Zombie games are still a big deal and it continues to blow my mind that this is the case. What hasn’t been done in a zombie game? Think about it. We’ve shot zombies and we’ve cut zombies. We’ve set zombies on fire. We’ve run over zombies and cured zombies and beat zombies with baseball bats. We’ve even participated as part of the horde in games like Valve’s Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. Over the last few years, there’s not much we haven’t done to or with zombies across multiple genres, including puzzle and even tower defense. This thought has crossed my mind several times: what can a brand new zombie game even offer outside of a slight twist on what we’ve done before?
And then Brainsss [$2.99] shambles along and shatters this idea in my head that zombie games are lame because there’s just nothing left to do in them that we haven’t done trillions of times in a billion different games. Brainsss offers something new in the space, and its core action is rich enough for me to give it a solid recommendation, despite cooling on this zombie … craze we’re still in.
Brainsss is a top-down strategy game where you control a horde of zombies on quests to assimilate people into your horde. In order to do this, you’ll need to treat the ever-growing horde like a fleet, splitting it up into pieces so you can trap victims spread across the game’s myriad of labyrinthine levels, which are often brimming with helpless survivors who are ready to bolt the second they see snarling beasts approaching. As you convert more people, you’ll be able to meaningfully split your horde into even more groups.
There are a few change of pace design elements that compliment the strategy. The “RAGE" meter in particular is hip. As you do damage, you’ll be able to enter into a berserk mode that ramps up your horde’s speed and intensity. On the other hand, the mission design is sharp, too. In one level, you might be stopping survivors from feeling to a helicopter. In others, you’re chomping on scientists who were incredibly fleet of foot before running into your horde. Another neat twist: Brainnsss also rocks NPCs that can harm your horde, like police officers and backyard pugilists that you have to disarm in specific ways.
Brainsss biggest problem is probably its habit of skewing casual. You’re not going to feel like you’re the smartest undead general ever while trapping dudes. The controls can be a bit spotty as well. To split your horde, you need to “paint" over part of it, and then point to a new location in the level. Grabbing a specific amount can be a hassle if your horde is bunched tightly. Otherwise, the point-and-paint controls are bliss: this is a game that feels like and operates like a game designed for iPad and iPhone.
If you’re still into zombie games, or just need to check another thing you’ve done with zombies off of your mental checklist, feel free to check this out. Brainnsss strategy and action feel pretty unique in a space that’s been done to undeath, and they probably really pop outside of this vacuum. I can dig it, at least.