Publisher Rising Star games held a preview day last week for its upcoming game lineup, and among those titles, the clear standout was Zombie Vikings. Made by Swedish development team Zoink, (makers of 2013’s hilarious Stick it to the Man) Zombie Vikings is a four-person story brawler that lets up to four players hack, slash, shoot and punch their way through a fanciful take on Viking legend.
The setup goes like this: after Loki steals Odin’s one good eye, Odin summons four of the best dead Norse warriors to get it back. Players choose from among these four Zombie Vikings: Gunborg, Seagurd, Hedgy and Caw-kaa!, each with his or her own unique look and abilities. Oh, and speaking of the look–the art style strongly relates to Zoink’s Stick it to the Man with its bright colors and exaggerated, angular characters that border on the grotesque. The voice acting also, in its wackiness, is clearly linked.
Anyway, once everyone’s selected a Viking and a basic weapon, (the good stuff comes later after you’ve uncovered some plunder) the whole crew sets off on a cooperative side-scrolling adventure. There’s as much running, dashing and jumping as you’d expect, but one of the most fun things about the game’s co-op aspect is the stacking functionality. Players can stack on top of one another like some kind of rotting Zombie kebab and use that formation to reach high places and cross gaps. (It can also be a handy griefing tactic since you can pick up other characters any time you want and refuse to put them down.)
Gameplay progresses through various kooky worlds, all of which are populated by treasure chests and bizarre monsters. Co-op quickly turns to competition when the former appear, and when it comes to the latter well, you might yourself banding together to fight off the progeny of a giant slug with overdeveloped paternal instincts.
While Zombie Vikings has a lot going for it in terms of style, it does have a few things to work out in terms of readability. Four players and multiple monsters on screen at once create a kind of visual chaos that can make it nearly impossible to separate your Viking from everything else. Not being able to see your special powers or see yourself landing a death blow means a substantial depreciation of fun.
Once a level is done however, a results screen tallies up the treasure you’ve collected (or been cheated out of by greedy teammates) and then you’re bumped to the shop where you can buy weapon and rune upgrades. (It’s uncertain what runes do. They weren’t really shown during the demo.)
Zombie Vikings looks like tons of co-op fun. It’s stylish, it’s funny, and at this writing, it’s set to have roughly ten hours of gameplay, including optional side quests. Originally set for a July release, it’s now coming out this Fall—a solid release date has yet to be determined–and will be available for PS4 and the Zombie Vikings: Ragnarök Editiön–an actual physical copy of the game–will come with exclusive bonus content including five bonus versus arenas, two additional playable characters, and a “making of” video.
For more information about Zombie Vikings, visit the official Zombie Vikings website.