Om-nom-Nombz!


There’s been a lot of indie zombie games recently – in fact, there’s at least another one I’m considering whether I should give a little shot to the head or not. But this isn’t about that – this is about Nombz is a neat little third-person action shooter, who released V1.1 of their demo recently. It involves shooting! Zombies! In the head!

The demo’s the first three levels, and it’s working off a vaguely Chaos Engine axis. That’s my shorthand for “You play by yourself, but have AI team-mates”. There’s three characters who end up in your mob in the demo (and two more in the full one), each with different abilities and you’re allowed to swap between them after you collect ’em. And I will now show you what it looks like via the media of Screen-a-shot.

You can see it in motion over here. It’s…. well, it’s okay. There’s just a general lack of viscerality to the weapons, but the Psychonauts-tinged retro-comedy atmosphere helps a lot. The AI’s probably the most noticeable failing – you can forgive it for the zombies, of course, as getting a car between you and them as they struggle to get around strikes me as a valid tactic. For team-mates, it’s less appealing – they have the prenatural awareness so they start shooting at anyone within range, which seems to include through walls. Surprise attacks from alleyways to the side lose their edge when your mate starts shooting in that direction. And since surprise is out of play, it’s a shame the minimap doesn’t display blips for all the zombies – it’d have added to the comic desperation of a situation when you can see you’re really surrounded by the shambling ones. But now I’m playing backseat designer, which isn’t ever fair.

I woke up this morning and had a little shoot. It served its purpose.

8 Comments

  1. matt says:

    Well, it looks at least like we ought to give it a try. Since it’s a demo, maybe they’re planning on tunning it a little, if the AI’s not that great and suchs…
    Anyways, shooting zombies in the head is never a wastefull occupation. :)

  2. CitrusFreak says:

    Noombz? Or is it Nombz? I’m a little confused.

  3. Kieron Gillen says:

    The spelling in the screenshot rather than my tiny head is correct.

    KG

  4. Mustache says:

    i hate fast zombies

  5. Yengwa says:

    I thought it was boring.

  6. Jason Lutes says:

    Decent visual style, good music, great set of bullet points, but the gameplay’s jut not there. The least they could do with such boring level layouts is figure out how to randomize them, ala Zombies!!!.

  7. Josh Marshall says:

    FYI: Demo version 1.1 often crashes before the game loads on Vista. They have a newly updated Demo v1.11 here:
    link to nombz.com

  8. Stromko says:

    The art style was a good choice, very consistent and a good cover for the simple graphics. It’s mostly the gameplay itself that’s lacking polish or is less than ideal.

    The basic aiming controls were a bit insufferable, every twitch of the mouse or small adjustment causing the whole screen to move seemed unnecessary. More of a floating aiming reticle could’ve reduced motion irritation (let alone motion sickness) and perhaps to allow you to pick your shots more. They’ve reduced the gameplay down to simple avoidance and firing in the right general direction, with the slow bullets giving constant feedback on your accuracy.

    The posse mechanic has some really cumbersome bits, primarily in how their position is glued to your every turn. Shooting off a zombie that’s affixed itself to an ally was nearly impossible, since as you spun to aim your allies would swiftly move to retake their 8 and 4’o’clock positions behind you.

    Altogether I found it hard to play through the whole demo, the only exciting goal was getting new henchmen but since the full game only has 2 more to gain I’m not even remotely tempted to purchase. There were some fun bits where I had to take on lots of zombies and the purely avoidance-based gameplay became challenging and more complicaetd, but over all it was just too simple, too easy to learn, there was very little skill to develop or hone.

    There are tons of simple, arcadey games out there and too many people making new ones. I’ve played worse games, XNA-based ones off XBMarketplace mostly, it doesn’t compare that poorly to similar games, it’s just a really tired mechanic. Refining everything down to be as simple as possible while still being playable just isn’t going to make you stand out.