Zamb! Redux is a co-op action tower defence game from Xbox newcomers Nano Games, a Polish developer who have previously released the Steam games Reef Shot and Cityconomy. I must admit I have previously never heard of this studio so I approach Zamb! Redux with some excitement but also some trepidation.
As I have just mentioned, Zamb! Redux is a top down/isometric mash-up of a tower defence game and a twin-stick shooter. It is designed to be played in co-op, however it is possible to play as a single player with the second character being controlled by the AI, and allows you to switch between them with the left bumper. The premise of the game is relatively simple. There are 29 levels, full of mutant bugs created by the evil Dr Hundertwasser, who is hell-bent on taking over the galaxy. You take control of two special operatives, Cye and Chrome, who are sent to stop him (naturally).
Cye is a melee based character, with his power gauntlets and special power attacks, whilst Chrome wields a gun and has the ability to place turrets. Each level contains Reactors that you need to activate, and then defend from the mutant bugs. Turrets can be placed anywhere on the level, or on special bases which boost the turrets by increasing their range or power. Some turrets act as health regeneration points should you need a boost mid level, whilst there are also turrets that release poisonous gas. Cye has special attacks such as a freeze attack, and the combination of the turrets and special attacks can unleash even more powerful combos. The level is completed when all reactors are activated and all bugs are squashed.
Each level also has an element of replayability, as Zamb! Redux takes the approach of a mobile game with stars awarded for completing the level in a different way, such as completing in a certain time, or completing without using a turret. All turrets and skills can also be upgraded between levels, increasing their range, health and power.
All sounds fun and promising so far, but unfortunately the end product doesn’t match up to the idea. Whilst the initial few levels were fun and interesting, I reached level seven and I was bored. Although I had unlocked different turrets and skills there was nothing there to make me want to carry on playing. It just wasn’t fun. And there were two main reasons. Although Zamb! Redux feels like a twin stick shooter it doesn’t control like one. Usually in this genre of game the RS controls your direction and also fires but instead of this you still change your direction with the RS but have to use the right trigger to fire, and have to continuously press for each shot, rather than holding down. Which is a royal pain in the bum.
Whilst Chrome is a fun character to play, especially with his turret placement skill, Cye is not fun at all. His special attacks are aimed with the RS, and this is fiddly and has a set range, so useless if enemies are close, and I found myself having to run away before you can use it effectively. I found myself switching to Chrome and using him almost exclusively, whilst Cye ran headlong into battle and died in every single level whilst being controlled by the AI.
I did quite like the comic-book styling of Zamb! Redux, and it had a really nice introduction video complete with comic panel features. The graphics and animations were fine, although when there are a lot of enemies on screen it was sometimes difficult to work out where your character is, so again this meant a lot of running away. Zamb! Redux may be more suited to a younger gamer, as unfortunately there are better, more interesting and challenging (and cheaper) tower defence games out there to spend your money on.