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Literature / Blood of the Zombies

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Written by Ian Livingstone in late-2012 to celebrate the 30th Anniversary Milestone of the Cult-Favorite Gamebooks franchise Fighting Fantasy, Blood of the Zombies is a spiritual successor to House of Hell written by Fighting Fantasy co-creator and best-friend Steve Jackson in 1984. Received a simultaneous iOS adptation by the Australian Mobile Game Company, Tin Man Games.

And just like House of Hell, it is set on Modern Day Earth rather than Titan, starring you as an Everyman hero.

You are a mythology major of Bolingbroke College travelling across Europe, writing a thesis on legendary monsters. Having no luck in finding an hint of even Dracula in Transylvania, you happened upon a bar in a dreary little village where you made the mistake of sharing your story with two shady men.

Before you can say "snap crackle and pop" you are kidnapped and thrown into the dungeons of Goraya Castle, the home of Mad Scientist eurotrash psycho Gingrich Yurr, awaiting transformation into a zombie to join his growing legion of the undead.

Not if you have anything to say about it!! Strangling your captor unconscious, you now must escape Goraya Castle and slay each and every last ghoul shambling within; for if you leave even ONE alive, a tide of moaning zombies will consume the world.

And do take care to not get any of their blood into your wounds...

Blood of the Zombies provides examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Where you will encounter mutant rats (which, apparently, aren't zombies).
  • Badass Bookworm: Your character is a Mythology Major doing research on monsters across Europe.
  • Big Bad: Gingrich Yurr, zombie-obsessed Mad Scientist and master of Goraya Castle, is your main antagonist nurturing a whole army of zombies in his castle. He also serves as the Final Boss and last Zombie you have to fight after he infects himself. Unlike many other examples in the series, he's a Flat Character at best.
  • Body Horror: The infection utterly transforms the victim into a grotesque, half-rotten zombie in mere seconds.
  • Chainsaw Good: Averted; not only will the chainsaw reduce your precious stamina by 1 just for carrying it (because it is so darned heavy), it is weaker than the Shotgun/Machine-Gun that you have picked up by then. And it's only use in the narrative is to chop through a door locked by a frightened girl with a pistol, which ends as realistically well for you as it sounds. Furthermore, its original owner is a she-Zombie who sneak-attacks you with it.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Make sure you draw a map and keep count of ALL the zombies you fight/kill and explore each and every nook and cranny you did not explore in the last playthrough. This is the only way you can eventually have the Happy True Ending. You have to count every zombie you killed and turn to that page. There are 333.
  • The Everyman: You are just a college kid trying to write a thesis; now charged with saving the world. In a way, you start out like the guy does in House of Hell, but the big difference is, in the previous book, acting like the typical gung-ho fantasy hero like other Fighting Fantasy books was the wrong way to do it and would just get you killed. In this book, you kind of have to adopt that kind of attitude to survive.
  • Fan Disservice: A couple of illustration have female zombies wearing clothes that, if it weren't for the rotting flesh and dangling organs, would make them really attractive.
  • Final Girl: Amy, the beautiful teenage cook who you will rescue later on.
  • Fisticuffs Boss: The final confrontation with Yurr in the right path has you and him fighting barehanded.
  • Gatling Good: You get to commandeer a Browning .45 Machine Gun Platform in the climatic battle, just like Sylvester Stallone in Rambo.
  • Giant Mook: Yurr's favorite Zombie, bearing the cringe-worthy name of Zombie Kong, who needs a roll of 20 or higher from you and Amy to bite the dust and deals 6 points of damage if you fail to kill him. There's also a huge zombie who attacks you from the attic's roof.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: EVERY SINGLE LAST one of the zombies must be killed by the end of the book; leave even one surviving and you'll fast forward straight to the Bad End even if your character makes it out of the castle alive.
  • Haunted Castle: The gothic setting of our little yarn.
  • Mad Scientist: Gingrich Yurr, Large Ham Eurotrash Big Bad extraordinaire who wants to turn everyone on the planet (himself included) into zombies.
  • The Many Deaths of You: The iPhone version is doubly nasty in that when you are finally defeated in combat upon being reduced to Zero Stamina, you are treated to a graphic account of being swarmed, overwhelmed and torn to bits and/or infected by the zombies. Not pleasant at all.
  • Nerves of Steel: Should you reach the Happy True Ending, not only is your university-student character not traumatized and scarred-for-life by his or her ordeal, but is still mentally stable enough to write a thesis about the monsters he/she fought that allows him/her to graduate with honors from Bolingbroke College!!
  • Nintendo Hard: The combat in Blood of the Zombies is punishingly hard and brutal; forcing you to ration your grenades as opposed to throwing them recklessly and use actual tactics to conserve your rarely-regained stamina. Plus, not even ONE Zombie can survive if you want a happy Good End, so map drawing is an absolute must.
  • Non-Human Undead: Besides the standard zombie, you can also fight zombified mice and dogs. Which sadly doesn't count into your final kill-taly.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: In sharp contrast to the rest of the series, all the zombies you encounter only have 1 Stamina point, allowing you to mow them down easily enough... except that, more often than not, they appear in large numbers and you lose 1 Stamina point per round for each Zombie still moving after your attack. The sole exceptions are Zombie Kong (who takes a roll of 20 from the combined efforts of yours and Amy's gunfire) and Gingrich Yurr, who has a stamina of 7.
  • One-Man Army: By the end of your quest, your single-handed zombie kill-count will number in the hundreds.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Created through virus-infected blood harvested from voodoo zombies in the Carribean. While they're mostly feral and shambling, a few of them seems still capable of mangled speech and strategy, at one point they even turn to watch their master Yurr as he transforms himself into a Zombie. The latter seems capable of operating weapons, but cannot drive very well, showing that he retained some personality.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Boris and Gregor serves Yurr, but aren't fanatically devoted to him and, when you stumble on them, they're happy to let you go and sell you items and information before letting you go on your quest. Too bad the latter dies and the former, after trying to escape, is turned into one of the zombies.
  • Rapid-Fire Name Guessing: When meeting Amy for the first time, if you haven't read her letter to find out her name, you can randomly guess between "Amelia", "Amanda" or "Amy". Take too many wrong guesses and she will shoot you on the spot.
  • Senseless Violins: Which conceal the ever awesome Tommy Gun!!
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: It wouldn't be a trashy zombie-flick homage without your trusty boomstick.
  • Spiritual Successor: And "companion piece" to Steve Jackson's House of Hell; it's recommended to read both back to back for an atmospheric horror adventure night!
  • Survival Horror: Stamina is rarely replenished, forcing you to ration healing resources and choose with tactical thinking when or when not to throw your precious grenades.
  • Tempting Fate: Researching for your thesis on monsters in Transylvania; What Could Possibly Go Wrong??
  • Took a Level in Badass: You gradually transforms from a resourceful bookworm into a one-man / one-woman zombie-killing machine. Lampshaded by the narrative in the middle of the book.
    You are faced with five zombies; which should be no trouble at all for a veteran undead hunter like you!!
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In the happy ending, the policemen who investigated what's left of Goraya Castle see plenty of proofs of Yurr's maddened experiments, but still decides to keep everything a secret and just put you on a cab headed for the airport with not as much as a "thank you".
  • The Virus: Transmitted through the Zombies' blood.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Bad End if you survive the castle without killing every single last zombie.
  • Zombie Infectee: If you get any of the zombie's blood into your wounds, you will become one. Handling a zombie-blood-covered book right after a fierce battle without rubber gloves? Your funeral.