Halloween is the time of year when all the ghouls and goblins come out to play, but where can we turn when we want to play games with all the goblins and ghouls? Thanks to flash developer Nitrome the answer can be found without ever having to leave your browser.
Graveyard Shift puts you in charge of a one man Halloween death squad, and we can honestly say that doing battle with the things that go bump in the night has rarely been this much fun.
Graveyard Shift is a browser-based shooter reminiscent of the old light gun days of games gone by. A spooky side-scroller, you'll be tasked with shooting the unholy armies of the undead with little more than a click of the mouse and a whole lot of courage to protect you. Well – courage and a shield.
Some of the enemies you'll face have the ability to launch ranged attacks your way. Pressing the space bar will turn your crosshairs into a shield that will let you block these incoming attacks so long as you can move your mouse in time. Like all good scary games though, your defences won't hold up for long. The more attacks you block the more your shield breaks apart and gets smaller and smaller. This means you'll need to take out the bad guys before they ever get a chance to attack you. It's a tough act to pull off, but trying keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Defending yourself isn't the only objective in the game. Sometimes a maiden will pop onto the screen that needs protecting. Failure to protect her means your health meter is going to take a dip, but it's nearly impossible to keep her alive. The longer you keep her breathing fresh air though, the more likely you are to find some much needed health before the princess turns into a zombie luncheon.
As you progress through the game, each level will introduce new weapons and new enemies that help keep things fresh. Each of these behave differently than anything you've encountered before , and you'll more often than not encounter a mix of enemy types at the same time. This means you might be trying to keep the plants from spitting poison at you while at the same time trying to keep the zombies from attacking the maiden. Toss in some gargoyles and other flying demons and you've got a frenzied mish-mosh of enemies to contend with.
Adding in new weapons is a nice touch, but once you pick up a weapon you're stuck with it. If you find the sword a little too slow and ineffective for your fighting style, you can't just switch back to the gun. It's a small complaint, but one worth noting. Thankfully each weapon that's not the gun is prone to breaking or running out of ammo, so you'll get back to the default eventually.
Graveyard Shift has tons of personality, lots of variety, and terrific gameplay mechanics – but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that the game gets hard. That frantic edge-of-your-seat excitement turns into somewhat of a struggle a few levels in, but never so much so that we wanted to walk away. Tough levels made us want to prove our worth rather than throw in the towel, and in our opinion that's a big indicator of great game design.
If Duck Hunt and Ghosts'n'Goblins had a baby, Graveyard Shift would be their unholy progeny. There's a certain old school design element in Graveyard Shift that brings back all the fun of the 16-bit era in a tight, new, browser-based package. Sure the game gets a little frantic, but if you're looking for a zombie-infested good time without ever leaving the comfort of your browser, Graveyard Shift is the fun-filled fright fest you'll want to settle down with.