Til Undeath Do Us Part
Humans have an urge to destroy. It is undeniable. Smashing things releases chemical endorphins in our brain that make us happy. You already know this. It’s science. In that sense, the protagonist of My Zombie Wife is nobler than all of us. He destroys not because he wants to, but because he has to. His once lovely bride has been transfigured into a grotesque zombie, and now he must develop a cure to turn her back into a human. Behind his smashing, there is meaning, purpose. There’s more to this man than just a brute who breaks things, and there’s more to this game as well. Lemon Jam Studio’s My Zombie Wife succeeds by turning a fun idea into an enjoyable game.
In Sickness and In Health
There are three buttons which control the character. Two of which move him left and right, while the last one is used to hit and break objects, or talk to characters and move to the next area. At first, the interface is confusing because there are a lot of different icons and the brief tutorial does not cover everything. But it doesn’t take long to grasp the fundamental concepts.
The main goal in this game is to cure your wife by researching and creating vaccines. To make vaccines, you need a combination of pills and gold. There are two machines in your laboratory that are constantly making pills and gold every second, even when you’re not playing. You can use resources found out in the world to upgrade them, making them produce materials faster. However, the radiation brought on by the zombie apocalypse damages you when you’re outside of your lab, and you can only carry so many items at a time in your cart.
My Zombie Wife focuses on smashing, but at heart it is an Indie RPG. You can level up which improves your health (to stay outside longer), your power (to break things easier), or your speed (to move through areas and explore quicker). You can also buy items that make you stronger and faster, or upgrade your cart so it can carry more.
To Love and to Cherish
While we have established that breaking things is fun, collecting enough resources to make all the vaccines by only smashing stuff would be time-consuming and boring. But that’s alright, because the game isn’t meant to be beaten in one sitting. The machines are there to keep generating resources so you can do other things. And there are lots of other things to do which can speed up your quest for the cure.
For instance, there is a character you can interact with who will give you 500,000 gold for 500 pills. In the beginning of the game this is a great deal, because you don’t need as many pills to make early level vaccines. Over time, pills become more valuable than vaccines. So while this character helps speed things up at first, it doesn’t completely break the game. There are lots of compelling trade options like this one. If you are playing the game actively and not just walking around breaking things, you can put your resources to work efficiently.
Also, destroying certain special objects within the game might reveal certain treasure objects. A purple tint surrounds these items, and you might even have to traverse a dungeon-like area to find them. Characters around the game world will trade significant rewards for these treasures. Tasks like this make My Zombie Wife actually feel like a video game, and not just an endless slog of mindless grinding, which it easily could have been.
You May Now Kiss the Bride
The game also incorporates a time mechanic. After every in-game day, the world resets and everything you destroyed respawns anew. If you are out late at night when the game resets, you will die. You can go to sleep and reset to a full day at any time to avoid this. But some places and people only appear at certain times of day, so it’s worth it to try and explore then.
At first glance, My Zombie Wife is just a fun side-scroller about smashing things. Even though that’s an enjoyable premise, it takes it a step further by adding enough complexity to keep things interesting and reward thoughtful and explorative players. It’s not especially profound or even immersive but hey, sometimes you just need to completely and utterly destroy a car. And this game understands that.
Is it Hardcore?
A game that’s equal parts easy to pick up and easy to put down, My Zombie Wife is a solid romp that indulges a primal need and works around your schedule.