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Welcome to ParadiZe Preview – A Vapid ARPG Where Zombies Do Your Bidding

Welcome to Paradize
Image: Eko Software/Nacon

Everybody should just get over zombies already. That’s an article we published way back in 2015, but even with nine circles around the sun’s worth of more zombie media shoved on top of what already existed, I’m still not sure I agree. Yes, the living dead may be a horror subgenre that’s been milked beyond death, but I think there’s still juice in that zombie engine yet. There are still things we’ve not seen and ideas that haven’t yet been thought up. And with Welcome to ParadiZe, developer Eko Software is having a good ol’ crack at bringing something new.

In Welcome to ParadiZe, an action RPG coming to PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC on 29th February, zombies aren’t just the enemy. They’re also your companions, waiting to be enslaved by the use of a special helmet. Pop an automation helmet onto a brain-hungry zombie and it suddenly becomes a Zombot, a helpful minion who exists merely to do your bidding. Use it to help you gather resources, kill other zombies, heal you when you’re hurt – whatever you want, really.

I’ve had a couple of hours with Welcome to ParadiZe, playing through the game’s opening segment. I’ve been introduced to the woodland area of ParadiZe, got my very own Zombot and completed a few simple missions. I’ve laid waste to a couple hundred zombies and collected various resources that I can use to craft things with, and I’ve explored a tiny bit of the game’s world. It’s been fun.

Welcome to Paradize
Image: Eko Software/Nacon

What it hasn’t been, however, is particularly deep. Welcome to ParadiZe might aim to bring a new twist to the zombie genre, but it doesn’t do anything particularly new or exciting in terms of gameplay. In fact, in some ways, it’s rather old-fashioned and rusty. Its isometric viewpoint allows for a fairly comprehensive overview of the battlefield, so to speak, but when it comes to combat, things couldn’t really get more barebones.

Related: The Best Zombie Games on PS5

You’ll find new weapons as you play, and so checking your inventory regularly to see if you have anything more powerful is wise. Over time, you’ll be able to craft better gear, too. You can have two weapons equipped: a melee weapon and a ranged weapon (typically a gun). Here’s the kicker, though: you can’t have them equipped at the same time. Have your gun equipped, and you’ll inexplicably use that as a melee weapon if you press the melee button. You’ll need to switch between both weapons to use them, which is an absolutely unfathomable choice. Sure, you could instead have two guns equipped, or two melee weapons, and switch between those. But since melee attacks have their own, dedicated button, why not allow that alongside a gun or two?

Welcome to Paradize
Image: Eko Software/Nacon

That bewildering decision aside, shooting or bashing through zombies in Welcome to ParadiZe is entertaining enough. There’s no real nuance here: simply fire or swing your weapon enough times and they’ll go down. You’ve got a basic dodge roll to get out of the way, and the ability to heal on the fly (providing you’ve got enough bandages) but that’s about it.

Enemies generally don’t pose too much of a threat – unless you wander into an area you’re not quite ready for yet, that is. I found myself confronted with zombies equipped with beehives, and was stung to death faster than I could say “Arrgh, I’m covered in bees!”. There’s not much punishment for death it would seem, at least: I simply respawned at the closest fast travel point I’d activated.

Zombies aren’t the only threat here: I’ve ran into some bloodthirsty (what I assume are) honey badgers that cling onto my legs for dear life unless I shake them off. And, judging by the press shots provided, there’s a fight against a zombelephant to look forward to. That’s something cool, certainly.

Welcome to Paradize
Image: Eko Software/Nacon

There’s a lot of Welcome to ParadiZe that I haven’t had my eyes on yet. There’s a whole base building element to the game, which I’ve not got to experience. You’ll grow your camp over time, setting Zombots to work to protect it and provide for it. I’ve also not seen any other biomes that the game has to offer, with the demo taking place solely in the forest area. There’s one more element I’m looking forward to trying out, too: multiplayer. You can team up either online or locally, and with someone else at your side, the battle against zombies is likely to be much more fun.

Ultimately, the jury’s still out on Welcome to ParadiZe. I don’t expect this to be a game that’s going to light anyone’s world on fire. But from the sample I’ve had, it may well be an entertaining way to spend a few evenings – although with an estimated playtime of 30+ hours it might outstay its welcome after a while. Unless base building drastically changes the flow of the game – and I can’t imagine it will – there’s no real substance here. Turning zombies into Zombots may be unique, but it’s hardly a gamechanger in any meaningful way.

Welcome to ParadiZe is set to release on 29th February. It’s coming to PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.