(Developed by Wideload games and published by Aspyr)
When video games were made for the single purpose of player’s fun, with formulating new and interesting concepts and Xbox exclusives were actually innovative, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse is a hidden masterpiece from the hidden closets.
Apart from nostalgia, this game has one-of-a-kind gameplay, with one of the most unique concepts ever. YOU CAN PLAY AS A ZOMBIE! If that is not enough to please your tasty human brain, you can do literally every crazy batshit imaginable in this sandbox that is creatively balanced with the linear level-based structure.
Not much spoiling in the intro now, let’s begin
As for graphics, it looks like your average game from 2005, which have not aged well. The major art focus of the game is the 50s vision of a futuristic metropolis. This is noticed in the music, the NPC’s and even vehicle models. Everything has popping colors which make things easy to understand.
The UI is very amateurish, corresponds to the game’s theme, and overall it is more childlike, i.e., easy to understand and notice on the screen.
The soundtrack, as I mentioned earlier is having an 80s vibe to which is really charming and well crafted. The game’s audio design kind of hasn’t aged well, but they aren’t terrible either.
If you get the remastered version from the PS Store, Microsoft Store, or steam there are improvements to audio.
The gameplay that is featured in Stubbs the Zombie is one of its kind and unique. Sure some games let you play as a zombie, but none of them are single-player sandbox, usually co-op survival shooters like Dead by Daylight or Left for Dead 2. Even in open-world games like Dying Light, it is not that open-ended of an experience.
Stubbs is the only video game that lets you play as a zombie in open world-like sandbox levels with 100% freedom of creativity while also introducing many fun features, yet I am shocked to see how hidden it was. Maybe gamers don’t like playing a zombie?
First the movement, Stubbs can do all the basic movements like walking, sprinting, crouching, and jumping despite being a zombie. Stubbs can also fight like a dead man; he can punch hostiles, eat their brains while they scream for help, and fart. I am not kidding. You can press F to fart in this game, and it’s a huge one, big enough to stun the enemies.
Beating an enemy to death using your melee attacks will turn your enemies into zombies, while eating their brains will turn them into zombies immediately. This zombie army will help you take over humanity by biting more humans into the living undead, and many of them will even follow you when you whistle at them within a range. Some zombies will even follow you to the next level.
Stubbs can also control a human body and use it for activities like using weapons and opening doors, or simply spectating over other humans.
Stubbs may have died 25 yrs before the game starts, but he has not forgotten his basic skills like driving various wacky vehicles, which are incredibly fun to drive. Not every level has one, but when there is a vehicle, that is the best level.
Stubbs also knows how to dance like a true gentleman. The game has many sandbox levels, with each one unique in its own core. Players have the freedom to move to the next level at their own pace. Sometimes completing a level could be hard because this is not a hand-holding game, but hey, the marked 18+ on the box for a reason, it requires some mature approach to objectives and intense gore and violence mature themes. And when I say intense gore, I am not exclusive to just blood coming out 🙂 The game features falling limbs and intense Gorey animations, which may not fit everyone’s consumption.
Stubbs can also make make-shift weapons and items. The difficulty spike is customizable with five present difficulty modes. The insane mode is unfairly hard with hostile shooting you from miles ahead until you find a sad-o-mobile (an overpowered vehicle with a mounted gun). Now they will try to survive you. I recommend starting from normal difficulty, AI is adequately smart, and also, it’s a bit challenging.
Stubbs has, not the best in the world, but a pretty gripping story. Again the story makes no sense, but the thing is, I like to play games for fun, not in-depth stories. The game setting is in a futuristic city of 1956 as the media of the 1950s portraited one, Punchbowl. The core story begins way before the game started in 1933. Edward “Stubbs” Stubblefield was a poor salesman trying to survive in the great depression.
Though he found a little happiness with a girl named Maggie Monday, he was later murdered by the girl’s dad. Decades later, the modern city of Punchbowl, Pennsylvania, is built right over the top of his grave by a multi-billionaire playboy industrialist Andrew Monday, the son of Maggie.
Stubs rise from his grave as a zombie, and in a fit of rage, kills anyone who comes over his path, raising an army of dad and taking revenge upon various culprits of his past. He meets his love of life, Maggie Monday again, only to reveal that Andrew is, in fact, his son. Stubbs turns Maggie into a zombie and escapes the city of punchbowl while the city is nuked to wipe out the undead leaving everyone to their death while Stubbs and Maggie “live” happily ever after.
For me, it was a really goofy story with some social contrasts and dark humor at places hidden under the layer of vibrant art style and gameplay, making it a true underdog of a tale. The writing was on-spot humor and nothing too flashy—a simple understand the rebellion tale of a tax invader.
Stubbs the Zombie is one of the only zombie simulators in the world and has the best goofy and balanced gameplay. It is a damn shame this game got lost in time because it is one of the hidden gems.