G'Day Glitchtopia, I am Isentropic, and today I am reviewing the best looking zombie themed, cat rescuing, action/puzzle-platformer to date, Three Dead Zed.
Three Dead Zed was developed and published by Gentleman Squid Studios, the team behind the iOS/Android game Astro Drop, and the PC, Xbox Live title, Rise of the Ravager. Based in Orlando Florida, Gentleman Squid Studio is a division of JHT Incorporated, an interactive training firm that seized an opportunity to invest in its people, through the creation of a small seven person indie game development team.
Three Dead Zed tells the story of Subject Zed, a scientifically engineered zombie that must escape the confines of the lab in which it was created, by rescuing cats in tinfoil hats. The player is guided through each level by a mysterious telepathic entity, that has lost touch with its cat infiltration team. As Subject Zed you must use your ability to change forms to traverse extremely dangerous and increasingly difficult areas with the overall goal being, to remove the tinfoil hat of the cat trapped there. I enjoyed the story on the whole, and had a good chuckle at the office warning posters and the very funny line delivery of the science lab PA announcer.
Controls in Three Dead Zed are extremely basic and easy to get the hang of, but are a real challenge to master under pressure. The three different forms of Subject Zed have their own purpose in each level, and it's in this high paced, form swapping the game really gets difficult. The classic form is able to attack with low damage, jump small distance, flick switches and climb ladders. The sprinter form moves extremely quickly, can jump higher and further but is unable to attack or interact with in level items. The final form, the brute, is able to soak up damage well and deal large damage but is unable to interact with in level items or jump. Changing between the three forms is quick and easy, but with everything in the levels designed to kill you, it isn't always straight forward picking the right zombie for the job.
The level design as a whole is good, with the game being based more around the challenge of high speed and accurate platforming than it is around the solving of puzzles. There are enemies dotted throughout the levels to keep things interesting and a few box stacking, and switch flicking challenges, but for the most part, the way you'll die is through movement mistakes like miss-jumps. This game can be brutal in some sections where the player has to repeat a series of difficult jumps and climbs, which can causing frustration very quickly. I got stuck in some sections and ended up repeating it 20 plus times before getting to the next check point, and I am not too proud to admit that I took advantage of the rage quit option this game offers on several occasions.
Even with the rage quit incidents, I still completed the main story line within a couple of hours, but for the price this is a decent length and does not detract from the experience. After completing the main story the player is able to take on challenge rooms, which are far more difficult than those found in the story mode. I am happy that the developer included the challenge room as an option after the main story missions but due to this game being based more around the platforming than the puzzles I was not motivated enough to push through these levels.
The art style and sound featured in Three Dead Zed are a real strength of the game. I never grew tired of the orange blood splatters throughout the levels that showed my errors from previous attempts. The levels and characters have a beautiful hand drawn look, and the transformation and movement animations are great fun to watch. The sound can get repetitive in some of the more trying levels, but on the whole fits well with the rooms and changes pace accordingly in difficult locations.
If twitch reflex, action/puzzle-platformers are your forte, you will love the light hearted humour, beautiful, hand drawn art style and annoyingly, addictive gameplay of Three Dead Zed. For me however, this game had too many frustrating deaths and not enough puzzles that really challenge the player's problem solving skills. I enjoyed my time with Three Dead Zed and was very satisfied after completing the main story levels but am in no way committed enough to push through the challenge rooms that remain. Three Dead Zed is a good indie title and has earned 6.5 out of 10 from me.
Available on PC, Mac & Xbox Live Marketplace.