I’d rather be undead.
Conceptually, Zombeer sounds a little iffy. Yet another first-person shooter set in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, with a tacked-on gimmick that tasks the player with repeatedly drinking a brand of alcohol titled Zombeer which somehow prevents the game’s “hero” (and I use that word lightly, but I’ll get to that later) from turning into a member of the shuffling undead. So I started up the game with the ever-so-sneaking suspicion that this wasn’t going to be very good. Unfortunately, I was right… though I had no idea just how right I was going to be.
Waking up with a hangover in a Mexican-themed bar, our protagonist “K” checks his phone and reads a selection of text messages from his girlfriend Karen, who bemoans him running off with a “cheerleader dressed as a zombie,” before stating that she is leaving him to begin a romantic tryst with Chancellor “Colon Duty.” Yes, that’s a play on Call of Duty, and no, it makes no sense whatsoever within the context of the game. K then picks up a pink dildo from the side of the bar. That makes no sense either. Never has a game so adeptly prepared you for what you are about to play within its opening 60 seconds, and in no way is that a compliment.
Zombeer bombards the player with pop-culture references both old and new but never, ever remotely funny, with everything from Super Mario Bros. warp pipes, through to the Jigsaw puppet from Saw and a Stargate making an appearance for no other reason than a misguided attempt to elicit some sort of chuckle (or lack thereof) from the player. However, developer Moonbite Games seems to have forgotten that in order to make pop culture references work, they should probably be implemented in a manner which makes at least a modicum of sense within the context of the game.
Stylizing a portion of the game’s world to make it resemble Minecraft, which Zombeer does in its opening five minutes without any explanation whatsoever, isn’t funny. I’d go so far as to say it’s anti-funny, as the emotional response I had upon seeing it wasn’t to laugh but to spew fetid bile over my the screen of my monitor and to kick this whole “video games” thing in its head while I still had the chance. Approximately one minute later, I was confronted by a Mario-esque warp pipe, again with no explanation, that I ventured down before collecting gold coins for no reason whatsoever. I did this while not a single ROFL, LMAO, or LOL escaped my mouth. I couldn’t even manage a “heh.”
It’s frankly embarrassing that anyone thought any aspect of Zombeer was remotely humorous during its development, but it leaves such a bold smear across the game that, even if its gameplay were to have been reasonably engrossing, it still would have struggled to shine through its failing as a comedic game. However, it predictably fails in this department too, offering one of the more mundane experiences I’ve encountered in a first-person shooter in a long time.
There are a grand total of six weapons in Zombeer: one is the aforementioned pink dildo which is more or less fundamentally useless as a melee weapon, one is a molotov which is thoroughly awkward to aim, and the rest fill out the standard automatic/shotgun/sniper checkboxes. Given how much Moonbite Games has strived to make Zombeer as over-the-top and nonsensical as possible, each of these weapons are thoroughly tiresome to utilize and, aside the shotgun weapon being designed to resemble an octopus (I have no idea…), everything else about them is thoroughly unremarkable. Oh, and you can also only use the sniper rifle in one segment, so essentially you’ll only have five weapons to choose from throughout the entirety of the game. And the dildo and molotovs and mostly useless, meaning that you really have two weapons.
The undead enemies you come across are practically identical to one another, with the only really notable design choice being the improbably big breasts placed upon the female zombies. In the “developer diaries” collectibles you can find throughout the game which offer a glimpse into just what on Earth Zombeer’s creators were thinking when they put their names to this mess, the narrator explains how they spent a copious amount of time “hand-crafting” the breasts themselves, before he lets out a knowing laugh. This, coupled with an odd and entirely unacceptable jab made a cosplayer Jessica Nigri made later in the game, in which a character also named Jessica who is quite obviously based upon her is branded a “super slutty cosplayer,” before our hero rectifies his mistake and brands her “super sexy” instead.
This is just one of K’s many witticisms, with his dialogue being balanced between making crude sexual jokes about the big-breasted undead women attacking him to making an endless barrage of increasingly woeful puns. One of his oft-repeated phrases upon drinking Zombeer is “Brew Barrymore,” while he actually says “Run Forrest Run” whilst escaping from zombies. Forrest Gump came out in 1994.
Combine all of this tiresome tripe with its frankly ludicrous Zombeer management system, which will see you having to down one of the alcoholic beverages every 20 seconds or so in order to fend off death in what is one of the most inherently dull game mechanics I’ve ever come across, and an odd loading issue where every now and again you’ll enter a new area only to find K facing in completely the wrong direction, with the game seemingly failing to keep up with your mouse movements, and you have a game which even the most crass of gamers would swiftly grow bored with.
Oftentimes even when I loathe a game I can appreciate that it may have its own audience that would enjoy it, but Zombeer is an FPS that, if anyone told me that they liked it, I’d find myself instantly judging them for saying so. To say that its immature and painfully unfunny sense of humor would be appreciated by 13-years-olds is doing a disservice to the intelligence of 13-year-olds, as Zombeer makes Duke Nukem Forever look like Withnail & I. Speaking of Duke Nukem, I never thought I’d see a game seemingly inspired by the nineties video game character’s 2011 “comeback,” but here it is… and it’s much, much worse.