The launch of the PSPGo meant a deluge of new content on the Playstation Store for PSP owners, so last night I spent some time poking around to see what was available. One of the demos I found was for Tecmo’s Undead Knights, a game that feels like a cross between a Dynasty Warrior style brawler and Overlord.
This being a demo, I don’t really know who you are or what your motivation is. I just knew I was here and the game wanted me to go there. And I had a really big sword. And I could turn enemies into zombies. And the odds were against me. So I waded in swinging.
When you get near an enemy in Undead Knights, you can hit the Circle button to grab them by the throat and convert them into a zombie. As soon as you grab them, a circular gauge starts filling. Once it fills, the enemy is converted. If you get clobbered during the process you’ll drop your foe and have to start over again. However, if you give the opponent a solid whack with your sword first, he’ll blink red. While blinking you can insta-convert him.
Left to their own devices, zombies generally act like zombies, stumbling around attacking anything that comes close. But you can grab a zombie and hold him up to use as a shield, or you can grab one and throw it at an enemy, which will cause that zombie to attack the enemy you threw it at. Early in the demo you’re faced with a big ogre thing, and to bring it down you have to throw a bunch of zombies at it. They’ll crawl all over the creature and eventually will bring it to its knees, at which time you charge in and deliver the coup de grace with your sword.
You can also ‘point’ at an object and direct your zombie horde to interact with it. This works almost exactly like Overlord. There’ll be a gate that needs tearing down, so you face it, hit the right shoulder button and cry DESTROY THAT! and your zombies will charge it. You’ll see a counter showing how many are attacking the object vs how many you need to have on it to destroy it. If you don’t get enough zombie-power on there quickly enough, they’ll all fall off, take damage, and you’ll be back at square 1. It can take your zombies some time to stop what they’re doing and shamble over to the target, during which time you might be attacked and have to stop giving orders. Which again, means the zombies fall off, taking damage, and the obstacle remains in place. At one point in the demo you even have the zombies form an un-living bridge for you to run across!
If it sounds like un-life is hard on a zombie, you’re correct. They take a real beating and don’t last very long, so you’ll constantly have to refresh your supply (tip: when a zombie is missing his head he doesn’t have too much more time left). Luckily enemy foot soldiers seem virtually endless, and they’re easy to take down and zombie-fy. More skilled enemies are more rare, harder to kill, and harder to zombie-fy (but when you do, they seem to be identical to the grunt zombies, so it makes no sense to go to the extra effort of zombifying your tougher opponents).
I had a lot of fun for the duration of the demo and if you have a PSP (and don’t mind gory zombie combat) I suggest you check it out. Frankly it isn’t a game I’m going to run out to buy right now at full price, not with all the AAA titles coming in the next couple of weeks. But it’s one I’ll put on my watch list to pick up on sale during the next gaming drought.
Here’s a gameplay video a snagged off of YouTube. Not created by me but it gives a good sample of almost everything I just mentioned, if you watch carefully: