Avert your eyes from the pixelated red zombie bloodbath! Ted By Dawn brings a double barreled shotgun, grenades and a chainsaw to the hardcore 2D side scrolling platforming genre set in post apocalyptic zombie wasteland. We’ve all played zombie games and even hardcore 2D platformers, but the combination of the two brings a fresh twist to the table along with grenades, fire, spikes and torsos. It might be tough, but its so fun and satisfying killing pixelated enemies, cutting down zombies and other silliness.
You play as Ted, a back woods survivalist when the world has gone to Hades in a hand basket. The objective is simple, make it to the end of each level without dying. One hit and you’re dead and its back to the start time and time again. You’ve got infinite lives, there are no checkpoints and you’ll get better as time goes on. Between the standard levels you’ll find a side scrolling motorcycle ride and three bosses to polish off what is a ten level alpha prototype. If the game is too hard, which it is, there’s a level select so you can get a feel for every level. I welcome a level select with any game, but its important for alphas to have them.
Completing a level reveals your rank at the end. It also rewards you with an enjoyable cut scene that gives you funny dialog and a sense of Ted’s zany world. Meeting midieval characters on the road that offer you a crystal, but you shoot them, because that’s just how Ted is. The bosses even have a lot of charm to them. Two rednecks holed up in a building, you’ll need to kill one and whittle down the other man’s health. All while dodging zombies that inevitably break in. That’s just the first boss, but expect giant hulks and space mutants to greet you. The second boss felt glitched where it just wouldn’t move and it kept taking my buckshot until it died.
The controls are simple, you’ve got a double jump for platforming, pull the right trigger for your gun that fires straight. You get two shots before you’ll need to reload, but I fell into a pattern of trigger, reload, trigger reload. Left and right moves you with no ability to crouch. For anything at your feet you have grenades that explode, kill everything that wasn’t living to begin with and leave a trail of fire behind. There are grenade icons to replenish your explosives.
As you play through the game, you’ll encounter chainsaws that take away control of your gun, but give you a nifty way to plow through enemies. Once it runs out of fuel, you toss it and watch it explode into flames. These flames can hurt zombies as well as yourself if you’re not careful. That’s how a fantasy game about zombies goes, there’s realism in the fire.
The game is full of creative little gameplay details. You can shoot the rope of a hanging zombie to release it and possibly kill you or end up in the blades of a saw. Sometimes a buckshot will sever a zombie in half causing it to crawl around even faster than it ever walked. When a zombie runs into fire it morphs into a running pair of legs that will erratically hop around. Its all beautiful, fun and random. These little things make for interesting situations in some play throughs that don’t happen in others. Admittedly, there are some cheap deaths when you sever a zombie in half only to have it rush and jump you. The collision detection seems a bit off as well, but with a double jump its not that bad.
Other enemies to watch out for are bone throwers that don’t always aim directly at you, but they do throw at random increments. Sometimes its a few at once, other times they ease up to let you move again. Later skeletons will launch missiles that will leave fire. Each fire that gets left whether its explosive or spit will go away after a few seconds. You’ll also find a few giant biker zombies that throw molotov cocktails at you. There are insect swarms that will float through platforms and obstacles to get you. Even zombies that explode and leave infected goo on the ground that will kill you. It makes for a pretty interesting game overall.
As for the motorcycle level, it plays out like a runner where you ride up ramps, jump over pits and barbed wire, before shooting the occasional zombie. Thorn bushes will slow you down, but not kill you. Its a nice mechanic that isn’t fully used. I’d like to see more of these levels to break up the action and really make it a feature, but I don’t think some would enjoy being forced to do it.
In terms of extra frills, there is a survival mode where you alone or with a friend can pair up together as waves of burning zombie pants flood the single screen map. It’ll lead to some good fun when chaos ensues with all the running pants leaping around.
The only down side are the graphics and the difficulty. The graphics are simple, retro and good, but I’d fear them scaring people away. Ted by Dawn does a great job of layering foregrounds and backgrounds. Black scratches obscuring a bit of the screen to make it feel more creepy than a traditional pixelated theme. A few of the first levels didn’t have music and while the music isn’t up to the high entertainment of the game itself, it has a nice beat and fits in with the chaotic frenzy of Ted by Dawn.
Both the high scores and death count don’t work as of the time I’ve reviewed this alpha. The death count should be a good one to see since with every death the game exclaims what happened to you “IMPALED,” “BARBED” and “CRISPY” for each type of death. It adds to the charm this game has.
In the future, I think Ted By Dawn can be improved with checkpoints or some easy levels that let people have fun before things get too crazy. I appreciated some of the secrets like grenade walls in order to get chainsaws. The collision detection can be improved, but due to the Game Maker engine, I think it will be a tough hill to climb. Otherwise, its a a lot of fun. Who doesn’t like shotgunning zombies, platforming and getting the occasional chainsaw to mow them all down?
$2 is well worth it for Ted by Dawn for the amount of zany enjoyment that it brings. Even though I died dozens if not hundreds of times, it was never frustrating. I only remembered my death and made it back to the point quicker and quicker.