Art, Design and Technologies Editor , Ciara Darling, spills on the game they just can’t get enough of.
Plants vs. Zombies was first introduced into my life as a ten-year-old who couldn’t afford the full version. I played the demo, over and over again, finding ways to challenge myself with the few levels I had access to. Eventually, I got bored of effortlessly obliterating the zombie hordes and left the game behind. A few months ago, I found myself recalling my unfinished business with Plants vs. Zombies and, what a coincidence, it was on sale. I created a Steam account solely for this endeavour, and way too long later, my tired laptop screen was glowing with the saturated hues of the game.
Plants vs. Zombies is an adventure game centred around defending your home from oncoming zombies which become more durable, sneaky and nasty with every stage you complete. What makes this game unique within zombie games is your defence force. Instead of chainsaws and shotguns, you have an arsenal of plants and vegetables to protect your suburban property with. There are five levels overall, with you having to fend off multiple attacks within each level. You play the first two levels in your front garden, protecting your place during both the day and the night. Eventually, the zombies escalate their strategy and attack your back garden in the third and fourth levels. The final level culminates in a rooftop assault from the zombies.
Every level you start off by planting sunflowers that give sun, which you need to use in order to plant the other plants. While you are busy assembling your ‘army,’ zombies start slowly creeping into the different lanes of your garden. The zombies shamble down their respective lanes, and if not destroyed before they reach the end, they stumble into your house and eat your brain. The cartoonish edge of the ‘The Zombies Ate Your Brain’ screen helps take away the bitterness of losing with its silliness. While other zombie games might lean into horror, I found myself enjoying the more goofy and low-stakes atmosphere of this game. While I do enjoy a good scare, I have found myself preferring the more relaxed pace of this game as it allows me to unwind at the end of the day.
While other zombie games might lean into horror, I found myself enjoying the more goofy and low-stakes atmosphere of this game.
Despite how casual it feels at first, the game raises the stakes of each attack by gradually introducing a diverse group of zombies. These zombies are sometimes more durable, such as the traffic cone zombie who can’t be hurt until you destroy its traffic cone helmet. The game introduces more difficulty in its use of more complex zombies: pole-vaulting zombies who can easily jump over plants, catapult zombies who can attack your plants out of range, and bungee zombies who kidnap your plants from the sky. This variety in the design of the opponents left me sitting on the edge of my seat, excited to see what the game had in store for the following levels.
Plants vs. Zombies doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the plants it supplies you with either. They are personified and give an array of expressions, with them scowling as they prepare to attack, or crying when they get eaten. The plants at your disposal come in a variety of forms, including ones that shoot peas, potato mines and ‘wall-nuts’ that block the way for your attackers. Every few stages you are given a new plant that carries out an interesting attack and allows you to dodge ambushes from the more complex zombies. I was very amused by the wordplay used to name the different plants, and I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out which seven plants would be the most useful per level.
Overall, there is a level of nostalgia in the fact that I loved Plants vs. Zombies as a child and so returning and finding enjoyment in it as an adult means a lot to me. However, I was a little disappointed in how short the gameplay was, as I finished the adventure part of the game in under ten hours. While the mini-games and puzzles add a few more hours of gameplay, the survival mode could get a little repetitive with no new zombies or plants being introduced.
Overall, there is a level of nostalgia in the fact that I loved Plants vs. Zombies as a child and so returning and finding enjoyment in it as an adult means a lot to me. However, I was a little disappointed in how short the gameplay was, as I finished the adventure part of the game in under ten hours.
However, I can confidently say that the ending credits, a music video of the zombies partying on your property while a sunflower sings about hating zombies, is one hundred percent worth the run-through of the game. If you manage to complete it, there are sequels and spin-offs to the game that I have yet to play through, but I am intrigued.