There’s no shortage of zombie-related media these days. Comics, television, and games have all had their fair share of everyone’s favorite risen dead, with depictions ranging from horrifying to cutesy. I, Zombie takes the cartoonish approach, but raising a horde of living corpses isn’t always as easy as the game’s approachable, safe-for-kids aesthetic might seem at first glance. With devious traps, alert soldiers, and other dangers lurking out to make unlife difficult for a brain-seeking monster, there’s plenty here to present a solid challenge and test your strategic mettle.
I, Zombie puts players in control of a lone hungry dead. Scattered around each of the game’s levels are humans, ripe for the biting, just waiting to join the growing horde. Our protagonist has to not only contend with keeping his own rotting flesh together, but with issuing commands to the newer recruits to achieve victory. Finishing a level consists of leaving nothing alive on the field of play, be they newly risen corpses or the scattered remains of the finally dead. Achieving a three-star rating typically requires that you finish the humans off with as few losses as possible, though a select few stages will feature a different objective.
I, Zombie has a number of player-friendly features that make it approachable, but without making the task too easy. Zombies, including the player-controlled leader, heal over time. Damaged zombies lose movement speed dramatically, though, so getting out of the range of fire can be decidedly difficult. Players can issue simple commands to their gathered grouping, consisting of Follow, Attack, and Stop. While this isn’t a particularly nuanced squad system, it does open up a good deal of strategic possibility. I do wish zombies could be grouped and commanded separately, but the all-or-nothing approach works out pretty well.
Most of the humans in I, Zombie are ultimately harmless, with only soldiers being armed against assault. Others will run from the shambling dead on sight, but are pretty easily overcome. Every so often, you’ll come across a timed level with a scientist working on some manner of anti-zombie weapon; these are populated by soldiers carrying extremely deadly weapons, and success is all about getting to the scientist as quickly as possible. These are the exception to the “kill everyone” rule, as the juiced-up soldiers are far and away too potent to attack no matter your numbers.
In the end, I, Zombie creates a fun, approachable setting that’s still plenty challenging. With simple yet effective visuals and sound, decent controls, and a heavy bend towards simple strategy, there’s enough here for veteran and casual gamers alike. With a miniscule $1.99 price tag on PC via Steam or Desura, or a mere $1.00 on Xbox Live, I can’t think of any reason it’s not worth checking out if you’re curious. While the simplicity of its design and play may turn back those looking for something with more depth, it’s a fun and approachable title that could be a small sum well spent.