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Slice and Dice Zombies in Japan

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Ed-0: Zombie Uprising Preview

Whether it’s in movies, books, or video games, I’m always up for something that mixes things up. Ed-0: Zombie Uprising mixes a salad of roguelike, action RPG and zombie killing. It’s a spicy mix, but the biggest hook sets the game in 19th century, Edo period Japan. Not quite the time or place you’d expect to see the undead. The game is on PC in Steam Early Access.

You play as one of three character types: samurai, sumo wrestler, or ninja. Each has a specific set of moves. The Ninja is agile, he moves quickly and can even hover. The Sumo is a meaty grappler. All characters have heavy and light attack and special attack scrolls which are picked up along the way and slotted into button combos. One can be an upward slash, while another adds power to every attack. Of course, there are the usual consumables that provide healing and mitigate the effects of zombie bites. Drinking alcohol adds a debuff that causes the character to weave drunk, vomit, and fall, not a winning move in the middle of a fight.

Levels, enemies, and loot are procedurally generated, so each run will be slightly different. That said, levels are usually split into short segments with a main path and a few side areas. Once you clear the zombies from one section, you teleport to the next. When you die, you resurrect in your home village which contains a dojo (to improve your character), a merchant, a sacred tree and a mission center. There are also various villagers to talk to, even if they don’t have much to say. Eventually, you complete a mission and face a boss.

Brain Eaters in Kimonos

While some recent games redefine zombies as nimble and fast, zombies in Zombie Uprising are generally a wobbly, slow-moving species. There aren’t a huge number of enemy types, and most of them need a few hits to take down. It also takes some time before your character has the strength and upgrades needed to level up. Once you figure out what loot is worth keeping and how to use it, Ed-0: Zombie Uprising gets better. Leveling is still slow, however. It’s also very rough around the edges.

My policy is to give Early Access games the benefit of the doubt and not judge them too harshly. In the case of Ed-0, I’m pretty sure a lot of the negative stuff probably won’t change. The graphics of the game, for example. They’re fairly low praise, and the characters come alive with a missing-picture lurch that has nothing to do with zombies. These inelegant animations also have a pretty big impact on the combat, making it imprecise and frustrating. The locking mechanism is kind of worthless. It seems to have no impact on where your strikes land.

Early Access games often have missing features and bugs, so it’s no surprise that Ed-0: Zombie Uprising has them as well. On the positive side of the spectrum, its concept is quite interesting. While there isn’t much sound design, the game’s occasional music sets the scene well.

Something old, something new

Ed-0: Zombie Uprising needs more time in the oven to be sure, but there’s fun in the characters and setting of the game. Few games combine third-person action with roguelike mechanics, and the structure works. At $20, it’s a bit of a hard sell, but the developers are making improvements and adding features regularly. Zombie action fans and roguelike aficionados should pay this one a visit, just be prepared for some rough edges and repeats. I can’t wait to see how it turns out after it’s fully cooked.

***PC code provided by the publisher***

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