Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / ZombiU

Go To
How long will U survive?

ZombiU is a Survival Horror game with First-Person Shooter elements developed by Ubisoft exclusively for the Wii U, released as a launch title for said console in November 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 previous mission as a new survivor without any of the skills learned or items acquired previously. The story is told through interaction with the handful of Non Player Characters 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 expected to be a fairly generic zombie game, ZombiU was maybe the first attempt in years by a non-indie developer to resurrect the classic Survival Horror game, then regarded as a dead genre with virtually every horror game having tons of action or none at all. The game's mixed reviews and poor sales (resulting in the planned sequel being canned) led to debate over the viability of the genre in the modern era, until Resident Evil 7: Biohazard put the question firmly to rest.

While the game shares elements with one of Ubisoft's first games, the 1986 PC title Zombi, it is not a reboot. The game received a port to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows via Steam as Zombi.

This game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Sewers are used as 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.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: There's a level like this. Yes, the zombies can come after you in there.
  • 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.
  • Always Night: No matter where you are or how long you've been playing, it's always dark outside. The closest you get to any daylight is when you're trying to find fuel for the safehouse generator, since it appears to be dawn in the area you have to explore.
  • 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.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Sub-machine Guns and the Magnum Pistol. Ammo is very hard to find for those weapons; it's common to finish the game having found less than 10 rounds of magnum ammo and less than 40-50 rounds of submachine gun ammo, even if you go out of your way to fully explore all maps for ammo.
  • 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 (with the exception of the Panacea), as otherwise one wrong step could easily render the game Unwinnable.
  • Batter Up!: Your basic weapon is a cricket bat. The Xbox One and PS4 ports also include a shovel and a baseball bat with nails, and are much more effective than the cricket bat. note 
  • 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.
    • In the trailer, a business man is seen shooting himself while the office he's in is being attacked by zombies. What makes this tragic is that the bullet misses his brain, his zombification is imminent.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: London's real life, city-wide CCTV system plays a key role in the game's plot, as the means by which the Prepper tracks you throughout your entire journey. Dee's Black Prophecy even warns of "the Beast with a thousand eyes" seemingly in reference to this.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Headshots are always guaranteed to immediately kill a zombie. However, it varies with what weapon and mode you're playing on. On Chicken mode, even the silenced pistol, which is weaker than the starter pistol, can headshot a zombie. But on Normal and Survival mode, it usually requires two shots from your starting pistol to the head to down a zombie.
  • 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.
    • You can also find a silenced Pistol early on. It's weaker than the starting Pistol, but (as the name suggests) has an attached silencer that makes it ideal for taking out unalerted zombies one by one from a distance.
    • 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.
    • Flares only emit a temporary light when thrown, but they're invaluable for diverting a horde's attention and gathering them in one place. From there, you can either escape or follow up with a Molotov/Grenade/Mine to take out multiple zombies at once.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: The Alma/Sadako-like teleporting female zombies seem to be this, as there are only about 3 or 4 of them in the entire game and they're a lot tougher to take down than a regular zombie. In one of the final missions you fight a Dual Boss battle against 2 of them at once.
  • 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. There are patterns of archetypes of characters from that point forward (so if your previous character died and you loaded up a new one, but decided to restart, you'll end up with a similar character type) but faces will be randomized in addition to names and professions.
  • Combat Medic: The Dee Letters reveal that the 17th century Plague Doctors were secretly sent into infected towns and villages to battle the zombies and contain the Blight under the guise of treating bubonic plague infections. Given that the modern day British military were wiped out despite having access to guns and explosives, it's pretty impressive that the plague doctors were able to keep things under control with just swords and poison blades.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The Prepper has a lot to say about the government's role in keeping the public ignorant about John Dee's prophecy and the zombie outbreak it foretold. He also claims that the Queen is a Reptilian, though he may have been joking about that one (as he doesn't seem to hold her responsible for what happened).
  • Continuing is Painful: Upon dying, not only does your new character have to track down their items, but they will have none of the improved skills that the previous one had and will have to be trained up again; your only saving grace (in this case) is that the Prepper drops off the basic supply kit with the Cricket Bat. The only thing the new character carries over (thanks to the auto-save function), however, is the mission and storyline progresses, since the previous one did their own advancements before dying/zombifying.
  • Critical Hit: Melee weapons randomly do bonus damage against regular zombies, enough to sometimes one-hit-kill them with a whack to the head, especially if using the shovel or nailed bat. This doesn't work on any of the special zombie types, though.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Constantly invoked. But it can also be averted if one tries hard enough.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In the Tower of London, after you've cleared all the zombies on the roof and the helicopter is about to pick you up, the crows, which had remained calm through all the fighting and gunfire, suddenly fly straight for the helicopter's rotor, downing it instantly. It's as if they were saying "Nooo! It's too soon to reach the ending!".
  • 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, Sarah? 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!
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The crossbow is this. It doesn't make any noise, kills regular zombies with one headshot, and the bolts will never break as long as they hit an enemy, allowing you to keep re-using them as long as you always retrieve them from the zombie you just shot. However, the bolts will immediately break if you miss a zombie and hit the wall/floor instead (which can often happen if you try to headshot a moving enemy), and you only find a total of about a dozen or so bolts throughout the entire game. It also needs to be reloaded after each shot.
  • 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 very easy until you do it frequently enough.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The easiest difficulty is called "Chicken." Your score in this difficulty is not registered in the leaderboards.
  • Elite Zombie: You have riot zombies that have body armor and helmets that need to be knocked off before they can be killed, screamer zombies that summon infinite reinforcements, spitter zombies that have a ranged projectile attack, red zombies that always run and can kill you in 2 hits, and gas tank zombies that explode instantly when hit, killing you if you're standing near them. All special zombies other than the gas tank guys have more health than regular zombies, with the red zombies being especially tough.
  • 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. The default pistol can be considered this compared to other firearms, as like the cricket bat, it cannot be stored away in the drop box or dropped at all, and its ammo is more common than other gun types.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: The Prepper Pad can detect nearby zombiesnote . An upgrade halfway through the game lets the Prepper Pad automatically detect zombies, rather than having to repeatedly activate the radar manually. The only exception are the teleporting zombies, which emit some sort of electrical energy that jams the pad.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Boris and his gang sic zombies on survivors they kidnap and relish in their struggle. However, a group of zombies break free from containment and proceed to tear the kidnappers apart thanks to the light and music.
  • Evolving Attack: Reuse attacks, weaponry and shots and that character, and only that character, gets better with them.
  • Executive Ball Clicker: In the E3 2012 trailer, we see that a businessman who Ate His Gun has a ball cradle on his desk, among other things.
  • 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.
  • Free-Sample Plot Coupon: The first Dee letter is given to you by Dr. Knight, who asks you to deliver all seven to him.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: There are times when plot-critical items (such as the fuel for the generator at Vikram's gas station) simply don't spawn, which can prevent you from progressing and force a complete restart of the campaign. Fortunately, fully completing some "main" quests (such as restarting the saferoom generator) actually isn't required to progress the game and can be ignored after a certain point (usually once the next quest in the chain is triggered towards the end of the previous quest).
  • Get Out!: 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!
  • Going Down with the Ship: At the end of the game, with a city-annihilating firebombing only minutes away, Prepper nonetheless opts to remain behind in his bunker and continue giving guidance to survivors (for the few minutes any of them have left) rather than make any attempt to flee the city. Granted, this is due to his pride and paranoia in refusing to work with the Ravens, and even if he had been willing to put all that aside, with his prosthetic leg, he probably would not have been able to get to the last evac chopper in time.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Ravens mentioned above have worked closely with the royal family for centuries.
  • Hand Cannon: You can find a magnum pistol in a locked shed near the nursery. It does high damage (about as much as a shotgun, enough to decapitate almost any zombie with one headshot), but ammo is almost impossible to find for it.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Mime: Likely to accommodate for the fact that you change characters whenever you die, the player never talks. The closest you'll get to "dialog" from him/her is grunting (whenever you hit a zombie with your melee weapon or step on their heads) and heavy breathing.
  • Hollywood Silencer: There are two weapons in the game equipped with silencers, a Sig Sauer P226 Pistol and a Heckler & Koch MP5SD3. No zombie will be alerted of your presence when firing these particular guns no matter how close you are to them.
  • 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.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: Many of the zombies wear a varying assortment of outfits, which actually helps distinguish the standard zombies from the more elite zombies. Standard zombies include those dressed as British royal guards, Beefeaters, a few in police riot armor, and some wearing gas masks with air tanks on their backs. Elite zombies include the screaming zombies (who dress like a '70s rock stars), the spitting zombies (who wear unbuckled straight jackets), and the teleporting zombies (who dress like nurses). The royal guards and nurses could be justified though; the former were implied to have gotten infected while still on the job and the latter may have come from the nursery who the Prepper claims got overrun with zombies.
  • Interface Spoiler: One of the achievements is called Betrayed! Survive the Ambush at the Church. Looks like that distress call really is a trap.
  • Item Farming: Searching constantly for CCTV-located supplies and Fallen Survivors between each objective. It's very helpful.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The rare red zombies always run, hit a lot harder than the regular zombies (enough to kill you in just 1 or 2 hits), and can survive a lot more damage than regular zombies.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: This teaser trailer begins with an image of a man trying to save an unlucky victim, who is missing one of her high heels. (Sadly, it's likely to be the least of her concerns.)
  • Magic Antidote: Averted with the Panacea. Dr. Knight specifically mentions that it turns out to be a vaccine, not a cure. Which is why he unfortunately can't use it to prevent himself from turning into a zombie.
  • Masochist's Meal: You can eat a freshly killed rat or crow to restore a small amount of health; however, this is not healthy food and has an equal chance of causing you to lose some health instead of restoring it.
  • Metroidvania: Has elements of this; the game world consists of a number of maps linked together by transition doors, and as the game progresses you'll acquire tools (lockpicks, C4, a cryptograph reader, and a keycard reader hacking device) to open up new pathways in previously explored areas. At the same time, the progression design is a lot simpler than most Metroidvania titles; most tools only open up 1 new story-critical path, and a bunch of small rooms that contain bonus items or weapons.
  • Mission Control: The Prepper.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Your mentor The Prepper sees himself as your partner, though in truth he's more of The Neidermeyer, as it's not his ass on the line against the zombie hordes. He's holed up in a nice secure bunker, with months to years of food and supplies, while you're scraping by fighting to see another day in the ruins of London.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending upon whether or not you successfully reach the helicopter in game's final moments.
  • Nightmarish Nursery: At one point, the player explores a zombie-infested nursery in search of medicine of Vikram's ill wife. As they investigate, they find an s.o.s. recorded by the manager, Gillian, about helping the children get to the basement in hopes of protecting them. Unfortunately, a look at said basement reveals that Gilliam became a zombie and ate all the children.
  • 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."
  • No-Gear Level: After being captured by King Boris and his goons, you're stripped of all your equipment and thrown into Boris' Arena, where you're forced to fight against waves of zombies (most of which are Armored Zombies) with only a pistol with a few bullets, not anywhere nearly enough to kill all the zombies that get thrown at you. Winning requires you to make smart use of explosives. Fortunately, you can find all your stuff in a crate after beating the Arena.
  • Noob: One can be identified by an empty zombie survivor, with 0 points to boot.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Characters take massive damage from falling. Oh, and there's no regenerating health.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: The nursery has this.
  • One-Gender Race: Not really "race", but the Armored, Spitting, Explosive, and Screamer zombies are all male, while the Teleporting zombies are all female.
  • One-Hit Kill: While you can survive multiple melee attacks from zombies, one bite is all it takes for them to kill you. On the plus side, zombies won't try to bite you if you're at full health, and if you're carrying a virucide shot, it'll let you escape from one bite attack at the cost of using up the shot on the zombie trying to bite you.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Type P: Plague Zombie.
  • 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.
  • Permadeath: 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.
    • And once you've beaten the game, you get access to Survival Mode, where you can only play a single survivor.
    • 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!
  • Permanently Missable Content: Because of the way the game's physics work, attacking a body may sometimes cause it to clip through the floor and disappear from the game world. If this happens to one of the 6 bodies containing one of the Letters of Dee, you'll be unable to make the Panacea and get the best ending. So, never attack a body that carries a letter; all 6 of them are dead for real and won't get up to attack you.
  • Piñata Enemy: Fallen Survivors found Online.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Prepper, and not just because of the prophecy.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: All the zombies have red eyes with amber colored irises.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: While the amount of items/ammo in the game is not absolutely fixed since very small amounts will randomly drop from killed enemies, overall the number of healing items and bullets is quite scarce and needs to be conservednote . At the same time, those bullets and healing items won't do you any good if you're dead, especially on the one-life-only Survival Mode, so you do need to know when to use them to get out of a sticky situation. You also need to deal with limited inventory space as well as limited storage space back at the safehouse.
  • Respawning Enemies: Each map area is periodically repopulated with zombies as the game progresses. This generally doesn't happen infinitely or every time you visit an area, but rather only after each new major mission objective is received.
  • 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...
  • Soft Water: Averted. A fall of about 10 feet or so will kill you even if you land in water. This is most obvious in the pier area just outside the Tower of London.
  • 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 provide much of the story exposition, as well as some tidbits that can't otherwise be discovered. Such as The Prepper's real name, John Wright, and his discharge from his service.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: With at least three puns in the title. "Zombie" rhymes with "Wii", "U" can become a "Zombi", and the game is published by Ubisoft.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: Averted, the flashlight lasts a good 10 minutes, but it takes a minute or so to recharge.
  • Tragic Monster: When you meet up with Vikram a second time, he'll have zombified enough to be eating his own son, but still has enough humanity to beg you to kill them even as he attacks you.
  • Reptilian Conspiracy: The Prepper seems to seriously believe that the Queen is one of them —though he may be pulling your leg with that one.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay:
    • Zombies are attracted by your light and the sound of gunshots, so be careful when trying to avoid them in groups.
    • Zombies can still attack you when you are checking your inventory, since it's done in real time.
    • Speaking of which, because your inventory is all inside a backpack, checking your inventory means that the player has to remove said backpack and set it down in order to properly obtain items. Additionally, whenever you enter a steep body of water, the player has to hold the backpack over their head to keep it from getting wet and potentially damaged. Both these factors thus make you even more vulnerable.
    • You can fall about 5-6 feet without any harm, but a fall of over a dozen feet or so will straight out kill you.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: 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.
  • Unique Enemy: The screamer zombies are remarkably rare, and you'll encounter only a handful of them throughout the entire game. Even the red zombies and teleporting zombies, which are the game's Boss in Mook's Clothing enemies, are more common.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Zombie Gait: Semi-averted; with the exception of the ones that teleport and are on fire, the zombies don't run but they still move rather quickly. It's balanced out by survivors themselves being sluggish in the stamina department.

Alternative Title(s): Zombi 2012, Zombi 2015