Have you ever dreamed of assembling a jigsaw puzzle during a zombie infestation? Well now you can cross that off of your bucket list thanks to Decaying Logic and their oddly satisfying jigsaw puzzle, tower defense, zombie survival hybrid, Pixel Puzzles: UndeadZ! And who said the zombie genre was getting stale?
In what may very well be the most absurd and delicious genre hybrid released thus far in 2014, Pixel Puzzles: UndeadZ somehow successfully combines jigsaw puzzles, tower defense and zombie survival in to one game. There are 19 different puzzles to choose from, most of which are unlocked over time and feature some pretty gruesome artwork resembling 90’s-era Cannibal Corpse album covers.
You’ll attempt to assemble each puzzle using drag-and-drop mechanics via your mouse, all while mowing down zombies, purchasing upgrades, setting up barricades, trip mines, and lugging out grenades to avoid being eaten alive on the bottom portion of the screen. Your survivor is controlled using the ASDW keys while your mouse hand covers puzzle detail, and it’s up to your brain to make sense out of everything while you struggle to maintain control of the situation at hand. You’ll also want to pay close attention to the timer on the bottom-left of your screen, as once it reaches zero, you’re in for a large wave of undead instead of the usual one or two that spawn in the meantime.
As if trying to assemble your puzzle while not being eaten wasn’t enough, they also have varying degrees of difficulty and can range from 60 to 350 pieces. Oh, and the pieces float around the perimeter of the screen, so good luck finding those corner pieces that you so badly need! It’s a stressful experience but in the absolute best way possible, and the way it all comes together is actually pretty ingenious.
Placing pieces down in the right location randomly rewards you with Zombucks, which can be used to refill ammo and grenades, as well as purchase barriers and trip mines to thwart the zombie advance. As you can see how vital those things are to your survival, the problem here lies in the randomness in which you’re awarded the currency, especially on the harder puzzles. Nothing sucks more than getting in the groove, only to find that you’ve run out of Zombucks and you’re about 5 seconds away from another massive wave of zombies with a taste for face meats. I just wish there was a little more structure to how you earn cash, such as lowering the amount earned and handing it out for each correct piece perhaps.
Jigsaw puzzles are supposed to be relaxing, right? Apparently you’ve never tried to assemble one while firing off live rounds! But hey, if you just want to relax and put together a puzzle of a zombie fetus exploding from the womb of its dead mother, the option is there. FreePlay Mode was recently added to Pixel Puzzles: UndeadZ, which basically removes the zombie survival portion of the game and just allows you to get your puzzle on.
For the $6.99 price tag on Steam, you get a pretty hefty amount of content that’s already available. What’s more is that Decaying Logic offers free DLC updates, adding even more incentive to pick it up if this seems like something you’re interested in. Aside from the randomness in which you earn Zombucks, the higher difficulty of the later puzzles, and the overall lack of variety in level designs, I found a lot to like with the game, most notably its art style and its bold attempt at crossing multiple genres that have absolutely no business being in the same room together. In an industry full of reboots, knockoffs, and cookie cutter nonsense, Pixel Puzzles: UndeadZ is a breath of fresh air, especially when you consider how over-saturated the zombie market is. The fact that it’s unique deserves praise in itself.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling news, reviews, and a bit of our public relations communications. He’s an aspiring writer and Baltimore native that can usually be found watching terrible B-movies or knee-deep in a roguelike, a horror game or some sort of point-and-click adventure. His favorite console is the Dreamcast, favorite game is the original Metroid, and he could watch The Goonies for the rest of his life. Contact him by e-mail at the address above, or follow his insanity on Twitter.