The Boring Dead
Zombie games are old news by now. We’ve all got the been-there-done-that T-shirt, and it takes something a little bit special to make shooting zombies worth our time. Valley of the Dead: Malnazidos is not that game.
Coming from the PlayStation Talents program in Spain, it’s understandable that this is a very, very low-budget release, but I would still expect some kind of standards. After just an hour of play, I put down my controller and vowed to never look at the game again. It’s that bad.
Release Date: March 11th, 2022
Developer: Gammera Nest
Publisher: Gammera Nest
Availability: PSN, Steam
Set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, a zombie outbreak occurs for… reasons? There’s no reason given. There’s a quick comic-book style cutscene where Nazis shoot a bunch of people dead, and then the dead rise. And that’s it. Don’t expect much story from Valley of the Dead, at least none that makes a lick of sense.
You start the game playing as Jan, or as I like to call him, Spanish Nathan Drake – El Draco, if you will. He and his useless buddy, Cruz, happen upon half a zombie, kill it, and then move forward. Again, no real reason why, it just happens.
Within the first five minutes of Valley of the Dead, I knew it was a dud. The camera is wonky and has a tendency to shoot into the back of Jan when he’s being moved forward. It also has a tendency to direct itself up at the sky or down to the ground after aiming one of the game’s slow-firing and not fun to use weapons. It’s annoying, but that’s just the start.
The zombies aren’t menacing at all. For one, they barely look like zombies. The only giveaway that they are zombies is that they run like pillocks and they sound like cats getting their tails clamped.
Speaking of sound, the audio mix is awful. All of the game’s dialogue is in Spanish – it is set in Spain, after all – and that’s not a problem as there are English subtitles. The problem is that half of the time, you can barely hear the words being spoken because the music will suddenly increase in volume. It’s very jarring, though this can be solved by tinkering with the audio settings. Then again, the default audio should be the standard; when was the last time you had to tinker with audio settings?
Combat, the core mechanic of the game, is piss poor. Firing guns is slow and inaccurate, and half the time, my shots didn’t register, even with the reticule directly over the head of a zombie. Another time, I stood a short distance from a red exploding barrel, and it refused to blow. Then I fired a shot at another red barrel that was much further off, and it exploded with no problem. This is a standard video game trope – red barrels explode. How could the developers get this so wrong?
Melee combat isn’t any better, either. For no reason other than to force the game’s poor stealth upon you, the game takes away your main weapon – the pistol – at the start of the second chapter. The idea is that you’re supposed to sneak past the zombies to your objective. I found it easier to just run through them and kick them to death, though that took more effort than it should. It also didn’t help that zombie would get close and initiate a mini quick-time event where you need to press the triangle button at the right time to push the zombie away without taking damage. This got old very quickly, and one section of the game where I was holding out with a few comrades saw me constantly getting grabbed into these boring quick-time moments.
Eventually, I failed a mission. Not because I died, but because some useless NPC got chowed down by a zombie. Fine by me – I was happy for a reason to put the game down anyway. I had a look at the game’s chapter select menu to see how many chapters of pain I would have to go through to finish and… well, the chapters I had completed weren’t even numbered correctly. One. Six. Two. Seven.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4 (using PS5)
Summary - CrapSummary - Crap
- The premise is interesting, not much else
- The audio mix is atrocious
- Combat is not exciting at all
- The cel-shaded comic style doesn't hide the low production values