Review: Zombie Goddess

Solid 3D action foundation in need of more content

True console class 3D action games are still a rarity on iOS. iPhone and iPad gamers don’t have a Dynasty Warriors or a God of War. Many developers have tried and failed to bring fun, well-implemented 3D action gameplay to iOS. Zombie Goddess is the latest to aim for that goal. I previewed Zombie Goddess last month. Since then, the game has been polished up further and balanced. It is a fun, beautiful 3D action game – but is that enough?

Zombie Goddess Enemy Waves
Use powerful weapons to fight off endless waves of zombies

The goal of Zombie Goddess is to survive as long as possible against waves of the undead, killing as many as possible, and collecting as much gold as you can find. Completing various objectives – for example, decapitating 20 zombies in one game – increases the amount of gold dropped. This gold is used to unlock additional weapons and characters, leveling up the weapons you have, or unlocking perks for the next level.

The real meat of the gameplay lies in chaining together attack combos. When you collect enough gold to unlock an additional weapon, that weapon will periodically spawn throughout the map. Collecting that weapon can significantly alter the feel of the game — the daggers are fast-striking weapons, allowing for rapid fire attacks; the bow is a ranged weapon controlled through the right analog stick, turning the game temporarily into a dual-stick shooter; the axe is a heavy, powerful weapon requiring careful timing to avoid taking damage while wielding it.

Zombie Goddess Bow Dual Stick Shooter
Aim the bow with the right analog stick, dodge enemy attacks with the left

The biggest issue with Zombie Goddess isn’t what the game includes, but what it doesn’t.The game consists of 3 levels total, each of which can be replayed for higher scores, more achievements, and more gold. The problem is, there is very little progression aside from that. There are no RPG style components, with character improvement. There is no storyline. There is no multiplayer. In short, aside from the basic gameplay of surviving against waves of enemies, there’s not really anything else to do. Killing enemies gives you gold, and gold allows you to unlock new weapons. That’s fun, but there’s not a whole lot else to do.

Zombie Goddess Special Attacks
Each weapon has it’s own special attack

I was invited by the developers to help test the controller support in Zombie Goddess, and I’m happy to say that it plays quite well with the Moga Ace Power, SteelSeries Stratus, and Logitech PowerShell. Many of the tweaks I’ve suggested have already been implemented. It isn’t perfect – I’ve long wished for camera control of some kind, and there’s no menu support at this time. According to the developers, camera control should be arriving in the next update. The game is still a lot of fun with a controller in its current form — far better than using touch controls, and reminiscent of the type of gameplay experience you could expect from playing a true console action game.

Zombie Goddess Finger Slice
Throw your enemy into the air, then slice them into pieces with your finger

Zombie Goddess manages to be an entertaining, though relatively small, game. The gameplay is fun, the graphics are great, the controls fluid; things could be a lot worse. it is far, far better to have a great foundation in need of content than it is to have built a ton of content build on a terrible foundation. Zombie Goddess has the great foundation. The job now is to add more content. Personally, I really hope that happens.

For action game fans, it’s worth keeping Zombie Goddess on your watch list. With the right updates, it could be a true iOS classic. As it is, it’s a fun, though limited, look at what could come. It’s available as an ad supported free download, with a one time in-app purchase to remove the ads, unlock 2/3 of the levels, and increase coin drops. There are no timers or premium currencies. Action game fans, download Zombie Goddess, give it a shot, and join me in hoping the developers add the content needed to turn this into the full-fledged game it deserves to be.

Update 4/21/2014:

Zombie Goddess was recently updated with improvements to gameplay, as well as the removal of a somewhat tasteless feature I criticized in this review. This review has been edited to reflect these changes. The removed section is preserved below for posterity, but is no longer relevant.

Obsolete information

It’s worth mentioning a “feature” that has generated a bit of controversy. The developers of Zombie Goddess included a “Jiggle Breasts” option for the female player-controlled characters, and advertised that option in the App Store description. To quote: “Hot Heroine Kills hordes of Zombies. Its the hot chick in Resident evil without the guns. Choose between three Hot looking Goddesses. You’ll Love This – you get to Turn On “Jiggle Breast” effect!!!”

Sexism in the video game industry is a serious problem. Female developers are underrepresented and harassed. Gamers are subject to constant harassment on any internet game service you want to name based on their gender. As an industry, we’re making progress – a growing number of people are getting sick and tired of seeing how women in technology have become marginalized and harassed. Things like this aren’t helping. I don’t think the developers of Zombie Goddess were thinking about that one way or the other when they included this feature; it wasn’t included out of any dislike for women, but it still it comes across as thoughtless, insensitive, and tacky. Very few games can pull “sexual humor” off in a way that doesn’t convey those feelings. If the developers had simply enabled jiggling and not mentioned anything about it, that would be one thing. But advertising it upfront as a setting just feels off. I suggested repeatedly that this setting be removed; ultimately I’m surprised both that the developers opted to include it, and that it made it past Apple’s review process.

Zombie Goddess Jiggle Breast Engine
This shouldn’t be here in 2014

It is great to see the developers actively responding and improving the game, and I’m personally excited to see what will be added in the future.