Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I don’t remember when or how Nation Red ended up in my Steam library, which I think must mean it was part of a bundle yonks ago. Thanks, mystery bundle! I’ve played a good few hours over the yonks, often getting urges to revisit and reinstalling it for a few more rounds. Nation Red, see, is a top-down arena shooter with, yes, zombies, I know, okay, but also randomised powerups, weapon drops, and character perks which mean things get proper silly.
So there you are, a soldier in typical post-zombie apocalypse arenas like a gas station, a hospital, and so on, with hordes of the gits spawning in all around you. Killing them gives you points, and points of course mean prizes. Dropped power-ups give temporary bonuses, weapons give… new weapons, and XP from zombokills levels you up.
Each level brings a choice of random perks, from the simple – faster movement when walking backwards – to the silly – start regularly firing off spinning buzzsaw blades. As you live longer, if you’re lucky you’ll start seeing perks which boost perks, or perks which synergise with other perks, or with power-ups, or… it gets silly as they stack up. I tend to like builds my character is surrounded by swarms of homing bombs, saw blades, poison darts, explosives, orbital strikes, and goodness knows what else. There’s a lot to say for simply being real good at shooting, though.
And it’s fun. It’s pretty good fun. You kill a lot of zombies, get a lot of points, make a silly character, and try not to die. It’s challenging enough, has fun room for experimentation with builds, and blasts gunfire and explosions and rawk music. Yup, that’s probably what I’d want from a top-down zomboshooter.