Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Zombie Love

Last year for Christmas, my brother got me World of Goo--a video game where you have to use different kinds of goo balls to build structures, which then help the goo balls escape the level.  Or something like that.  It was a lot of fun.  I don't think I ever played it all the way through, but I really enjoyed having to think through the puzzle of how to use the different goo balls together to solve the puzzle.  It reminded me of being on the Odyssey of the Mind team in middle school.

A similar kind of game is Fantastic Contraption, a Flash-based game where you use different material (sticks, wheels, flexible connectors, etc.) to get a ball into a box.  Again, it's a game that's a lot of fun, and a good way to feel like you're stretching your mind.

I recently came across another game that feels similar to these two--and it involves zombies!

The game's full title is "I saw her standing there, but then she was a zombie," and it was designed by Nicholas Younge, with creative inspiration coming from his roommate, Kelly Wright.  In it, you are play a person who sees a girl, realizes she's a zombie, and then loves her anyways.  Your goal in each level is to get her in a cage, so that you can stay safe from her but not have to kill her.  In later levels, you have to avoid other zombies who don't love you (and who you don't love), and at one point, you even get a gun so that you can shoot these other zombies.

Like Fantastic Contraption, "I saw her standing there" is a browser-based Flash game with very simple graphics; people are circle heads on top of rectangle bodies, there is no scenery, the color scheme is mostly black lines against a light background.  The simplicity of the game's graphics, though, are part of what makes it work.  It's clear that the puzzle is the focus of this game, not some glitzy graphics, and the minimalist drawings and single sentence of plot with each level gives you the opportunity to fill in your own story if you want. 

The simplicity of the color, too, is very effective--the bright pink of the girl zombie, and then the red heart that appears when she gets close to you (or that breaks when you die) stand out in a game that is mostly otherwise devoid of color.  And through this very simple use of color, it comes across as a love story as much as it does a puzzle game/zombie escape story.  The lack of guts and gore--a staple of the zombie genre--is also intriguing, and makes me wonder what it is that defines the genre.  Asked another way, can you have a zombie video game without blood?

I haven't beaten all the levels yet--there are 3 acts with 5 levels in each act, and I've completed about half of them.  But from what I've played, the game is simple, yet challenging enough to be satisfying when you complete a level.  It's fun to see how the game progresses, and to think about zombies being in love.  And it's worth sticking with it until the ending.  There are pancakes involved, and who doesn't like pancakes?