With a title like Zombie Night Terror, you may expect something that revolves around mindless (no pun intended) zombie killing sprees. Granted, such games can offer plentiful hours of entertainment, but Zombie Night Terror isn't one of them. Whilst there are indeed zombies aplenty, in this game you won't be going on a rampage against an army of the undead. Instead, you lead them in a mission to wipe out humanity.
Apart from the switched role where you don't fight against but with the zombies, the other thing that stands out is the art-style. If the name doesn't remind you of a nineties horror flick, then the general look and feel of the game certainly will - in a good way. It reminds us of a VHS tape, the image staggers when you pause or hit fast-forward on levels. The pixelated characters and seemingly simplistic look of the levels may induce some nostalgic feels for games long forgotten, yet they're of high quality and flow seamlessly.
Befitting the horror-theme, the game has a black and grey palette, with the exception of blood being as red as, well, blood. The soundtrack delivers eerie music, which fits the impending apocalypse you're planning.
Zombie Night Terror starts with a short opening sequence, explaining the storyline; a green substance, known as Romero, is all the craze right now as a party-drug. Unbeknown to the pixelated people populating Zombie Night Terror, this substance is highly unstable and can turn humans into brain-hankering walking corpses. Armed with the elusive substance, you can click on any person on the screen, turning your chosen victim into a mindless zombie. As you're only given a limited supply, you'll have to make strategic decisions as to whom you want to turn. For example, turning people close to heavily armed forces will lead to your zombie getting eliminated before it's even had a nibble of tasty brains. Losing a zombie (or two) doesn't mean instant defeat; besides you spreading the pandemic, your zombies can also recruit more minions by munching on their victim's grey matter, thus turning them into zombies too. Occasionally, you can find more Romero, allowing you to infect new people when your horde grows thin.
As you progress, levels increase in complexity. Where in the first levels you only need to infect a few people to effectively spread the zombie-pandemic without much interference, you'll quickly be aiding your zombies past booby-traps and trying to control the chaos of having a whole swarm of minions who can't even walk a staircase without assistance. As the puzzles and enemies increase in difficulty, you are also provided with more options: zombies can mutate into powerful new types, such as a Tank who stands a better chance against armed opponents, or Crawlers who fit through small gaps, scoping the area for hidden humans and feasting on their brains. Nothing is safe from your wrath: after only a few levels you can even cause more havoc by destroying the entire environment inhabited by those pesky humans.
The story-line and accompanying cinematics of Zombie Night Terror are simple and short - just the perfect amount to make the game accessible yet intriguing, but without over-complicating it. There's also a good dose of dark humour in the game, not only found in the cinematics, but also during gameplay.
However, if you aren't interested in story, Zombie Night Terror provides players with the option to skip cutscenes. As you play through each level individually, you can easily pick up where you left off, or even revisit favourite levels. Add the fast-forward function, and you've got a lot of replay value.
Another welcome function is the pause button. The game requires a lot of strategic thinking, and it may sometimes become a bit overwhelming to both mind your minions as well as planning ahead to solve puzzles. You may be carefully plotting to lead a few zombies past booby-traps, only to find out another group of undead is plummeting to their demise elsewhere. Luckily, pausing the action allows you a little breathing room to work out a solid plan without having to lose half of your horde (as well as your sanity).
If we've learned anything through the consumption of copious amounts of comics, television series, movies and games about zombies, it's that they're stupid. This is where the real challenge of Zombie Night Terror lies: as an unseen force, you, the brainy overlord, lead the zombies you create throughout various multi-tiered levels by clicking and pointing your army of undead towards tasty brains and end bosses, until humanity is wiped out.
The zombies are completely useless when left on their own; they will mindlessly walk into walls and do nothing productive unless you guide them. Similarly, they walk into traps, ambushes, and fall from great heights unless you stop them. Once dead (again), you lose that zombie, and if your entire army has been wiped out you lose the level. If you don't keep close watch, your undead minions might all wander into a pit with no escape, leaving you no other option than to restart. The more zombies you recruit, the more you'll be frantically focusing on all corners of the screen trying to keep them together as you click your way to victory. Luckily, you can afford to lose a few here and there. In fact, you may find yourself purposely sacrificing some of them for the greater good.
It's easy to draw parallels between Zombie Night Terror and all-time classic Lemmings. Both have you navigate feebleminded creatures through various obstacles who would otherwise plummet to their death, and it clearly inspired developer NoClip. Those who enjoyed Lemmings (and who are willing to lead a bunch of unappetising shufflers rather than cutesy critters) will certainly find a fun challenge and engaging gameplay that's on par with the 1991 original.
In total, there are 40 levels in Zombie Night Terror. They're divided into four chapters, and each chapter ends with a powerful end-boss to defeat. NoClip has promised an additional 10 levels as DLC, as well as implementing the option to let players create and share their own. Whilst the game is certainly both fun and challenging enough to revisit after completion, adding your own content will likely further encourage players back for more. After hours of leading dim-witted undead through the black and white aesthetic of Zombie Night Terror in an attempt to start a zombie apocalypse, we look forward to coming back for more.