Undead Paradise is a Stylishly Silly Zombie Shooter [VIDEO]

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Mar 27, 2014 04:05 PM EDT

Making a zombie cute is by no means an easy feat. After all, take the shambling corpse for what it is - a grotesque, rotting bag of meat, that, by walking the planet in an attempt to satisfy an insatiable hunger for flesh, defies everything we know about anything in this world and the next. As we've seen with PopCap's Plants vs. Zombies, it's possible to give the ghouls some charm, but if tower defense isn't your style, or you don't want to give EA any more of your money, Undead Paradise is a game you might want to sink some rotten teeth into.

Undead Paradise is a dandy 'lil sidescroller from the L.A. based indie developer JL Studio. While you may not have heard of the game just yet, it does have about all the staples you'd expect to find in more well-known titles, but it hasn't picked up steam just yet.

Players begin with choosing from a selection of objective based missions, ranging from collecting supplies, annhilating zombies, defending an escort, or simply surviving. The more missions you complete or zombies you kill, then the more money you earn, which can be used to upgrade and buy weapons, power up items, or play with character stats like health and special abilities. If you don't have the cash in the game, buying it with real world money is an option thanks to the hotly debated microtransaction. It's an option, but far from forced, relegating Undead Paradise far and away from the many pay-to-win games that litter Google Play and The App Store.

Completing all the missions will unlock a boss, a lumbering brute who's easy to conquer, provided you have a special attack on reserve and a few bullets to finish the job. If you need to raise the funds, you're free to go back and grind away before taking him on, which I'd encourage if you want to earn enough money to buy more weapons and/or customizations.

Obviously, it's in your best interest to upgrade weapon and character stats, as zombies will grow tougher over time. Different types of undead have varying strengths, but you won't see them until you progress into further "weeks," the game's version of levels. Each week is longer then the last, requiring more and more stars to complete. If you want variety, you'll have to endure some unfortunately repetitive gameplay. But if you enjoy slashing zombies to bits, it's not a problem.

There's four characters to choose from, all adorably rendered in a chibi style, something anime fans will dig. This provides an interesting contrast with the game's more serious sounding musical tones, which have a sort of Resident Evil flair that rings familiar of exploring the Arklay Mansion. I never expected to control something so cute and have such a feeling of anxiety, especially from a free-to-play game.

Players will begin with Shinji, armed with a machete and basic handgun, but can have the option of Shiori, a dual uzi wielding blonde, the Rambo styled Kato with heavy machine gun and bowie knife, or Z Hunter, reminescent of a certain sheriff from a particularly popular AMC television show. The only downfall is that the characters can't be unlocked through any other means but a straight money purchase (this was at least the case on Android, which is how I played the game), each more costly.

While this sort of thing is becoming more commonplace, especially with mobile games, it's not something I'm particularly fond of, and Undead loses points here. I get the need for revenue, but I'd happily sit through a pop up ad or tolerate a banner if it meant I could play as a different character here and there. Still, the game was released only earlier this month, so things can be adjusted. Case in point, JL's future plans for the game include a story mode and trophy support to players can earn more money.

Undead Paradise shows promise, but it needs a bit more polish, but it's worth a look if you want something with a bit more depth. I look forward to what comes next. You can try the game for free on Android, or for $2.49 on PC. Take a look at the trailer below.

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