Ed-0: Zombie Uprising – Have You Tried Vomiting on the Zombies?

I play a lot of game. I review a lot of games. Sometimes, a game transcends the review format to become something beautiful: An editorial. There are times when just going over the features and gameplay in a review format just isn’t enough. Sometimes I want to talk about inspiration, execution, and consternation. This brings us to Ed-0: Zombie Uprising. Ed-0: Zombie Uprising should not work. It is a third person dungeon-crawing roguelike set in the Edo period of Japan. Just describing it is a mouthful. Just typing its title is difficult. Everything about it is almost unapproachable in some shape or form. The thing is: It’s really, really good.

It is a strange commonality how often I talk about me bouncing off of a game in the first few hours. I sit down with a clinical eye to detail. The reviewers curse. I can see the matrix, the ones and zeroes, and can pick out the jank from a thousand yards. This often leads to me hyper focusing on a flaw. I eventually sit myself down and explain to myself that all games have flaws, and seeing beyond them is what makes for a good reviewer. This self pep talk -usually performed in one of the body-length mirrors strewn haphazardly around my house – is a mental exercise that lets me not just play games, but experience them. So when I first sat down to play Ed-0: Zombie Uprising, I bounced off. I was sitting on my couch and my wife was watching me play.

“Oh no, it’s bad”, I said to her after roughly 10 minutes of gameplay. “It’s cumbersome. It’s janky. It makes no sense”. When I started playing, the controls felt stiff. I was picking up items that I had no idea how to use. I was confused. Ed-0: Zombie Uprising is a 3rd person dungeon crawler rogulike, like I specified above. You play as a samurai, and you’re dropped into a forest teeming with zombies. You’ll do your best to chop through them while moving from floor to floor. There are items on the ground, or dropped by enemies, that can be used to gain an advantage. There are also items that completely and utterly screw you over. I picked up a “drunkeness charm”. I thought that it would make the zombies drunk, but in fact, it made by character throw up on himself and ragdoll every 20 seconds. While I was a bit bummed that my run was definitely over, it was hilarious to watch my character experience drunkenness like a fifteen year old who just had his first 5 beers at the urging of his friends.

It was at that point that I realized that the jank was actually super charming. The lack of polish was made up for with an abundance of creativity. Before I knew it, I had been playing for hours. Ed-0: Zombie Uprising has that roguelike “one more run” appeal. Each time I was struck down, I wanted to come back for more. The amount of care that’s gone into making the items funny, useful, dangerous, or downright useless is a constant source of entertainment. I got a charm that made me, the player, explode every 30 seconds. It made the run impossible. I would run up to a group of enemies, and explode up into the sky, fully ragdolled, before landing at their feet, cooked and ready to eat. The game is not friendly to the player. It’s more of an acquaintance. It doesn’t care if you do well or poorly, and the items are just there randomly. They won’t always help, they won’t always hurt.

Every 5 floors you enter a kind of break space where you can grab healing items, change out weapon abilities, or upgrade yourself. In Ed-0: Zombie Uprising you start out just being able to swing your sword. It’s a basic attack that does low damage. You’ll want to find ability scrolls. These scrolls add special attacks that do high damage. Much like the charms, they can be completely useless. You can have up to three of these attacks. I usually try to find scrolls that give me big sweeping attacks to cut through hordes of zombies. Sometimes all I can find is a scroll that lets me bow to the zombies for roughly 30 damage (spoiler: that’s not a lot). I’ve heard that there are actually multiple characters to pick from, but I have no idea how. Ed-0: Zombie Uprising is just fun. I don’t know how much more I can tell you to get across that it’s fun. It is goofy, difficult, frustrating fun.

It is a game that I find myself picking up randomly and playing. It has the qualities of a rogue-like, without all the need for strategy. Just get weird with it, seems to be the mantra going into Ed-0: Zombie Uprising. So, just get weird with it. It’s an underrated gem, and more folks should check it out. I think that’s why I wanted to write about it. It is also currently in early access, which means that over time it will only get more polished, and hopefully weirder. I want you to play it. I want you to join in the conversation about this weird and wonderful creation. Come find me on Twitter, and we can talk about it.