Ed-0: Zombie Uprising Review: An Action-Roguelite Diamond in the Rough

Ed-0: Zombie Uprising Review: An Action-Roguelite Diamond in the Rough.

Despite its numerous issues, Ed-0: Zombie Uprising possesses an undeniable magic. Prolific Japanese developer Lancarse kept this janky new action-roguelite cooking in the Early Access oven since last April, wearing down its roughest edges into this fully-fledged v1.0 release. What’s emerged is a gem, albeit one which demands patience for its most glaring issues and a weakness for the goofy translations, ragdoll nonsense, and conspicuous lack of polish throughout.

Ed-0: Zombie Uprising’s basic mechanics are like a lightning-fast version of a Soulsborne game, though its main quests are found in instanced levels rather than an expansive world map. Players select from a samurai, sumo wrestler, and ninja hero, all of whom expectedly play and move quite differently from one another. Missions are unlocked one at a time and contain a set of dungeon floors in a variety of biomes which are randomly generated at the start of each new attempt. Controls are snappy and responsive, though it will take time to grow accustomed to cooldowns, attack windups, and the game’s frantically touchy jump physics.

Panic-Filled Procedural Generation

In typical action-roguelite fashion, Ed-0: Zombie Uprising is built to kill, and individual runs can go from zero to 100 in mere seconds. At first, carefully picking through each dungeon floor seems like the smartest approach, especially when looking for pills, a permanent upgrade drop which remains one of the most vital boosts to seek out in each map. However, a pressing hunger/health mechanic dictates that the more time spent without food, the greater the risk, and it’s sometimes best to hustle through and leave a few dozen zombies in peace.

Moving from one floor to the next means finding one of Ed-0: Zombie Uprising’s Torii gates, with different colored gates leading to food, items, equippable charms, and Secret Arts, the latter being the most important component of a given character build. Secret Arts are essentially special attacks equipped to the four face buttons, with a range of different effects available depending on the chosen character. They are free to use but dependent on cooldowns, delivering sword combos, projectiles, magic spells, and other effects, and normally cause the majority of damage output. Any duplicate Secret Arts found can be used to upgrade or replace equipped abilities, so they’re a crucial reward which can turn a given run on dime.

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

Understanding of combat timing is paramount, especially with how Ed-0: Zombie Uprising’s undead hordes love to interrupt attacks or clip players out of the air, resulting in an excruciatingly slow ragdoll tumble to the floor and plenty of cheap hits. Similarly, explosions send characters flying with hilarious abandon and buckets of blood…the only part that isn’t funny is how quickly these slapstick shenanigans can end a playthrough.

The game can be frustrating to a fault, especially after creeping through dungeons for an hour and being surprised by an enemy clipped through the wall or rushing a freshly opened door. One enemy type looks just like Sadako from The Ring, and her shriek turns every nearby shambler into an angry sprinter right out of 28 Days Later. The references in Ed-0: Zombie Uprising come hard and fast, and the first time encountering special zombies is always good for a frantic and confused Benny Hill-styled chase.

As with any good roguelite, early confusion eventually develops into confident mastery, though that dynamic is compromised here on two points: item diversity and glitches. For the former, Ed-0: Zombie Uprising’s roster of charms, talismans, Secret Arts and single-use weapons seem initially daunting, but the full list of drops is quite limited for a roguelite, and it’s easy to see the majority of them in the first five hours of play. Sure, the rarest charms appear very infrequently, but some thrill of discovery is lost after picking up the same gear for the hundredth time. Additionally, there’s no gated gear to unlock over multiple playthroughs, though a few select items mostly appear in later quests.

Glitches and Gore

As for the glitches, they are absolutely legion in Ed-0: Zombie Uprising. Sometimes enemies spawn in walls and can casually smack the player for massive damage when passing through a doorway. Stealth kills are a great way to dispatch zombies and afford temporary invincibility, but sometimes a zombie will cut right through the i-frames regardless. Some Secret Art upgrade attributes don’t appear to function as intended, and bomb-throwing zombies can preempt a player even without line of sight. Hit-box tomfoolery runs rampant and enemies devour the longest of health bars, though a few permanent upgrade mulligans can increase the chance of success.

Contending with Ed-0: Zombie Uprising means accepting these roughest elements to a degree, but that perseverance is ultimately worth it. The best way to counter the game’s glitches or clumsiness is to play it safe, use the map radar judiciously, learn attack timing and distance, and hope for the best from the RNG. It might not be the most encouraging advice, but it’s mentioned because this bizarre title hides treasures for those willing to endure its faults.

Diverse Gameplay and Clever Quests

Consider how each individual quest contains numerous gameplay surprises. The first one focuses on some drab forest biomes, but later levels include multi-level palaces, windswept cliffs and caves, massive villages teeming with hundreds of zombies, or pitch-black nighttime farms threatened by dangerous lightning strikes. Players might be asked to protect a bridge from a zombie onslaught, hunt through rooms for a screaming boss defended by their hordes, or chase a rifle-toting plague doctor riding a jetpack through a sunny field. Ed-0: Zombie Uprising might lack item diversity, but each quest area introduces unique environments, boss encounters, and special enemies to make the trip worthwhile.

If anything, Ed-0: Zombie Uprising sags during its longer quests, especially anything surpassing ten floors. At that point, completion usually requires an hour-plus investment, which is a bit too much all at once without a break. At least progress can be saved and paused in between floors, but the game works best in the 30-to-45-minute zone, which makes run-ending disasters like the occasional bug less of an excruciating interruption.

Screen Rant’s Review Score & Conclusion

Whether Ed-0: Zombie Uprising is right for someone will largely depend on their threshold for jank and clumsy design. The new v1.0 release, while feature-rich, could also be further improved with a little more bug-cleansing, items, and side quests, and some placeholder text in the UI seems to imply that additional updates are forthcoming. It’s not going to make or break it for anyone still on the fence at this time, but a little more variety and chaos in character builds would do wonders to soften the game’s clunkier content. Regardless, what’s available is a truly one-of-a-kind, uber-violent, irreverent and addicting treat, so let this remain as a confident recommendation of Ed-0: Zombie Uprising for action-roguelite fanatics with a masochistic sense of humor.

Ed-0: Zombie Uprising exits Early Access on July 13, releasing on Steam for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. A digital PC code was provided to Screen Rant for the purpose of this review.

READ: Baldur’s Gate 3 Review In Progress

Leave a Comment