and restart. Your horde also has a habit of not moving if too many of them are stuck between an object, this forces you to move back, split, waste time, etc. The loading time was also extremely long.
For me, the main game is a bit of a dud, but the extras are pretty cool. Hopefully you claimed the game while it was free on PSN. If not, I’d wait a while until this game is available for a very low price. I struggle to see many people craving to play this game. There’s plenty of content, it’s just not as addictive as the developers thought it would be. If the time wasn’t so strict, levels more varied and exploration a more valued then the game would’ve been much better.