By Chris Picone, 08 December 2021
I’ve been a fan of 16 Bit Nights for a while now, and I loved Flesh Eaters (FE), which is essentially the spiritual predecessor of Chromosome Evil (CE). Ordinarily, I have a policy against comparing a game against another game during a review but in this case it doesn’t make sense not to.
Both Flesh Eaters and Chromosome Evil are predominantly real-time tactical games that see you raiding houses, shops and police stations for supplies, with loads of choice and consequence and the odd text adventure thrown in. Gameplay’s very similar but CE boasts more mission types, more locations, more upgrades, more everything. One of the other big changes it that in FE you had a home base but in CE your base is mobile, adding a touch of exploration. CE is graphically far superior, although FE had its own retro charm.
Flesh Eaters was very short as games go, and very tough, which meant that while death came quickly, victory often felt just out of reach. This led to some frantic gameplay and a constant urge to have “one more go” – going to make it this time for sure! and so for nights on end I found myself playing until 2 or 3 in the morning. Chromosome Evil, on the other hand, is a much larger game and has more of a story, giving it a much slower burn. Rather than playing the game over a few long nights, I found myself firing it up every afternoon to uncover the next bit of the story and can see myself continuing that habit for several weeks. But while CE may not be as frenetic as Flesh Eaters, that doesn’t mean it lacks intensity. Watching your resources (and with it your chances of survival) dwindle adds constant pressure, every decision you make leaves you doubting that you made the right choice – it’s a constant juggle between short- and long-term gain at the expense of the other – and some of the tactical raids get downright hairy. Even on a good run, death feels like it’s always right on your tail.
The verdict? Chromosome Evil is still in Early Access, so I’ve only been able to explore roughly a quarter of the full game and there are still a few minor typos and bugs. Nevertheless, 16 Bit Nights has a reputation for quality and even in such an early state, the graphics are great, the combat’s intense, and the story seems promising. If you like real-time tactical games – and zombie survival games more specifically – this is by far one of the better ones on the market.