Atherton Haight, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-9840678-0-0
Zombocalypse Now is a Choose Your Own Adventure type of gamebook, which means you do not have to keep score of your characters’ stats or roll die during combat encounters. Just sit back, relax, and turn the pages. This is no kid’s stroll in the park, however. This gamebook combines all the tropes you can associate with zombie flicks and tosses you right into the heat of the carnage.
You are a stuffed bunny (don’t ask) that starts the show by waiting for your blind date to arrive. A dissembling zombie with bad body odor problem shows up and it’s downhill from there as you scramble to avoid not only zombies but also stupid monsters of the human kind. As advertised on the front cover, there are 112 endings, of which “at least 7” will allow your bunny hide to remain intact.
Zombocalypse Now combines the best of both worlds: very effective humor and a nudge-wink tribute to your favorite zombie flicks. There are many hilarious situations here reminiscent of JH Brennan’s wacky take on sword and sorcery in his Grailquest gamebook series. The whole thing is way too much fun. While there are exceptions, most of the options offered follow the principles of common sense – which is to say, if you don’t do anything stupid, you may live. Still, dying in this book is hilarious.
For parents reading this review wondering whether the kids should read this, I can tell you that there is no cuss word and no sexual element present. But we have brain-eating zombies here, along with an occasional scene of graphic gore (at one point, your character digs at his empty skull to eat the remnants of his brain). Perhaps you should flick through the pages first to make up your mind before passing it to the kids. But your kids will love this stuff, I’d tell you that.
It is great to see gamebooks still being produced in this time and age, and a gamebook enthusiast like me can’t be any happier with Zombocalypse Now, especially when it’s such an entertaining trip from its start to its many finishes. When is the next gamebook coming out?