Undead and Beyond – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade, Action
Developer: Ominous Entertainment
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Platform: Switch, Steam
Tested on: Switch

Undead and Beyond – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: Innovative and challenging gameplay
Bad: Unpolished aesthetics drag down overall game experience
User Score
7.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Our friends over at Ultimate Games have invited us to escape dr. Beyond’s laboratory in Ominous Games’ Undead and Beyond. With the game available on the Switch and set to arrive on Steam very soon, we took on this zombie-infested challenge, and survived long enough to tell you all about it.

Story

There’s not a lot of classic narrative to be found here. Instead, Undead and Beyond relies on a simple premise that is actually quite clever in its simplicity. The game only needs a few seconds worth of textless cutscene to set up the character of dr. Beyond -a name we only learn through the in-game menu- and put everything into context. In a twist on the classic zombie tropes, this time you are on the side of the walking dead. The doctor is a stereotypical mad scientist, and he has figured out a way to reanimate corpses and do his bidding. The government tries to stop him, so now the doctor finds himself besieged in his laboratory, stuck in the middle of an all-out war between the US army and his own freshly resurrected militia. Dr. Beyond’s aim is to unleash his new zombie plague upon the world, but in order to do so, he must first escape his own facility.

Graphics

Undead and Beyond follows the trend of using retro-styled pixelated graphics. Given that there is often a lot of chaos happening on the screen, we appreciate the simplified character designs, as it’s easy to see who is on your side (green skins) and who is not (the rest), although it does make it difficult to distinguish between the various zombies and enemy types sometimes. The fact that the environments aren’t very appealing doesn’t help here either. Stages are very dark for the most part with the exception of the eerie green glow of the emergency lights that litter the rooms.

This is where Undead and Beyond’s biggest weakness lies: lack of stage variety. Because the entirety of the game takes place in dr. Beyond’s laboratory, all levels end up looking similar. Sure, the layout changes, but the general look of the levels remains the same, resulting in a game that feels repetitive. With interface text that looks stretched out and character sprites in menus that look on the cheap side, we can’t help but feel the graphics could’ve used an additional layer of polish overall.  The game fails to stick to the retro-aesthetic as well, with the green glow and several weapon interfaces feeling more modern than they should, making them come across as inconsistent.

Sound

The MIDI-styled music is dull and repetitive, and while we understand that Ominous Entertainment was attempting to emulate the soundtrack to an old school video game, just like they did with the graphics, we do feel it falls flat here. There really isn’t anything we can say about the in-game sounds either. It’s not that those are bad, but they are very generic.

Gameplay

Undead and Beyond offers a retro-styled arcade experience. Taking control of Dr. Beyond, your ultimate goal is to escape your own laboratory. To do so, you must make your way through the maze-like rooms of the facility, as you resurrect the dead and avoid army troops along the way. Each level has a series of objectives to complete, which will allow you to advance to the next room. These objectives usually involve grabbing keycards or destroying obstacles that prevent you from advancing. Naturally, Dr. Beyond has a couple of tricks up his sleeve to ensure his survival. What stands out most is his ability to revive the dead so that they may fight for him.

After killing an enemy, pressing X lets the doctor inject the corpse of his victim and bring it back as a zombie. These zombies will then attack other enemies, rewarding the doctor with more corpses to turn into zombies. Resurrection isn’t instantly though: adding a fresh zombie to your posse takes a few seconds, so the key is in picking out the right targets so that you aren’t attacked by other enemies while you’re busy reviving. It’s a neat little trick that really makes the game feel unique. Dr. Beyond usually attacks his enemies using his trusty scalpel knives, but other weapons can be found throughout the stages as well. Some of these, like the exploding drone, can take out enemies from a distance, allowing the doctor to remain safe from large groups of enemies, before casually walking in and repurposing the victims.

Despite the issues we had with the aesthetics, which we feel hurt Undead and Beyond’s appeal, the gameplay is actually pretty fun. This really is an example of a book that shouldn’t be judged by its cover. The stages are fairly well-balanced and there is a feeling of accomplishment when you are able to turn the tide against the enemy by sending their own soldiers back against them. There’s plenty of variety in weapons, zombies and enemies, and discovering a new addition to your arsenal never fails to excite. 

Conclusion

We have a feeling that many people will be skipping Undead and Beyond purely on an aesthetics basis. That’s understandable, as it looks and sounds like a piece of shovelware. It’s a shame really, because beyond the shoddy coat of paint lies a game that offers pretty fun gameplay and a decent challenge. If you can get over the looks, it’s well worth a shot. 

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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Undead and Beyond - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


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