Super Zombie Boy

In the upcoming Deadlings from Artifex Mundi, the Grim Reaper has decided to make nice with the living world once and for all. After all, he’s always getting such a bad rep from humans, but it’s not his fault that people sometimes die! So to make it up to them, the Reaper drafts a genius plan to raise the dead and get them on their way. The result, of course, is hoards and hoards of brain-loving zombies.

I recently had some time to go hands-on with an early build of the game, and believe it or not, Deadlings actually plays out like an awesome cross between tough-as-nails platformer Super Meat Boy, and a more strategic zombie affair like Plants vs. Zombies. At the start of each level, you’ll be presented with a digital overview of the level layout, where you can scope out the location of each brain collectable and plan your most efficient path. Once you have your bearings all set, you tap on the starting point and choose which type of zombie you’d like to unleash, and which direction you’d like them to start running in.

Deadlings

At this point the game switches over to its Super Meat Boy inspiration, with your selected zombie automatically running forward in the direction you’ve chosen, and your new task being to make them jump over spikes and other obstacles by quickly tapping on the screen. If you mess up the timing, your zombie will splatter against the environment and remain a bloody mess there until you either finish the level or use a special power-up to resurrect him. But not to worry though! Each level will give you a fixed number of the undead to go through, so you have a little breathing room on your endless quest for brains.

Of course once the new gameplay mechanics get introduced, Deadlings quickly ramps up into a seriously head scratching affair (which reminds me, do zombies have dandruff?). Some of the early new elements I encountered in my brief playthrough were teleportation devices that forced you to tackle a level in particular segments, and a new zombie type with an incredible high jump and the power to cling onto the walls. With the way these different gameplay mechanics gradually build to a truly zombified crescendo, I can’t wait to find out what some of the end-game levels are going to look like!

Deadlings

But besides the excellent blend of platforming and strategy gameplay, Deadlings just immediately stands out because of its quirky style and fun sense of humor. From the colorful cutscenes and adorable characters, to the level names that reference some of the biggest zombie-themed movies, games, and TV shows in popular culture, like “The Working Dead,” “The Last of Them,” and “World War D,” Deadlings not only has a lot of heart, but a whole lot of squishy brains to match! You can look for the game to hit iOS and Android platforms sometime in January 2014.