Splatter: Zombiepocalypse Now – Review
Follow Genre: Twin-stick shooter
Developer: Dreamworlds
Publisher: Untold Tales
Platform: Switch, PC
Tested on: Switch

Splatter: Zombiepocalypse Now – Review

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Good: A refreshingly straightforward and surprisingly fun take on the genre
Bad: Lack of gameplay depth affects longevity
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Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

It’s late October, and we all know what that means: it’s spooky video game season! With Halloween around the corner, developers are dropping horror-themed games, both old and new, on every platform. Splatter: Zombiepocalypse Now definitely falls under the old ones, as the game originally saw release on PC way back in 2014. It’s only just now debuting on the Switch though, so join us as we take a look at the game to figure out whether this is a modern indie classic or a quick Halloween cash grab.


Taking a film noir approach, Splatter‘s opening scene introduces us to Max, our gritty protagonist. He’s seemingly about to meet his demise at the hands of the zombie menace. Of course, there is no better time to recall how he ended up in his current predicament, and in his final moments, Max remembers the events that led up to this moment: our hero is blissfully unaware that the zombie apocalypse is happening around him… until someone rings the doorbell on a lazy Sunday afternoon. As it turns out, the world around Max’s house has been plunged into chaos and he finds himself in the middle of a fight between the army and the zombie menace. Naturally, Max doesn’t question this unlikely event. Instead, he simply grabs a gun and starts blasting zombies. The narrative is both paper-thin and over-the-top, so those looking for a realistic or fleshed-out story are better off looking elsewhere, but there is a certain charm to the way Splatter approaches things. It feels reminiscent of the old-school Duke Nukem titles in a way, with a supposedly badass protagonist making quips in between killing targets without batting an eye.


If you keep in mind that Splatter is a title that is nearly a decade-old game, and that it absolutely is a product of its time, then it’s a decent-looking game. Story scenes are presented through high-contrast black-and-white images which emulate the feeling of a Sin City-esque comic book, although we suspect these aren’t drawings but heavily edited photographs. Juxtaposed against this is the surprisingly colorful in-game world, where fantastic lighting effects successfully create a feeling of dread. The world itself is dark and feels bleak, but the blood that explodes from enemies is persistent. Max is essentially creating a canvas of blood, gore, and guts, with various shades of red slowly but surely taking over the screen -hence the game’s title. Splatter is very much an over-the-top experience in terms of presentation, which ties into the overall design philosophy behind the story and the uncomplicated gameplay.


The unexpected standout feature of Splatter’s soundscape is that the game features voice acting -and that it’s quite good too. Our hero Max delivers his quips and one-liners with the right amount of grit and determination, and NPC voice performances are also more than adequate. The dialogue is laughably simple of course, but that has more to do with the writing and less with the talent of the voice actors. Sound effects are great as well, both the sounds made by zombies and other monsters and the ambient effects that bring the environment to life. The music doesn’t fare as well. Although it’s atmospheric and moody, we felt that it fell a little flat, especially during the boss battles.


It’s been a while since we’ve played a game that is so shamelessly straightforward with its gameplay as Splatter. What you’re getting here is a top-down twin-stick shooter where you step into the grime-soaked shoes of Max and blast as many zombies (and other nasty creatures) as you can to the afterlife. There are survivors that need help too, of course, and a wide arsenal of weapons to collect and experiment with, but nothing here feels particularly original or innovative. This is a by-the-numbers experience that neatly stays within the conventions of its genre, and in this way, Splatter is actually kind of refreshing. Controls are tight, levels are well-designed and there is a variety of enemy types to deal with to keep things fresh… for a while at least. We’re not sure if it’s because it feels nostalgic or if it simply allowed us to turn off our brain, but we really enjoyed what Splatter had to offer. The game also does not overstay its welcome: you can play through the story in a single evening, although a single three-hour playthrough of the objective-based story campaign isn’t enough to unlock everything in terms of weapon upgrades. While this does bode well for replayability if you’re a completionist, we found that there isn’t any need to collect everything either: just sticking to upgrading the basic pistol whenever possible was enough to carry us through the game, as this is a weapon that offers unlimited ammo, unlike some of the beefier options.

Granted, those beefier options are infinitely more satisfying to use, especially when taking on bosses. Using heavier weapons takes off chunks of health much quicker and given the size of boss health bars, taking them down quickly is your best option. There aren’t any attack patterns or specific strategies to figure out against bosses -again, Splatter isn’t a game that requires thinking- but this does mean that unless you have options that deal massive damage in your arsenal, boss battles are all about attrition rather than tactics. In this way, boss battles are actually exemplary of a wider issue with Splatter: despite how fun it is for a couple of hours, the game can start to feel like a bit of a grind due to the overall lack of gameplay depth. It’s fun for a while, and there is a decent level of challenge here, but this is probably not a title that you’ll return to more than a handful of times.

We should note that the Switch port of Splatter allegedly doesn’t come with any new bells and whistles compared to the original 2014 release. We’re not familiar with the PC version, but if you are, and if you were hoping for new content or remastered visuals, then it’s probably worth noting that you won’t find any of this here, so there is no reason to double dip unless you want to be able to play Splatter on the go. Even so, the base package offers a surprising amount of bang for your buck, with a co-op mode and even online multiplayer included. The story mode is on the short side but can be tackled at various difficulty levels. The meat of the overall game experience lies in that mode of course, but those looking for an even more challenging version of Splatter can also get stuck in survival mode, a bullet hell experience where you must keep Max alive as long as possible as waves upon waves of zombies shamble towards him. Add to this that you’re looking at a very reasonable €7.99/$7.99 price point, and Splatter ends up looking like a very attractive package.


We didn’t quite expect to enjoy Splatter as much as we did, given the brainless story, the basic gameplay, and the over-the-top aesthetics. However, when we actually got to grips with the game, this quasi-retro return to straightforward twin-stick zombie shooting action turned out to be surprisingly fun. The game’s biggest weakness is perhaps that it lacks tactical depth and that it can become grindy and repetitive if you seek to play it for a lengthier period of time. That being said, for short bursts of brainless action, Splatter holds up surprisingly well, even eight years after its initial release.

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