If you ever wanted to be the protagonist of a 90’s sci-fi action film, Zombotron, a new game developed by Ant Karlov and is published by Armor Games Studios, is your game. The developer introduces the player to the hero with the following description, “Blaze Rush is a mercenary desperate for a job. In search of an easy payday he follows a distress beacon to the surface of a dangerous planet and the remains of an ancient crash site. There he finds a mystery that will test his strength, his resolve, and every gun in his arsenal. Zombotron features an arsenal of weapons and armor, enemies that hate each other as much as they hate you, and really nice explosions for an experience that’s out of this world.”
Blaze is a mix between sci-fi action hero and famed bounty hunter Samus Aran, and he lands on the planet Zombotron as the only human left to unravel the mystery behind both the distress signal and the zombie-like species that is plaguing the planet.
This is a sequel of the popular web games of the same name. Art Karlov has been a game developer for the better part of a decade and these releases show his experience throughout the years. While the story is eerily similar to many movies and science fiction novels, it is gripping and compels the player to continue their journey with Blaze to find the source of the distress beacon and understand what happened on the planet. The plot isn’t making any radical changes to the science fiction genre, yet I found myself drawn in, similar to other games in the genre.
While the story brought me in, it was the game play that kept me coming back. Run and gun games are a genre that have in recent memory not received enough love. From the first trailer I was immediately back playing the metal slug genre running though many enemy types. Zombotron does this well, though some of the shooting can feel a bit loose. As with most horror/zombie games the ability to land head shots allows for the satisfying damage while also conserving resources. The looseness of the controls is concerning as bullets feel as though they float above or just below the hit box.
As the game progressed the only other element that felt off was when Blaze dies. There were times during my deaths I would lose my items, including my weapons. While the loss of a weapon added to the ambience and leaned into the survival horror aspect of the setting, it at times felt frustrating. You as a player just died, usually an indication of a tough area or a lack of supplies, so losing your equipment on top of that is rubbing salt in the wounds. Though the loss of equipment highlights the multiple options available to the player. Whether you prefer to run and gun or are a player who loves to use the environment to your advantage, Zombotron offers many ways to tackle the areas Blaze encounters.
The graphics are an area in which Zombotron stands out. From the intricate models, to the individual equipment, each of the assets strives to give it personality. I was first struck by the way the background imagery and the interact-able objects played nicely together. In a lot of run and guns, red objects mean explosive, while Zombotron sticks to this classic gaming trope it doesn’t feel forced. The graphic style goes to further accent the visceral headshots as well as the overall action scenes. There was a moment early on in Zombotron when I dropped an explosive barrel into a pit of enemies, the explosion quickly eviscerated my enemies who in a previous run had caused my hero a ton of trouble. It was the graphics of the explosion and the reaction of the enemies the added to that encounter.
Zombotron is a fun run and gun that pulls the player into its world. It is a great game for any fan of the Sci-Fi genre. and it also caters to anyone who has played a classic run and game like Metal Slug or is a fan of classic horror films like Alien. Even with its loose controls and frustrating deaths, I look forward to putting in more time with Blaze Rush. Zombotron is out now and can be found on Steam, the Humble Store and Kartridge.