Zombies are everywhere these days. Re-animated corpses have sunk their teeth into the public imagination, and the variety of media containing them is multiplying rapidly.

It's difficult for a game to stand out in this slowly shuffling crowd, so it's refreshing to have Laughing Jackal's OMG-Z rise out of the pile.

This Minis offering is ostensibly a puzzler in which you fire a handful of shots from a safe distance into a mass of zombies on a single screen, attempting to clear as many as possible from areas that include a hospital, a sports ground and a school.

With so few bullets at your disposal, the key to success is chaining kills together through intelligent use of the death properties of different types of zombie.

BANG! And the dead are gone!

When killed, plain enemies create a small blast radius and damage others, while the Bloated explode violently with a large area of effect. Riflemen and Cops fire their weapons as they fall - Cops' bullets pass through their flesh-hungry comrades and the bullets of Riflemen ricochet when they make contact.

Finally, the Bilious will melt into pools of acid that damage anything that moves through them, which is gross, but pretty cool to look at.

Strewn across many levels are barrels that spew fire when destroyed, setting alight any nearby zombies for a combined cacophony of projectiles and gibs. Maximising the effectiveness of the barrels is often the only way to finish an area, and since they're placed randomly – as are the zombies themselves – you'll often find yourself restarting an area from the very beginning.

Load times are fast, so this isn't a massive issue, but it's a little annoying having to do this several times to get a useful layout.

Yet it's this controlled chaos that's OMG-Z's greatest asset. As in Peggle before it, there's a satisfaction in shaping the seemingly random, making educated guesses on how a scene will unravel once you've pulled the trigger.

A bevy of upgrades adds a layer of strategic depth, letting you, for example, focus on 'upgrading' the zombies in an area to do more damage, or giving you access to more bullets per round.

Red and dead. And black. And white.

Black, white, and lots of crimson make up the title's look, which takes much of its direction from the Walking Dead series. Though it's not original – or nearly as detailed as the comic book franchise - it is at least striking to behold.

Pressing the shoulder buttons overlays the visuals with block colours to denote enemy type, as well as adding a health bar, bringing clarity to a play field that is often overwhelmed by the number of on-screen bad guys.

Clocking in at around five hours of play to ace each area, and constantly tweaking the mix of enemy types to fight, OMG-Z never outstays its welcome and doesn't rely on its visuals and the current zombie fad to win you over.

If you're in the mood to take on a once human horde but are sick of shooters, go and grab this puzzler with brains now.


Laughing Jackal's latest offers challenge and depth in its mechanics, bottling the chaos of a zombie outbreak in a smartly designed puzzler
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.