Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse is somewhat of an acquired taste. The gameplay consists of talking your way through scenarios, the writing is full of pop culture references and a lot of swearing (and a few less than PC takes), and it’s humour is best described as a mix between Family Guy and Happy Tree Friends – while I’m a fan of both of those, the mash-up here manages to take the worst of both elements…
After a brief bit of exposition, we find ourself in watching over Larry the dog as he attempts to scavenge in a store. The bulk of the experience is watching one character or another loot these places, while you keep an eye out for zombies. All of these take the form of various animals, such as Larry the aforementioned dog, or Hank, his ex-salesman rabbit friend.When they find something, a menu appears allowing you to choose what’s taken. Quite why there isn’t a take all button is beyond me though; the awkward UI makes it a chore to pick up multiple items. They do have a weight limit to what can be carried, so sometimes you can’t take everything, but even just the cursor staying on the correct side of the menu would’ve been helpful.
Throughout this the characters are constantly talking, though none of it is particularly engaging. In fact, some of it will down right offend for the sake of offending seemingly. I’m pretty easy going in that regard, but even I had a few moments of ‘Sheesh… ‘. Peppered in between the mostly terrible jokes are pop culture references that are years out of date, referencing things such as Lord of the Rings or the Walking Dead. And subtle these are not; flat out quoting lines from the films then saying the name of said film top hammer it home is the order of the day here. There’s nothing wrong with these sort of references, but they need to have a little nuance or relevance to the story, not shoe-horned in because you can.
At the end of each scavenge, something inevitably goes wrong, and you’ll need to make a choice on how to proceed. Unlike it’s obvious inspiration in Telltales games, here the choices are quite frankly uninteresting, and not particularly well devised. While I think there’s some element of tongue in cheek at play here, it has the knock on effect of making any impact feel out of your hands. As a previous salesman, it’s up to you to convince other characters to act in your best interests, while making it appear as though it’s for their benefit. But things rarely felt engaging enough that you were having any real effect on proceedings.
In between missions, you’ll find yourself in a little area with several NPC’s to talk to, and convince to work for you. While I’ll admit that some of the conversations did at least elicit a small chuckle, most of the time it was dialogue for the sake of having it. Some areas will have a game of dice for you to play too, to wager your loot on but after a couple of rounds it won’t be worth your time. Especially as you’ll need to use that awful UI to select items to trade.
I do think that things look quite nice mind. The art is expressive and colourful, and while animation is simple it does a good job of giving some life to the characters. But it can’t make up for such a simple concept, and one that’s hardly executed in the most engaging way.
If you fancy some childish ‘adult’ humour interspersed with a simple choice based dialogue system, Scheming will do you for an evening. Just don’t expect to get much more out of it than that.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.