Reality Zombies Brings Next-Level Realism to the Arcade Experience (4.5 stars)

Perhaps you can’t get enough of the Walking Dead.  Or maybe you have always wonder with your buddies about who would last longer in the zombie apocalypse.  Well now you can settle that bet in a virtual reality game right outside Boston.

Located at the Cambridge Side Galleria Mall, the location is ideal for folks who want that urban undead experience.  It is located walking distance from the Lechmere T-stop on the Green line so just about anyone can get to the action.  Fighting the undead horde has never been easier when you can do so from an air conditioned mall after you get your shopping done.

Reality Zombies is the work of Mark Belmarsh of Total Respawn Mixed Entertainment.  This store is the first of what he hopes to be many since his long term goal is to franchise the product and expand it to other genres.  We could fight aliens next.  Or maybe wild animals.  But for now, everyone loves shooting zombies so it’s a safe bet this will be popular.

So what should you expect at Reality Zombies?  Well zombies galore of course.  You strap on a virtual reality helmet, a high-end Microsoft HoloLens, and pick up a toy gun.  Before you is a wall with a target you get a few free shots at so you can get a feel for how it all works.  And then the zombies emerge out of the fog.  They really do seem as if they are walking towards you in a 3D environment. The glasses aren’t opaque. So instead of having your view completely blocked, which can feel disconcerting, you see the mall store setup and then the zombies are overlaid on top in your glasses. This makes it far more comfortable to shift your feet and stance while you aim and fire.

And you have to aim for the head!  Body shots do not do as much damage but head shots can be an instant kill.  If your aim is good, and you get multiple head shot without missing, your score gets higher and higher.  So like a true zombie epic, you go for the head. 

Enemies get tougher as the game progresses and more and more start coming.  It is quite a shock when (*spoiler*) the zombies start running fast and you barely have time to react.  Then a hulking huge zombie that take multiple shots to kill start to appear.  And soon you start to be overwhelmed.

Don’t worry, because as the monsters get tougher, you get better weapons.  At first you have a revolver which only fires six shots and is slow to reload.  Then it becomes a semi-automatic pistol which has more shots and a faster reload time.  Finally you get an Uzi sub machine gun.  You would think a fully automatic gun would be great, but you run out of bullets fast and become vulnerable as you reload.  So a little bit of trigger discipline goes a long way. 

Reality Zombies has a feel like it is a game in development.  The graphics are good, but not cutting edge.  The gameplay is fun with a decent variety, but as a player I crave a bit more.  I’d like to see more stages, more weapons and more monsters.  And I would love more themes like aliens or monsters.  You could even adapt it to shoot not threatening item for target practice.  I get the feeling this is a work in progress and that down the road, we will see more because this small dose is certainly fun.  I would like to see this game at it’s next stage and compare it to this experience.  Having done it once, I would want a different experience to be a repeat customer on a regular basis. 

Overall Reality Zombies is a fun experience that everyone should try.  If you are a fan of horror, video games and virtual reality, this game is perfect.  I could see it being part of a bigger day of exploring Boston and grabbing dinner or as a casual experience by the locals who want something fun and different to do.  With places like The Museum of Science and The Duck Tours nearby, it’s a great addition to a fun day. 4.5 stars.