Sometimes it’s difficult to understand a developer’s thought process. Some will release title after title hoping something will stick, while others spend so long tweaking and fine-tuning their experience that half the fan base has moved on. Game Cooks certainly seems to be veering towards the former, as it now has three Early Access titles on Steam, the most recent being ZOLO – Zombies Only Live Once, a sort of zombie brawler.
Featuring a low poly design that’s supposed to mimic the titles fun, light-hearted overtones, ZOLO – Zombies Only Live Once is very much a one trick pony in its current guise. Unlike most zombie experiences where you’re trying to pop their brains with a well-executed headshot or de-limb their necrotic bodies with a chainsaw, this is all about some good old-fashioned melee action, punching mostly.
With its one area to roam around the zombies spawn from three points, none of which you can get too close to spawn kill as the killing floor is a fixed size. Once the foolish creatures do start to wander in its time to start punching away, hitting them as far as possible for maximum points. There’s even an option for some spiked knuckle goodness for extra power and distance – like a cross between knuckle dusters and Wolverine’s claws.
For those extra skilful and with a keen eye, you’ll notice several multipliers dotted around the level. Ranging in size and multiplication, these are designed to get you up those leaderboards. However, while you can punch these zombies into kingdom come, actually trying to control their direction is somewhat problematic, success generally coming from sheer luck more than anything else.
There’s only a set number of zombies to face, some of which charge at you while others stand back and throw projectiles. With that in mind, there are other ways of upping those points. After so many kills a kind of rage mode unlocks, where those spiky knuckles turn red to make combo kills easier, or use them as single shot rockets.
Succeed in killing even more in quick succession and you can unlock limited ammo weapons like shotguns and AK47’s. These can then be used to shoot zombies being airdropped in.
Before all of this, you’ll need to master the control scheme which uses the same idea found in Games Cooks’ Vindicta, where you swing your arms for momentum. There are two options, one which uses your gaze as the direction and the other which uses where the controllers are pointing. Neither works particularly well in the small confines of the area you’re given. Having a free locomotion strafe option would be bliss, but it’s not there.
ZOLO – Zombies Only Live Once really is in its early days of Steam Early Access. While the premise sounds fine, its implementation is less so. The controls need to be fine-tuned, and the gameplay is just too shallow for repeated sessions at this point. It would have been great to see Game Cooks put more effort into Vindicta or Highway Madness than release another EA title, both of which VRFocus would recommend looking at first.