ZombiU is a Survival Horror game with First-Person Shooter elements developed by Ubisoft exclusively for the NintendoWii U, in late 2012. You play as a human trying to survive a Zombie Apocalypse in London, but with one big twist... when you die, you stay dead, and restart the game as a different survivor. The story is told through interaction with the handful of NPCs scattered throughout the game; mainly the mysterious man who guides you through the city and seems to know more about the events surrounding the zombie outbreak than he lets on.Originally thought to be yet another overused zombie-themed game that would be doomed as something very boring, Zombi U has taken many critics off-guard by its surprising gameplay and the actual shrill of horror due to the real time nature of the game. Since then, the game's polarizing reviews (ranging everywhere from an awful 4.3/10 to a stellar 9.3/10) have led to debate as to whether or not "real" survival horror games would be accepted by modern audiences, especially given how much of the criticism was leveled at old-school design choices like having a low emphasis on combat and having highly limited ammunition.
This game provides examples of:
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Sewers are used a quick-travel system. Justified, as London's sewers are pretty big in reality.
Action Bomb: Zombies wearing gas masks hooked up to air tanks fill this role. One can't help but wonder what's in the tank, given how the slightest touch of your cricket bat causes it to explode spectacularly.
Action Survivor: All the survivors. The game will even tell you what their job was, before the apocalypse. It's generally things like "street vendor" and "bus driver." No retired secret agents sitting on enough weaponry to blow up the moon. The closest thing to a conventional military character are ordinary soldiers (some of them actually a Four-Star Badass), but this doesn't affect gameplay.
Ancient Conspiracy: The plot turns out to be a lot more than simply staying alive in the overtaken city of London. The first Voice with an Internet Connection you encounter genuinely wants to help you and increase your chances of survival, but he's a member of an ancient benevolent cult of alchemists and scientists called the Ravens that had been aware of the danger of the outbreak and wanted to do what was possible to get the public ready. They just didn't listen, and a change in leadership within the British government happened at the worst possible time. The safe houses you save in belong to them, and you come across another member in Buckingham palace who asks you to help him with steps necessary for developing a cure, including tracking down ancient medical texts with key information in them.
And Then John Was a Zombie: What happens to your character when bitten. Problematic as weapons and equipment stay with them as they are a zombie, though when you switch to a new character you can track them down and steal your stuff back.
Apocalypse How: Class 3a in the making. Class 4 if you fail to develop the Panacea.
Arc Words: "How long will you survive" or permutations of survive.
Bag of Sharing: Painfully averted. Unless dropped off, equipment on one character stays with that character even after death/zombification, forcing the new character to track down their predecessor and loot their bag. May or may not be problematic depending on if the deceased character died to an entire horde.
Played straight with permanent upgrades (such as B.O.B. upgrades) and items essential to progress the game, as otherwise one wrong step could easily render the game Unwinnable.
Better to Die than Be Killed: Your character only becomes a zombie if s/he is killed by one. If you're low on health and want to avoid having to fight ZombiU to get your stuff back, blowing yourself up or jumping off of a ledge can be the best move.
Though not for online players; dead survivors don't show up, while zombified ones do.
Big Word Shout: "GET THE HELL OUT OF MY SAFEHOOOOOOOOUUUUUSSSSSEEEE!!!"
Boring, but Practical: The starting Pistol. You cannot put it in the storage crate, but two headshots from it is enough to kill a zombie. Ammo for Pistols is easier to find than the other types of ammo.
The Crossbow is easily the most resourceful weapon you'll have aside from the Cricket Bat. Sadly, you'll likely be able to take on one zombie at a time still.
But Thou Must: Even with foresight when it comes to The Arena, a trap, you still need to "Save the Girl" to advance the plotline and have Dr. Knight develop the Panacea. Think of it this way: Your mission turns into "Confront King Boris and put an end to his mad games. At least then, you'll stop him from kidnapping any future survivors!
Cast of Snowflakes: The first three characters are the same that you always set out with. After that you get random people with different looks that the developers say will ensure that you don't get the same person twice.
Continuing Is Painful: Upon dying, not only does your new character have to track down his/her items, but that new character will have none of the improved skills that the old one had and will have to be trained up again. It's even possible to wake up with a new character right when the zombies decide to attack the safehouse! Your only saving grace in this case is that the Prepper drops off the basic supply kit with the Cricket Bat. Get swinging...
Decoy Protagonist: Constantly invoked. But it can also be averted if one tries hard enough.
Development Gag: The original "Killer Rabbids/Freaks From Outer Space" idea (mentioned below) is referenced in the supermarket area. Stuffed animals of the enemies from the original idea are found on some of the store shelves.
Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: King Boris makes an offhanded remark over the PA that he construes as a hint to defeating the first few rounds of zombies in the Arena. If he didn't mutter to himself about his mistake, most players probably wouldn't interpret it as a hint at first.
King Boris: Now, let's blow some shit up, shall we? ...Oh, bother. It's a clue, isn't it? Me and my big mouth.
Subverted with the second hint he gives you, but the way he delivers it is not as subtle as he thinks.
King Boris: Shall we give him another hint, Sherra? How about your place or MINE!!!? It's your life, but if it were MINE!!!, I would set a few traps of MINE!!! own. Muwahahahaha!
Early Game Hell: You don't start off with an automatic sensor, and your skills are set to zero, so killing zombies with bullets isn't as easy until you do it frequently enough.
Emergency Weapon: Each character starts out with the world's toughest cricket bat, which never breaks or needs to be repaired. Your character swings it slowly, and it takes 3-4 whacks to kill a zombie if you don't take the effort to whack them in the head, so obviously you don't want to be stuck using it against a room full of zombies.
Evolving Attack: Reuse attacks, weaponry and shots and that character, and only that character, gets better with them.
Final Death: The main twist of the game. When your Player Character dies, he or she becomes a zombie and the player takes control of a different character. If that character dies, you take control of a new character and return to your current mission. However, you lose any equipment and upgrades your prior survivor had...until you kill them again, of course.
Taken to the extreme in the game's ending sequence. You get one shot at reaching the tower and escaping via helicopter. Fail, and you get stuck with the worst possible ending. To add insult to injury, the save file for the game is disabled immediately upon success or failure, and the only way to try again is to restart the game from the very beginning. Hope you brought enough weapons and healing items!
Government Conspiracy: The Ravens mentioned above have worked closely with the royal family for centuries.
Foreshadowing: At one point, the Prepper mentions how Dee predicted that only "black angels" would be able to end the plague; Sondra believed that it meant the Ravens of Dee, while the Prepper belives something more sinister; it's never brought up again. Until the final cutscene shows RAF bombers silhouetted in black against the red sky, on their way to destroy London.
Heavily Armored Mook: Riot Zombies wear helmets and armor that make them invulnerable to everything but explosives. You can, however, knock off the helmet to get to the squishy bits underneath.
Hoist by His Own Petard: King Boris and the gang of people who force survivors to go through the 'Arena', an extremely deadly gauntlet of zombies requiring them to place deadly mines while being chased and have absolutely barely any breathing room throughout the whole ordeal... end up alerting a ton of zombies to their location, as they've been jeering at your attempts to survive the Arena the whole time via VERY LOUD MICROPHONE. Hearing them get eaten by Zombies is music to your ears.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Averted. When your character first wields each type of weapon, they'll be horribly inaccurate and have difficulty hitting targets at any range. The longer you use them, though, the better your character gets.
Multiple Endings: Depending upon whether or not you successfully reach the helicopter in game's final moments.
Nintendo Hard: Many first-time players are surprised to find themselves dying during the tutorial. After you wake up as a new character during said tutorial, the first thing you'll see is a warning from the developer: "Heads up, this is survival horror."
Noob: One can be identified by an empty zombie survivor, with 0 points to boot.
Overshadowed by Practical: The Silenced Pistol doesn't get much use, because the default Pistol cannot be removed, so using the Silenced Pistol just occupies one more spot in your inventory. It does come fully loaded when you first come across it though, so there's fifteen bullets to use for Pistol skills.
Peninsula of Power Leveling: Many of the "death" zones when playing through a level for the first time can become this when returning there (such as Brick Lane Markets' alarm door, the Tower of London, and Baconfields just outside the entry zone) due to the higher probability of zombified survivors.
Schizophrenic Difficulty: Some areas have their zombie numbers influenced by how many players have died there - no, not just you, players from around the world. This results in some areas having some free goodies curtesy of an unfortunate soul, or constant empty zombies in the same place every time you visit there.
Sensor Suspense: The scanner function of the Prepper Pad (it's manual at first, but it becomes upgraded to be automatic later on). Not helped by the fact that it doesn't detect idle zombies (that could be mistaken for corpses) and the fact that it counts pointless animals in the mix.
Shaggy Dog Story: The quest line where you go to the nursery to get antibiotics trade for gas ends with the guy you're trading with turning into a zombie while you're away.
Shmuck Bait: Oh, why don't you just come over to this Church, we've got LOADS of guns and supplies and candy and unicorns...
Soundtrack Dissonance: The first trailer has "God Save the Queen" playing in the background to scenes of death and chaos.
Cheery carnival music plays in The Arena, a level where many players die over and over, and even the most experienced players fear for the worst if they ever screw up.
Story Bread Crumbs: Newspapers, Documents, and The Dee Letters give out much of the story exposition, as well as some tidbits that can't otherwise be known. Such as The Prepper's real name, John Wright, and his discharge from his service.
The Reptilians: The Prepper seriously believes that the Queen is one of them.
Unwinnable by Mistake: So common (there are at least five places this can occur in) that one can't help but wonder about Ubisoft's play-testing. If you're lucky, you merely have to reload your save; more serious cases may require you to restart the game from scratch.
Unstable Equilibrium: Survive longer with the same character and that character has a better chance of surviving longer. And survive longer with the same character and...
As mentioned above, more difficult areas cause more deaths, which directly raise zombie numbers in said area, which in turn increase the difficulty.
Villainous Breakdown: While not a villain, The Prepper doesn't take the player trying to escape at the end with the Ravens Of Dee and the panacea very well.
The Prepper: Oh. I see how it is! You’re all bloody plotting and conspiring behind my back! The Doctor, the Ravens… You know what, fine! Try to save yourself! Die in the fire, for all I care! You’re no survivor, like me! None of you are! You’re nothing to me! Go on, go! Get out! You people are no better than the plague! I gave you shelter, weapons, equipment… I taught you how to survive! You’d be dead without me! And this is how you repay me? You needed me! Oh, you’re all grown up now, strutting off on wild goose chases all by yourself, sticking your neck out…but just remember where I found you! I should have let the Safe House burn, just like the whole of London will! Just like John Dee foretold! No bloody gratitude, that’s the problem with people like you! You just take, take, take, like a selfish child! It’s no wonder the country’s gone to the dogs, is it? Well don’t you worry, because I’ll have the last laugh! I will outlive you all! I thought we were partners! I trusted you, gave you skills and knowledge! I should fucking kill you myself!GET THE HELL OUT OF MY SAFEHOUSE!
Wreaking Havok: Zombies get knocked back a few feet when hit with the cricket bat; things get strange if there's an immovable object (aside from walls) behind them.