Puzzle games seem so sleek and perfected now, but stumbling out of the shadows comes a low budget, low production, yet solid, entertaining and engaging puzzler for your brain to chew on. Containment: The Zombie Puzzler is a tile based puzzle game where you need to surround zombies with matching people. Once you’ve surrounded a cluster of zombies with pink scientists, yellow punks, blue officers or green soldiers they kill the zombies and disappear themselves. Then the tiles fall to the south like falling tiles and others come in from the north. Its easy to shuffle your people around, click one and then another. No matter where they are, they’ll exchange positions.
I say its like falling tiles, because the camera is overhead and these tiles are really people on a street. Its an easy, engaging and enthralling game. If a zombie is at the edge of the puzzle grid, you only need to contain it with three or two people if its in a corner. Zombies only need to be contained by north, south, east and west rather than including northeast, northwest, southeast and so on.
Spend too much time and the zombies will target an adjacent human. After more time, they attack and turn them into a zombie. That’s when things get interesting, because you need more people to surround and contain them back to death. If there are enough zombies you might lack the same color of personnel to contain them all.
On top of a standard shuffling of people, there are special abilities. These abilities are dropped in crates and you can find them in trash cans unless there is a zombie lurking inside. They add more depth to the game. You can get a sniper shot that puts a bullet in a zombie’s head to kill it instantly. An air drop that bombs a horizontal line of people and zombies alike. There’s a line of radiation suits that turns three people into any color. Electricity will zap three people or zombies in a line. A grenade will destroy an area of seven people or zombies while a Molotov cocktail engulfs several tiles at random. While you can only hold three abilities at once, which is more than enough, you can carry them from block to block.
The campaign is broken into several blocks per chapter with five chapters making up each of the game’s three acts. It tells a story between the puzzles. The areas around the puzzles are all unique environments. Wrecked autos, playgrounds, streets and abandoned buildings. When camera moves from one cluster of humans and zombies you see text floating in the air over the road. Its nothing ground breaking, but its more interesting to see the seamless integration of a hovering camera between blocks.
Each block is different, so the puzzles are more than just perfect square grids. Sometimes a gas station will explode and collapse blocking any new reinforcements. To keep things interesting the game throws new challenges, such as zombies coming in from the sides. Win the block before they get to your people or you have more to contend with. Other times zombies will target people from above and just drop in. Normal zombies turn into grander zombies that need to be contained twice, but the problem with this is that the mega zombies look too similar to the normal ones.
The campaign suffers a bit from no rewards for everyone surviving a block of game. You’re just pushing on to complete block after block of each level resulting in no replay value other than its a good game. There is a survival mode that feels more like a traditional puzzle game where you get a score and graded at the end based on your time and survivors. You can get combos for killing two zombie areas at once and cascades for killing one area of zombies and then more people fall into place and kill other zombies.
Containment is a blend of great puzzle design with a sprinkle of charm, humor, bad voice acting that fits the unpolished aesthetic. The game is never horrifying, but it is bloody. There are overhead visuals of zombies eating people, blood splatters here and there and its done in a half bloody half silliness. The game itself could look better. The people could look more pleasing to the eyes from this overhead perspective.
If you can look beyond its visual flaws and cheesy voices, there’s a good puzzle game here. The low price makes it a good investment of money for your puzzle entertainment.