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Monday, 14 May 2018

Review: Garage

Review Garage

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the underground parking lot...

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Zombie Dynamics | Nintendo Switch | Digital Only
1 Player
Reviewed by: Curtis Chapman

* Review Code Provided by: Tiny Build *

“Would you like to play a game?” as “When there’s no room in hell, the dead will walk the earth”, so “Be Afraid, be very afraid” because “Something has found us”. We might not be able to pack in a reference to every single horror movie we can think of but Zombie Dynamic’s new top-down twin-stick horror title, Garage, is sure going to give it a try! Out now on the eShop for the Nintendo Switch and currently priced at £13.49, and remember, the next scream may be your own!

Games have often touted their thematic or graphical inspirations as one of their major selling points in an ongoing battle to convince players to take a chance on a new or unknown IP. Garage by Zombie Dynamics is the first to attempt to boast the VHS-era as the inspiration for its graphical style and is one of its key selling points, attempting to use the imagery of grainy, scanline footage as a form of graphical pizzazz to complement the gritty tones of a top-down Horror title.

Garage Screenshot 1

A hybrid twin-stick shooter meets survival horror title, Garage nods to the genre at every turn, coming across as a homage to every possible B-Movie Horror flick you could think of. Waking up in the boot of a crashed car in the blood-soaked car park of an underground mall, things aren’t looking good for our good-for-nothing drug dealing protagonist, Butch. With carnage everywhere and multi-appendage abominations on the loose, it quickly becomes necessary to tool up and fight your way through any resistance you come across as you try to piece together what has happened. Though initially intentionally ambiguous, there is a constant drip feed of the story as you progress through the game via character interactions, documents you found and news reports you can watch on TV’s left on throughout the mall.

While VHS-tag line is certainly unique and the temperamental characteristics of the medium would offer a multitude of possibilities to create unusual graphical filters, that replicated that feel of an overused, dusty and poorly tracked cassette are somewhat lacking in title, with the developer seemingly opting to primarily make used of a scanline filter to achieve the desired effect, with the occasional graphical flourish for good measure. This works well at smoothing out some of the 2D pixel work but pales in comparison to what could have been if the unique hook had been developed on further. The artwork sitting underneath the filter is attractive and the game makes good use of lighting and particle effects to add a reassuring glow to dimly lit rooms and corridors.

Controlling Butch is a simple task though doesn’t feel as tight and responsive as it should, with the twin-stick movement making your players walk animation feel more like an attempt to maneuver on ice rather than the short, staccato-like reactions that you would expect from someone placed in such a horror-filled, ultraviolent situation. Zombie Dynamics have however attempted to add further variations on how the player moves based on their current situation or amount of remaining health they have, with instances of intoxication or heavy injury causing Butch to react sluggishly, stumble about and generally be harder to handle. This does a good job of adding some player feedback in the absence of the ability to convey these things graphically due to the limiting nature of top-down viewpoint.

Garage Screenshot 2

Combat features both melee and ranged weaponry and is handled in true twin-stick fashion. Garage makes use of a fantastic line of sight mechanic, completely hiding enemies from view if you are unable to see them. This ramps up tension when trying to outmaneuver patrolling enemies as you are never completely sure of their location, and makes running away from a fight and laying in wait around a corner as nerve-racking as simply fighting your foe head-on. There are opportunities to circumvent this by monitoring you adversary on CCTV cameras, though a keen mind and precision are required to remember locations and movement patterns.

Even in its default difficulty Garage is tough and unforgiving, though strangely its one of the games smallest enemies that pose the biggest problem. Rats are littered around each level and although they simply require a kick or two to best, the awkwardness of aiming at such a fast-moving rodent can quickly cause them to swarm and deplete a large amount of your health, if not overwhelm you, killing you off completely. Often hidden in lootable boxes as a surprise to greet you instead of useful supplies, it is understandable that these have been included to add a level of tensions when hunting down for requisite ammunition of health packs but the sheer number of instances they appear, coupled with just how much damage they inflict, is something that should really be addressed to ensure an enjoyable playing experience for the end user.

Garage Screenshot 3

Garage is a quality attempt at creating a suspense-filled visceral horror title from the top-down perspective. Though the story isn’t unique and contains almost every trope from the horror movie handbook, the games ability to determine exactly when it needs to switch between fast-paced action and slow survival horror surroundings creates a rollercoaster experience that will entertain you from start to finish.


+ Suspensful line-of-sight mechanic.
+ Entertaining trope filled storyline.
+ High octane gameplay.

- Underdeveloped graphical style.
- Overpowered rodents.
- Floaty character movement.

Verdict: Above Average – Worth a Try

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