Ed-0: Zombie Uprising is one of the most bizarre gaming experiences I have ever had, and most definitely not one I could recommend for everyone. It’s difficult, nonsensical, and quite tedious. But beyond that, there’s quite a lot of charm.
Ed-0 is a roguelike hack ‘n’ slash based in an alternate version of Edo period Japan, during a zombie outbreak. The game has you initially playing as a Samurai, who manages to resurrect as a “Zom-Being” and sets off on a journey to figure out what’s going on. The story is told through incredibly long-winded pre-stage narrative sequences, which are quite frankly mind-numbingly boring, and don’t give anywhere near enough information, considering the time it takes to get through them.
The gameplay and combat are where the game truly shines, with an incredible amount of variety within the game's mechanics and progression systems. Each stage is set in a multi-floor dungeon, akin to the Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon series — or so I’ve heard — and ends either at a set floor or after a boss fight. Littered throughout the floors are hordes of zombies which drop both Gold and Virtues upon death, alongside items which can be used to grow stronger. These mainly consist of Charms; equippable items with unique effects, such as increased damage at low health, enemies exploding upon death, or increased movement capabilities. These often have negative effects also and can be thrown at enemies, inflicting these effects on them instead. However, even the negative charms can be beneficial when used correctly. For example, a charm that permanently sets you on fire is typically a bad thing, but when combined with other charms that increase certain stats while on fire, they can be incredibly viable. This risk/reward does lead to some interesting decision-making through each run. There are also secret arts, unique attacks which can be equipped with a variety of uses, from counter-attacks to sweeps, AOE and buffs.
Combat could be more balanced and is often a pretty big source of frustration, as a bad run ends up just being a painfully tedious grind. Basic zombies have far too much health and usually take three or four basic attack combos to kill, which is where the secret arts shine. They’re the primary source of damage, which would be fine if any damaging arts were guaranteed throughout the early floors, but this isn’t the case. Certain items can also be used to combat the hordes, from throwing items such as knives and spears, to status orbs, such as blast and paralysis. RNG is an incredibly heavy factor in the general fun of this game, as bad RNG leads to a painfully slow grind through basic enemies, while good RNG leads to a very satisfactory power fantasy, using items and secret arts to tear through groups of enemies.
Roguelike progression is a forefront mechanic, using both gold and virtues to unlock permanent upgrades. Gold can be spent at the Dojo, directly unlocking permanent buffs such as damage, critical chance, and healing item usage and effectiveness. A percentage of gold is lost upon death, however, as some are retained each lost run doesn’t feel like a complete waste of time. Virtues can be spent to increase the number of available slots within the Vessel (an item to store blessings). These slots can be filled with blessings, which are attained through completing certain achievements, from killing a set amount of enemies to spending money. Only a limited amount can be equipped at once, which leads to an, albeit limited, amount of pre-planning.
Visually, the game is less than stellar, even at the highest quality, many of the textures are incredibly muddy, very reminiscent of the PlayStation 3 era. Despite this, there is a filter called the “Ed-0 Shader”, which surprisingly is quite impressive. Traditionally I avoid shaders and filters as they normally just make games look a little ugly; however, this shader makes the game look similar to a traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e painting, which I feel is a mass improvement over the game's bland visuals. I also found the game relatively problem free, except for some very minor bugs, such as enemies clipping through walls and into objects. Also, the game utilises Akira-Kurosawa-esque blood splatters which coat the surroundings, which is incredibly charming.
Ed-0: Zombie Uprising (Reviewed on Windows)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
Ed-0: Zombie Uprising is a very odd title which is relatively hard to recommend to many people, however it most definitely has an audience. If you’re willing to put up with the game’s many quirks, you may find something to love here.