Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
There are multiple layers of nostalgia going on in Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse. In the game, of course, you play as the eponymous zombie, wreaking havoc in a stereotypical version of a 1950s town. On top of that, this 2020 version of the game is a straight port of the 2005 Xbox minor hit. In other words, it?s a 15-year-old look at how people were looking back at the world of 50 years ago.
With that kind of background, you might expect the game to feel dated. And, well, it does: Stubbs the Zombie looks, feels, and plays like you?d expect a 2005 game to look, play, and feel.
That?s not inherently a bad thing, mind you, more a statement of fact. While I?ve complained in the past about games that overly rely on players having fond memories of the original to overcome obvious shortcomings, that?s not the case here. Stubbs the Zombie?s core gameplay of rampage around area, eating every human you can find, has aged a lot better than, say, a 3D platforming collect-a-thon. It?s kind of timeless, as these things go.
As for the game looking and feeling like it?s from 2005, that?s more of a mixed bag. On the looks front, I won?t lie: this is a pretty ugly-looking game. I?ve been playing a lot of PSP games in light of the impending store shutdown, and while Stubbs the Zombie is probably better looking than most of those handheld games, it?s a close contest.
On the flipside, however, the game feeling like it?s from 2005 stems from the fact it has an absolutely incredible soundtrack, full of ?50s covers by the hottest indie rock bands from 2005. Death Cab for Cutie doing ?Earth Angel”! A cover of ?My Boyfriend?s Back” by The Raveonettes! The Flaming Lips! Cake! The Walkmen! Ben Kweller! As someone who was very into these bands the first time around, having them pop up in this context spoke to me on a deeply personal level.
Is that causing me to overrate Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse a little? Perhaps — as we learned from another relic/artefact of the same era, great soundtracks can help overcome a lot of flaws. But at the same time, this is just a mindlessly fun game where you can run around chomping on brains, and that sort of thing never goes out of style.
Aspyr provided us with a Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse Switch code for review purposes.