Three Dead Zed is a puzzle platformer in which you control an experimental zombie with the ability to shapeshift. Each form has their own specific use, so it’s what I imagine The Lost Vikings might have turned in to if someone stumbled upon their corpses, played a little Dr. Frankenstein, and then reanimated them with some old fashioned video game necromancy.
Right from the start, you’re introduced to our undead hero and the game’s gorgeous character art. Every character is hand drawn with a quality that resembles something like Castle Crashers, featuring fluid animations and very likeable designs. Even the levels and interactive objects in the environment are hand drawn, so Three Dead Zed definitely looks uniform and polished.
The platforming is also well executed. The game offers full controller support, which is always a plus in regards to 2D platformers. Each of Zed’s three forms serve a different purpose, such as activating switches, wall-jumping, or destroying things. However, this is where my major complaint with Three Dead Zed lies — its pacing.
Within the first few tutorial levels, you’ve already seen everything the game has to offer. You’re introduced to all three forms, shown what their purpose is, and that’s basically that. From that moment forward, you’re thrown in to level after level of avoiding similar hazards while figuring out when to use which form. The lack of anything new really hindered my enjoyment of the game after the first hour or so. I sat there, controller in hand, waiting to see if the next stage offered something different. Unfortunately it didn’t.
Three Dead Zed is a very technically sound game though, as I mentioned. Platforming can be a bit touchy using the more agile wall-jumping form, but I did enjoy playing as each of them. Zed’s normal form is that of a smart zombie. He can activate switches, jump an average height, move smaller objects, and flail his arms about to attack. The stronger female form could barely jump over a dictionary, but her brute strength allows her to destroy walls and other objects necessary to press forward. The agile, spider-nerd form runs around in his underwear at faster speeds, can jump quite far, and even wall jump, but he’s unable to attack.
So what’s the point of the game, besides switching forms and dodging hazards? Rescuing cats, of course! Hidden around each level are cats in tin foil hats, and they need your help. You’ll also come across secret passages and hidden items, so it’s more than just finding the elusive kitten in distress. The whole experience should last you around 3 hours, but again, your character is limited from the very beginning.
I really enjoyed the first half of the game, but once I noticed that there was nothing else to do but more of the same, the last half became a little hum-drum. I kind of wish they spread the forms out a bit more, introducing each one a little later in the game. That way you could have enjoyed each form slowly, and then used everything you just learned to finish off the remainder of the game; rather than jumping in to the entire concept head first, and then repeating the same thing for the next few hours.
Overall, Three Dead Zed is a fun platformer and I’d say that it’s worth its $5 price tag. The quality of the platforming and character design is well executed, with the latter being a bit more praiseworthy. But unfortunately, what you see is what you get. It’s not a bad game by any means; far from it actually. It just really suffers from its pacing, which caused it to become repetitious well before its conclusion.
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 video game journalist 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.