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Monday, October 10, 2011

What I Learned From Atom Zombie Smasher

If civilization ever happens to crumble under the weight of an undead apocalypse, video games have taught me that I will be more than capable of single-handedly murdering hordes of hollow-eyed cannibals, and I could probably do it all with little more than a baseball bat and a couple of snappy one-liners.

Video games have taught me this lesson so well that I'm convinced there have already been at least three zombie outbreaks in the last year, but we never heard about them because they were almost instantly obliterated by one or two local Left4Dead vets, so hard-wired to perform head-shots to zeds that they probably killed a hundred or so before the killing even became a conscious act.

So while games like Left4Dead taught me that I will transform into an unstoppable killing machine during a zombie invasion, Atom Zombie Smasher taught me that I should never be in command of anything during a zombie invasion.

I should never lead troops.
I should never direct a city-wide evacuation.
I should never be the one who decides who lives and who dies.

You would all die. The living dead would find you in your homes and devour you alive. It would be the most horrible thing ever and it would be entirely my fault because I don't have a fucking clue how to evacuate a city full of helpless, innocent people before all of their lives are snuffed out in unspeakable ways that would make burning to death look like a sleeping pill overdose.

Since I started playing Atom Zombie Smasher I have witnessed the end of mankind about a dozen god-damned times. The subject matter that this game broaches is absolutely horrifying. On a minute-to-minute basis I found myself forsaking entire neighborhoods full of terrified people because the park three blocks over made for a better LZ for my rescue chopper.

So while everyone is loading up at the duck pond, I get a perfect, bird's-eye view of the neighborhood I abandoned to the zeds. The people there don't immediately understand that their lives are almost over, but when the zombie hordes turn onto their street and tighten the noose around their community, they know what I've done, and I know what I've done, and while the game treats those little yellow dots as nothing more than statistics, numbers don't panic and flee and die in the streets.

That's the kind of shit Atom Zombie Smasher demands from you. People will die. You can't save them all. You'll be lucky if you can save anyone.

Also, aside from the soul-crushing guilt, you'll probably have surf guitar stuck in your head for at least a week.


  1. Dear God, you make this little puzzly game sound like a harrowing journey of coming to terms with your own inadequacies as a leader of men... and now I want to play.

    Funny you mentioned zombies, though, because I just got involved with this DA community: http://umbagog.deviantart.com/. It's interesting because some of the zombies are sentient and crazy :P

  2. I have a friend who can't play any RTS games whatsoever because of the guilt he feels at the thought of sending his troops off to die. (Just for the record, though, my friend is a wierdo.)