GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween 2013: ZombiU
As was established when we discussed Resident Evil, zombies and Halloween go hand-in-hand. With Capcom's famed franchise going in a more shooter-esque direction, it seemed as though traditional survival horror was a thing of the past as far as mainstream consoles were concerned. As it turned out, that wasn't the case, because ZombiU from Ubisoft brought a familiar, desperate, intense vibe back to gaming when it arrived as a Wii U launch title.
We recently learned that Ubisoft has no intentions of releasing a sequel, and that's a damn shame. That said, this game is really good on its own, so if you've yet to play it, the time of year to do so couldn't be any more fitting. GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween rolls on with ZombiU.
Why it stands out
Several things make ZombiU a notable survival horror game. For starters, it's a bloody-as-hell M-rated title on a Nintendo platform. That's not very common these days. Additionally, it's not just a game intended to get the mature gaming crowd into the Wii U — ZombiU is actually really, really great. It's so great, in fact, for a long time, it was arguably the game to get with the Wii U. Come to think of it, ZombiU may still be the best game to take home with you when you pick up the system.
The thing that stands out the most about ZombiU, however, is that it's just a brilliant modern survival horror game. It takes every feeling that made the genre so amazing back in the '90s — a creepy vibe, unsettling sense of fear, upsetting loneliness, and inherent hopelessness — and puts them all into one package.
Is it scary?
Jump scares often feel cheap and overused, but that's not the case at all in ZombiU. Most of the fear you feel comes during those moments when you're walking through sewers, exploring abandoned parking lots, and entering a new area for the first time. Oh, then there's the nursery. Do I really need to explain how freaking scary this scene is? I mean, it's a damn nursery! You're pretty much stuck in a place with tight deathtraps everywhere. This is also the place where easily the biggest scare in the game occurs.
Back to those jump scares, though. ZombiU certainly has them, but it doesn't abuse its terrifying powers. These scare tactics are placed ever so expertly, and you truly never expect them, making them absolutely wonderful. Yes, jump scares can be totally amazing, and ZombiU is proof of that. Many times you'll expect to be scared shitless, only for nothing to happen. Then, as you breathe that sigh of relief, something undead will pop up. It's absolutely perfect.
Jump scares aside, the fear of being freaked out is an awesome element of ZombiU. You never really know when something will come out and try to eat your face off, and not knowing is a major part of the experience. Everything is also really dark, prompting you to use your flashlight, which, by the way, runs out of battery quite fast and requires a recharge. This only adds even more tension, and if you're anything like me, you'll probably be nervous and twitchy the entire time you're playing.
Why play it on Halloween?
Zombies: check. Jump scares: check. Unnerving ever-present fear: check. In all honesty, ZombiU is very easily one of the best survival horror games to come along in recent memory. In fact, the modern feel of the game coupled with the old school approach to scaring the crap out of you make it quite possibly one of the best offerings in the genre. It'll scare you constantly, and even when it's not actively trying to terrorize you, you're likely to find it difficult to keep your composure intact throughout the course of this dreary fight for survival.
If I had to choose between ZombiU and Resident Evil, I'd be more inclined to pick ZombiU. Resident Evil is the optimal choice if you're actively craving nostalgia. That said, if you want everything that's so great about this horrifying genre in a modern game, it goes without saying that ZombiU will deliver on all fronts. It's fun, it's scary, and it's captivating. Don't let the lack of sales keep you from playing this rotten-fleshed quest. ZombiU is one hell of a ride, and it's a ride worth taking on Halloween.
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