It’s close to Halloween so surely time for a Stephen King tie-in on the App Store?
Indeed, Paramount has dug up an old film licence, providing us with a Pet Cemetery game.
Stephen King should be spinning in his bed.
Granted Pet Cemetery isn’t one of his best books, and the film wasn’t all that either, but this iPhone game should be hit over the head with a shovel and buried deep in a lead-lined grave.
Of course, there’s always something lost in translation between different media, but the deconstruction of a tale of grief and dealing with loss into a weak top-down tap-shooter doesn’t mark out developer Last Legion or publisher Paramount as wanting to do anything but cash in on Halloween.
That’s fair enough. It’s the quality of the game that really stinks, however.
For one thing, each of the very short levels is effectively the same, with set spawn points – typically house doors and bushes – from which either townsfolks or zombie kids and animals (bird, cat, dog) randomly emerge.
Each follows a linear, preset course to its predetermined exit point – usually another door.
The bad guys don’t have any artificial intelligence, attacking only when they collide with something edible that’s directly in their path. Indeed, because of the way characters spawn, it sometimes seems that the living are chasing the dead.
I know the reanimated are supposed to be stupid, but, really, come on.
Your job as the lone protector of the living is to frantically tap on anything that’s not a townsman until it dies in a splat of green.
Your only obstacle in this task is the number of characters on the screen and the ‘reload’ button in the bottom left of the screen that you have to tap to keep the bullets flowing. Various power-ups also appear that earn you bonus points and extra health. Occasionally you get a bigger ammo pack, too.
Your health level drops, either when the living are eaten or the dead escape without being shot, until it’s Game Over. If you avoid that fate, at the end of each level your kill and save totals are totted up, providing you with a score that can be sent out to Facebook or emailed to a friend.
And that’s it. There’s no variation in terms of the location, the enemies, the people you’re saving, let alone the gameplay as you progress. You just keep tapping away until you complete the game or die in the process. The latter is preferable to the former.
“Fifteen levels of fright” is the official marketing line. The real verdict rhymes with that.