Thursday, May 31, 2012

Zombie Playground!

Illustration copyright Jason Chan
This is a painting by the infamous Jason Chan.  When I first saw it almost three years ago, I was inspired and awed by how visceral and surreal the whole piece was.  Looking at it now brings the same feelings to surface even three years after my first impression.  Something about kids trying to survive against an onslaught of zombies is really intriguing.  The piece is on a playground, a natural go-to "fort" for children.  The playground is likely something they've played on millions of times, and so they'd know the quickest paths and most advantageous spots on the structures.  Yet children fighting zombies is something that's never been depicted (as far as I'm aware) in movies or video games.  I imagine that as a culture, we don't want to think about the effect that such a devastation would have on children and how they'd react, but children are often times more honest with their emotions than we as adults, and it would make a far more interesting narrative.

Illustration copyright Massive Black
Well, now we have a video game coming out to capture just that.  Massive Black is putting out a video game inspired by that amazing illustration, and I for one couldn't be more excited.  Let's take a look at some of what they've revealed.
Illustration copyright Massive Black
So the concept is pretty straightforward.  You take the role of a kid at a school trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.  Unfortunately, what that entails as far as story goes has yet to be revealed, but let's take a stab at what could be interesting.  The most obvious story route, and probably the best chance they have of making this one of the best games of all time, would be to pull a lot of inspiration from Lord of the Flies.  I don't know if the game is going to be exclusively online, and only multiplayer, but I certainly hope there would be solo campaigns available, and having to make the difficult choices of be or be killed make games like these much more enticing.
Illustration copyright Massive Black
Let's look back at some of our old favorite zombie shooters and see what we might be able to expect.  One of the most recent favorites is the Left 4 Dead series.  The first left for dead set the bar high, and followed up by setting the bar even higher.  If you look at the first Dead Rising in comparison, the biggest difference were the special infected.  In Dead Rising, simply having to fend off hordes of zombies would've gotten old fast.  The impetous to continue was not only to save the remaining living, but to also kill off those who had inexplicably gone mad.  That was the biggest turnoff for me.  Why were there random crazy people?  Their backstories were really nonexistent.  In Left 4 Dead and its sequel, they introduced the special infected to give more challenge without making you kill other living people.  It's a time for the living to band together after all.  I think that's going to be one of the biggest things that will make or break Zombie Playground.  They need to give us big monsters to fight.  After all, this is from the viewpoint of a child's imagination.
Illustration copyright Massive Black
I haven't personally played Dead Island, but from what little I've seen of it, they also came to the conclusion that "special infected" were a necessity to make interesting gameplay.  Unfortunately, their downfall was on the path of too many side missions.  Useless NPCs that needed you to grab their stockings halfway across the map made the game less fun and more of a chore.  No one wants to do chores.  That's something Zombie Playground should definitely avoid.  One of my old favorites though is Zombies Ate my Neighbors for the SNES and Sega Genesis.  It was packed to the brim not only with zombies, but all sorts of horrors and pickups and puzzles to keep the game interesting level after level.  If Zombie Playground is going to focus on multiplayer, the best thing they could do is create "roadblocks" that need the players to work together to solve the puzzle of how to get through.
Illustration copyright Massive Black
So there's good reason to be excited about this game, and good reason to go and support it.  You can go to to give your input in the forums and help shape the game's future, and their kickstarter page to help support the project.  Until next time, have fun killing some zombies in your favorite zombie shooter.

1 comment:

  1. this looks cool! i don't know how to use this lol.