Scheming through the Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning– Electric Boogaloo, is a story driven point and click adventure developed by Entertainment Forge, whom you might know if you spent your formative years playing online flash games like I did. However do not let its humble presentation deceive you, this game was unexpectedly fun.
Now, generally speaking, I am put off by games with anthropomorphic animals because they’re usually either marketed to certain groups of people. However in this case I have to say that the choice to set the game in an animal inhabited world had no such vibes, quite the contrary it adds to the experience by creating the opportunity for many good jokes. The game follows the misadventures of two friends who try to survive in the zombie apocalypse through no virtuous means. Hank, a retired cabbage salesman, and Larry, his drug dealer, are not exactly what you’d call good people, or rather, animals. They’re both selfish, manipulative and would rather send an innocent person to their death for their gain than risk a hair off their head, or hide. When their supplies run out they venture into the world to scavenge for valuables and bargain their way to safety, but they accomplish that by convincing others to do the dirty work while they simply provide “assistance” from their relatively safe van.
The gameplay revolves around recruiting scavengers and keeping watch over them, giving them directions and sometimes being called upon to make life or death choices. Will you play it safe or risk an innocent person’s death for the possibility of some better loot? There’s also some dialogue options throughout the game, which determine whether you’ll convince someone to scavenge for you, how good a deal you strike with them or if you’ll escape a good beating by the people you inevitably cross. It plays much like a TellTale game, and while you won’t get as attached to the characters as the game keeps a light hearted tone, your choices do still matter and change how the story plays out. Nothing too crazy, and sometimes the characters just do or say things you have no control over, but at least it doesn’t pretend like you’re actually making important choices that will then be ignored so the story can loop back around to doing what it meant to do in the first place, like recent TellTale titles do.
There’s also no indication if your choices were good or bad, or if they have any meaning at all. You won’t be informed that a character remembered something you said or that they like you or dislike you, but that doesn’t mean they won’t remember and reference your past interactions with them and it does affect the story, which is something that I actually like. When games give you choices, you have to follow your gut and own up to the consequences, like real life, instead of trying to pick the obvious dialogue options to chase those pointless “this dude likes you” notifications. Strange how a game with cartoon animals imitates real life better in that sense than an award winning developer of dramatic story driven games. A lot of your choices play out off screen, but achievements will pop up to inform you that you did indeed just commit something horrible, as the two main characters tell each other how everything probably turned out fine which I found pretty hilarious. The dialogues in general are very good. They’re not too deep or too heavy but they’re funny and in a way more believable than many other games that take themselves too seriously. Nearly every one’s selfish and cruel and it plays out in the most humorous ways. Regardless what choices you make, you end up with loot that’s your only bargaining chip in this harsh world that’s not welcome to an elderly herbivore and a pooch. How you manage that determines how you’ll get through the apocalypse.
The graphics are charming though the animations are very basic. The developer’s past shows through the cracks as you could fool me if you told me this was an online flash game on some site. But no, this one runs on Unity and actually costs money, 5 euros to be exact, and if you didn’t realise it yet from the title, it’s part of an episodic series, whose later episodes will cost the same I assume. Now I definitely had fun with the game, and I would recommend anyone to play it. A breath of fresh air in a genre dominated by TellTale, who to be honest, has dropped the ball hard in recent years. I recently played their GoT title only to realise in the end that none of the choices you make matter. When the credits rolled I didn’t just feel disappointed, I felt duped. This game on the other hand makes no big promises, and the only thing I felt when I saw the credits roll was that it was over too soon. Unfortunately a playthrough will last a little bit more than an hour. Suddenly the 5 euro asking price seems a bit steep, especially when you multiply that by 2-4 or however many future entries there will be.
All in all Scheming through the Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning, Revengeance, featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series, and Knuckles, is a great choice for any fan of the genre. I only wish it lasted longer, and I eagerly await the next entry.