Three Dead Zed
There are some games that come along and remind you that sub-genres exist which are woefully under represented. Three Dead Zed, a short and charming little game, reminds me that the world needs more games like The Lost Vikings. Three Dead Zed also illustrates why it reminds me of, but isn’t a spiritual successor to, The Lost Vikings.
To start, this indie game has beautiful hand drawn artwork. The music is nice and the sounds are crisp. It’s a game that’s neither too easy nor too hard, it’s not too short nor too long. It’s a perfect little palette cleanser. Working your way through five maps, each with nine levels, you control one zombie who can exist in one of three forms. The default (or as I like to call a balanced class, the “Mario”) can walk, jump, climb ladders, pick up small boxes and press buttons. The frog shaped faster zombie form (we’ll refer to him as “Luigi”) can jump high and long, is much much faster and lower to the ground. This comes at the expense of no combat abilities, no ability to pick things up and you cannot press switches. Lastly, a hulking thug of a lady Zombie (I’d call her “Peach” but she’s far more “Bowser”) has incredible damage resistance and can dole out damage in very wide swaths but can only jump mere inches, can’t fit into many areas, cannot climb or press switches. As you can see, the three forms require a balancing act for you to utilize properly.
In each map is a kitten or two. A mysterious voice is telling you to save them and ignore the careful training that was given to you by a kooky lab of scientists. There are hidden logs to be found as well, and lots of achievements. So with all this great game play and smorgasbord of features, where did this game go wrong? Firstly, the controls (especially on Luigi) are too floaty. When you switch between zombies, it kills your momentum and they expect you to do that. Oh by all means the game can be completed but some puzzles border on pressing buttons randomly and hoping the game caught one that completes the task at hand. Secondly, in The Lost Vikings, you controlled three characters at the same time. Switching meant leaving a character where they are so you can use someone else. By swapping between modes all on a single character, the game lacks the feeling that these are three separate individuals with unique personalities. All this is perfectly acceptable, but the classic Blizzard platformer just shows that it went that extra mile that made it a classic game. Oh and the 1 1/2 – 2 hour playtime is good, but isn’t really a value at full price.
For a couple bucks you probably won’t miss, the game is a fun diversion. I’d say wait for a sale if the art style and game play interest you.