Ed-0: Zombie Uprising - PC Review

Ed-0: Zombie Uprising by developer Lancarse and publisher D3PublisherPC (Steam) review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 6 minute
Have you ever thought "what would it be like to fight zombies as a samurai, sumo wrestler, or ninja while going through roguelite type stages"? Well, now you can find out with Ed-0: Zombie Uprising.

In Ed-0 a mysterious black ship has appeared in Japan, spilling forth zombies which infect and plague the land. You, a "zom-being", are tasked with getting rid of the zombies. Thankfully, you being a zom-being means that you resurrect when you die, although you do lose any items you've picked up as well as a large chunk of cash. And you need to restart the stage.

Ed-0 is a roguelite type 3D action style game, something you don't really see as often as the 2D variety. All the characters have the same basics to them, just with different specialties or moves available. There's a light attack, a heavy attack, a jump, a dodge, and a guard/parry. There are also special moves you can use as well as items you can throw. The basic idea is to progress through floors of zombies, hacking away at them, collecting items and stat boosting medicines, until you reach the end which will probably end in a boss fight.

You need to pay attention, as you also have a hunger gauge that will slowly deplete, and when it runs out you'll start losing health. In order to fight off your hunger, you need to eat food that you'll find along the way, whether that's rice balls, herbs, or meat. Alternatively, every time you finish a floor you do so by passing through a Torii Gate. Each gate will lead to an "intermission room" with something associated with the type of gate. For example, if you go through a Food Gate, there will be a food item awaiting you. Likewise, a recovery gate will give you some healing.

Now, why shouldn't you just rush through an area to get to the gates? Well, Here's where the roguelite elements come into play. First off, there are a bunch of items littered around the floors. Some of these are consumable, such as throwing knives or health herbs. Others act as equipment (charms), and you can't forget about the items that give you access to special skills (secret art scrolls). Equally important are the items that permanently increase your stats for the duration of your expedition. These are all randomized, just like the layout of the floor each time you enter one, and you start with nothing if you don't bring anything with you, so it's important to scavenge what you need while you're there.

First up let's talk a bit about charms. Charms are your equipment. You have a limited number of slots, some provide good effects and some are bad effects that you can throw at enemies to apply them to. Always nice to hit a hard-hitting boss with a charm that reduces strength. While most charms can be destroyed to equip others if you run out of space, there are cursed charms that can't be removed unless you use a special item to remove the curse.

Another type of randomized items I mentioned are the secret art scrolls. These scrolls will give you access to a special move which you can use while holding the guard/parry button and pressing one of the four associated action buttons. Secret arts can sometimes come with bonuses if you learn them, such as increasing strength or health, and getting a duplicate scroll will allow you to upgrade the move and select an additional perk.

So, what happens if you fail a run? Well, you get returned to the hub area. Don't worry though, as you've been killing zombies you've been collecting money and spirit! While you lose a large chunk of money on death, at least to begin with, you can use these resources to help make future runs a little easier. Spirit can be used to unlock slots that you can equip certain unlockable effects on, such as increasing spirit earned. Money can either be spent at the dojo to give permanent upgrades, such as attack and health increases, or spent at the store in order to bring certain items in with you.

As you go around hacking away at zombies, you will build up a ZEN gauge. When full you can slow down time in order to either attack enemies or run away. There are many different combinations of charms, perks, and secret arts to try out, so each run doesn't necessarily feel the same as the last. Couple this with the multiple characters you can get and the different environments and it keeps the game feeling a little bit fresher. Can you get screwed over by some bad RNG? For sure. I know I got brutalized a few times due to really bad spawn locations and item drops.

Ed-0 has a few different characters for you to unlock, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses that lean towards different types of playstyles. For example, compared to the samurai, the ninja has less health and deals less damage per hit in the combo, but starts with an extra jump, a glide, and has good aerial attacks. If you find yourself getting in a tedium, you should try swapping characters to make things a little different.

Oh, and did I mention you can assassinate enemies? Yeah, that's right, if you sneak up behind enemies you can assassinate them. I started getting some weird Tenchu vibes while playing as the ninja, but hey, it works really well. Different characters are better or worse suited to this, as I mentioned with the ninja comparison, and can lead to some extremely different playstyles and just how the game feels depending on who you want to use, so switch up often!

Now while Ed-0 is pretty fun, there are a few things to be aware of. Firstly, since it is a roguelite, luck does play a big factor, so if you aren't happy with random chance, be fully aware of what you're getting into. Second, while the areas are pretty neat and there is a decent variety of scenery, it can get frustrating if you get stuck in a narrow hallway with a lot of zombies on either side of you. You can also get combo'd pretty badly, flinched out of attacks, and ragdolled if you get hit hard enough. While normally this can be pretty amusing, sometimes it's really frustrating if you can barely do anything about it.

What you may also notice about Ed-0 is that the graphics feel a bit like they should probably be at home on an older generation console. While this may actually be a selling point for some, like myself, others may view it as a bit of a detriment. The game is much more focused on keeping the roguelite gameplay loop fun and fresh rather than updating the PS2 style graphics, but I think it lends to the sort of older era charm that Ed-0 has going for it.

Now, before I get into my conclusions and scoring, I'd like to be very transparent here that the full "out of Early Access" release feels a lot different than the Early Access version, so if you see any other reviews being harsh with Ed-0, please take into account that there have been some major improvements in both in-game instruction and tutorial, as well as how gameplay and progression function.

Overall, Ed-0: Zombie Uprising is really fun. Is it perfect? No, but it's a really fun sort of campy zombie slasher type of game. Ed-0 hits a lot of the checks for a decent roguelite game that isn't unbearably punishing but still offers options for those looking for a challenge. With a lot to keep the gameplay fresh in a 3D action fashion that you don't see very often, I'm sure Ed-0 Zombie uprising is sure to hit home with those who are interested. I for one certainly loved the combination of 3D action hack-and-slash type gameplay with the roguelite elements. So get out there and start mowing down some zombies!

Score: 8 / 10



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