When it comes to your average zombie movie wannabe, atmosphere is half the battle.
Unlike the rest of Team Pocket Gamer, I found Remedy's Alan Wake so terrifying that I had check my pants at the end of every session. The reason? I played it in the middle of the night, lights off, with a sign on my unlocked door saying 'zombies please enter here'.
A huge part of any zombiefest is fear, and in that regard End Night HD hits all the right notes. It's just a pity that it doesn't have coherent gameplay to go with it.
No end in sight
End Night HD plays out like a huge treasure hunt, albeit one in which your continued existence is constantly under threat. The action is viewed from above, and surviving in this 3D labyrinth involves venturing out, picking up items marked off on the map when instructed.
Initially, your task is to pick up blood samples, presumably in an effort to fathom how the entire population has been transformed into a crowd of blood-hungry monsters.
This means darting around from building to building, shooting or hacking down the undead as they approach from all sides. And they really do approach from all sides. All the time.
At your disposal to begin with is one of three weapons – a pistol, a shotgun, or an axe. You can pick up additional weapons en route.
Whatever your arsenal, however, your defence remains the same: you move around with the thumbstick on the left, and take down your rivals with a pad on the right.
Given that most of the gameplay takes place in the pitch dark, this results in a hell of a lot of bumbling – indeed, were you to watch your performance back it would have much in common with your attempts to find your way to bed after a particularly heavy Friday night.
As awkward as this might sound, however, it's a workable system when the zombies attack in small doses. Combined with the game's haunting soundtrack, End Night HD genuinely feels like a high quality product when all the elements come together.
The problem is, those moments are too few to mention.
End Night HD has no real structure to it, so rather than place zombies strategically so the challenge ramps up as the gameplay moves on it simply throws scores of them at you constantly from the moment you step outside.
While this gives the game a certain amount of realism, it makes it unplayable at times: within seconds of starting you'll find yourself being forced to pick up health packs and take a bath – End Night HD's rather innovative cure if you find yourself bitten by a zombie or two.
That would be fair enough if the same thing didn't keep happening every few minutes. In fact, irony of ironies, you'll frequently find yourself being attacked at the very moment you're washing off the infection of the previous onslaught.
It's a frustration that grows throughout: every time you're sent to hunt out some object or other – which are marked off an entirely inadequate map – your efforts are unfairly blocked by unsubtle gameplay, which throws enemy after enemy at you without any level of sophistication.
It's not gameplay - it's attrition. You'll have left the game long before the zombies are spooning out your brains, but it'll be frustration rather than fear that sees you reaching for the home button.