Garage from tinyBuild and Zombie Dynamics is a top down twin-stick shooter with a heavy inspiration taken from the VHS era B-movies. It takes this humorous approach and combines that with horror tropes with the intent or what feels like the intent of making something that feels like both horror and slightly comedy but not to the extent of it feeling disjointed. Is it enjoyable or should the Garage door remain closed?
Butch is an ex drug dealer who quite possibly finds himself having the worst day of his life, stranded inside a complex called The Garage with both zombie-like enemies and human enemies, a double-threat. In terms of story, it doesn’t get delivered from the very beginning, you must discover it as you play which was a nice hook to keep me going. I found the story interesting enough in the bite-size chunks to make me wanting to know more and watch it evolve.
Butch begins a back and forth dialogue very early on with Anaconda, a character whom needs saving and communicates with Butch sporadically on his adventure. This dialogue is how the story was delivered but also how most of the humour was brought in. It kept things feeling fresh in an otherwise rinse and repeat flow of action.
Top down shooters are typically associated with fast-paced gameplay and that isn’t necessarily the case here, I mean of course it can get a bit hectic at times but at no point did it feel all rush. You more or less set the pace of progression, being able to take your time and explore the world or of course you can run headfirst into all challenges. It’s a nice choice that caters to multiple play-styles.
Thought and care is needed to survive and you always need to be aware of the health meter that can drain so fast without you realising. Be smart about pick-ups and consumables, med kits can be picked up and stored until later but candy bars and refreshments are one time pick and use right then and there. You need to be careful because these beneficial items can be sparse, it came as quite a surprise to me this item management aspect, but definitely welcomed.
The further you progress you get access to more weapons and ammo variety which means more survivability on one front, but on the other it can mean more difficult enemies to come up against. It was a fine balance, tread very carefully. I never felt under-powered and only felt over-powered at times I was killing the lowly grunts of the AI with a shotgun or assault rifle. I constantly came up against challenges but none too difficult to overcome with the available load-out, provided I kept a good check on ammo.
One thing I came up against that I didn’t like but appreciated why it was there, was that you had to have line of sight to see the enemy, if there was a pillar in the way they would disappear. Now whether that was a bug or not I don’t know, but it wasn’t my favourite mechanic if it was planned. It spiked the difficulty in some places and caused my death numerous times. Losing line of sight by retreating out of a door only for them to flash up behind you because they followed is annoying. The same would happen with items and it makes for an irritating experience.
I would be remiss if i didn’t discuss how horror was brought in and used to great effect to produce this tense atmosphere. A classic horror film bit is when the main character is walking along and sees a dead body on the ground, they carry on walking only to find out they need to go back the other way, they walk past where the dead body was, and it’s gone. Absolutely “classic” which I blurted out in sheer joy, and then to my dismay when I opened a door and was attacked by what was that dead body. Along with that there are plenty of loud noise jump scares and an underlying music piece that just increases the tension and urgency at the right moments.
The retro-style for the visuals was absolutely the right choice, it pits this game in the very era that it wishes to emulate and does so in great fashion. The scan lines running across the screen puts this filter over the game that makes you believe you can be watching this unfold on an old standard definition CRT screen. That being said it isn’t a bad looking game, it looks good whilst looking bad, if that even makes sense. By bad I just mean it looks a bit older, which was the plan.
My favourite moment came when I first took drugs, in the game of course, and the complete aesthetic changed to this bright, colourful LSD stylised gore fest. It was a refreshing change of pace and provided great moments.
Garage is a competent top down shooter that is both fun and interesting to play. The paced story delivery was the right way to go, the visual design is fantastic, and it accomplished what it set out to do, recreate the VHS era B-movies style. The items and enemies disappearing constantly took me out of the game on numerous occasions but if you can tolerate that, this is an enjoyable light horror to jump into.
OVERALL: 7.3/10 – GOOD
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Garage, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)