Double Kick Heroes Preview - A Repetitive Zombie Game
Double Kick Heroes is an overly repetitive title that seems like it could work, but it fails. The game tries to mask these issues with a surplus of intricate details, yet this doesn't really work.
Double Kick Heroes follows a metal band that just finished a secluded six month training session only to be introduced to a zombie-infested world. Following the flow of chaos, they transformed their Cadillac into a ‘Gundillac’ and proceed to mow down zombies with headbanging tunes attached to guns on the back of their car.
The game takes an entirely original idea and throws it into the genre of post-apocalyptic music rhythm. However, the execution doesn't live up to the concept. While the central idea is interesting and fresh, the overused trope of zombie apocalypse has become stale. Incorporating this into a heavy metal group that wants to save the remnants of the human race is praiseworthy, but quickly torn down by repetitive metal, thrash, black, and other types of music. Even with the different styles, nothing made a large impact for the music to be distinguishable from the rest.
When playing at one of the five difficulties, more or less is added or subtracted from the base rhythm game. In order to mix things up, up and down movement is thrown into the mix along with another button to keep the beat of the original style. This game was intended to be ostentatious, but an inability to concentrate on rhythm, notes, and the direction enemies are coming makes for a problematic playthrough. With repetitive music, tedious level design, and a difficulty scale ranging from laughably easy to ridiculously hard, nothing makes the player want to continue the game.
Though the story is overused and simply cliche, it features some witty dialogue and colorful language that really give each character their unique feel. Not all of them are pure metalheads whose only goal in life is to rock out. The story even deepens each character as it continues, connecting them to the player instead of just simply going into Arcade mode and annihilating zombies.
The zombies and visual design also bring something to the table for Double Kick Heroes. The Zombies and the bosses offer an interesting variety and uniqueness. With no shortage of ideas for zombies, we see things like undead babies and zombie vultures. The boss fights were challenging and engaging enough that those levels are worth another go just for the joy of defeating a dinosaur or shark zombie.
The game follows a linear storyline, flowing without issue. Even when the plot takes you to places such as the desert, you will see vulture zombies; in places like the city, you’ll see zombies on motorcycles.
The use of pixel graphics, painted backgrounds, and detailed map work brings life to the game. Characters are never at a standstill, each having their animation and musical instrument playing during the raids. They exhibit different animations while at safe houses, making the world feel more amiable. The bright colors and pixel graphics fall into place with the post-apocalyptic world that the protagonists find themselves in.
The map is easy to navigate and understand, but constant return trips to safe houses for information on missions becomes a nuisance. The map also features roads and places that cannot be traveled, but seem to be accessible at some point later in the game.
Once reaching the ‘end,’ there is a road signed “work in progress” and hints that the game is not over, or at least that there's more content to come. Looking into the achievements and badge cards on Steam, some characters haven't been introduced yet. The game seems to have plans to release more content.
Double Kick Heroes offers an arcade mode on top of their story and even a level editor mode that lets you pick zombies, the background, and add music. This allows the player to not have to only play the provided metal, but any music that you have already downloaded onto your computer.
Double Kick Heroes has potential, but it stumbles due to its repetitive nature. However, with more to come, it could change that design. For now, it wallows in its misgivings and there's nothing that makes the game worth playing for long.