An Enjoyable Alien Shooter
Not to be mistaken for the series of games on Flash with the same name, Zombotron is a love letter to a bygone era of side-scrolling shooters. It’s fast, action-packed and a lot of fun. It’s not perfect, with a few janky movements and level design late on that feels a little samey but on the whole, Zombotron is a well-paced shooter with enough variety to see you through until the end.
Tying the gameplay together is an overarching story involving a mysterious alien presence and a mercenary named Blaze Rush. Dropped onto a dangerous, hostile world full of aliens and murderous insects, Blaze slowly starts to uncover what’s happened on the planet across a series of levels that see you progress deeper into the heart of the planet, and learn more about the radiation that’s turned this world into a mutant playground.
Zombotron is an easy game to pick up and play, with the levels progressing at a decent pace through to the latter periods where things get really intense and tricky. Interspered between these levels are various well-designed boss fights from a stone golem through to a giant spider hanging from the ceiling. These help to break the game up between the individual levels that see you blasting your way through aliens and insects whilst navigating treachorous terrain.
From exploding gas canisters through to spiked flora and destructable bridges, Zombotron has a good level of variety in its design, even if the art work does become a little similar toward the end of the game.
Aesthetically, Zombotron looks great, with the black backgrounds contrasting nicely against the bold colours for Blaze and the levels themselves. The murky browns and cold greys work nicely against the lighting too, which is generally pretty good throughout the game. The underground sections are illuminated by lamps on the wall whilst the illuminated fragments of moonlight filtering down on the over-ground sections help add some variety to the visual design.
The actual game itself plays nicely too, although the controls can be a little fiddly with the Q and R keys used to reload and heal respectively. Still, this may be down to my ineptitude on PC so take this concern with a pinch of salt. Either way, the game is balanced nicely with the mouse used to control the direction you move and the reticle on your gun for aiming. Lining up headshots on enemies is relatively straight forward and clicking the left mouse button fires the gun. The right button can be used for melee whilst a handy tap of W allows you to jump and escape from tricky situations.
As the game progresses, you gain experience points for defeating enemies which in turn can be used to upgrade your melee power, maximum hit points or even the rate you fire critical hits on enemies. It’s a decent progression system and certainly complements the slowly increasing difficulty of enemies throughout the game. Zombotron goes one step further with this system too, offering upgradable gear and weapons throughout the game. With limited backpack space, there is some micro-management with selling gear and switching weapons but most of this helps adds some much-needed depth to the game.
I had a lot of fun with Zombotron; it’s accessible enough to jump in and have a blast right away whilst deep enough to allow for some progression and variety to keep things from growing stale. While some of the later levels are tough and overload the segments with far too many enemies, for the most part Zombotron manages to nail its premise with precision. When it comes to the saturated Indie game market, Zombotron has a lot going for it and given it’s cheap price on Steam right now, it’s well worth checking out.