Atom Zombie Smasher is a very unique zombie apocalypse-centric game, and is definitely worth checking out. This indie game is probably the most light-hearted zombie game I’ve played, but at the same time it’s probably the most stressful and terrifying. I didn’t know this combination was possible. The reason I say this is because the aesthetics are very cartoony and it’s coupled with surf-rock music and the story anecdotes they have are humorous (granted, it’s dark humor). The reason I say it’s stressful is because this isn’t a game about killing all the zombies; rather it’s about trying to save as many survivors as possible, and you quickly find out that it’s simply not possible to save all of the survivors, in fact, you’re lucky to just meet the goal.
This game is a wonderful example of good storytelling through gameplay. As a military tactician, you have to play a game of numbers, and the top-down view with all the units represented by dots is a good visual of this. It is a way of disassociating the survivors from being actual people, as I imagine someone who would be responsible for their care would try and do, since they can’t all be saved. However, if you’re like me, you’ll find that you can’t completely disconnect yourself from these dots and you become really tense when you see one lone purple dot (a zombie) coming towards a yellow cluster (survivors) because the second that purple dot reaches the cluster, a group of people just turned into a horde of zombies. If you’re lucky you’ll have snipers that you can aim in that direction to protect the people, but chances are you won’t. From mission to mission you are given scarce units to use. You might be given only barriers, trip mines, and a stink bomb thing that attracts the zombies and have to figure out how to work with just those.
The difficulty of this game is fitting though since it is a zombie apocalypse; it’s not going to be easy.