PS4 | School Girl/Zombie Hunter Review


I open up my business e-mail one day and I receive a review code for a game I had actually never heard of, "School Girl/Zombie Hunter".  I always like to do my best to review whatever I am entrusted with, so I decide to go ahead and boot up the game.

Cool introduction, decent premises for the game... I mean its got school girls and zombies.  Despite all of that, I can never make heads or tails of a game until I actually play it through its entirety and see what it has to offer; this game is no different.


 Getting Started 


School Girl/Zombie Hunter will cost you $39.99 when you go to buy it from the Playstation Store.  Also, it has a download of 1.7 GB; fairly small for a game download.

 Official Description 
Set in the Onechanbara universe and taking place at the prestigious “Kirisaku High School” (known for its balanced curriculum of sports and academics), this is a story of survival: five students cut off from the outside world and surrounded by a seemingly endless flood of ravening zombie hordes.
Find the source of the undead infestation, annihilate them with overpowering weaponry and fashionable undergarments, and put an end to this crisis.

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1 player
Network Players 2-5 - Full game requires PlayStation®Plus membership to access online multiplayer
DUALSHOCK®4
Online Play (Optional)


 Campaign 

The heroines talking after the first "Base Defense" mission

 Story 
The story of this game is fairly straight-forward; five girls who attend Kirisaku High School come under attack by hordes of zombies, seemingly being the only ones who are alive after the blitzkrieg of undead.  They band together in hopes of increasing their chance of survival while waiting for the ZPF (Zombie Protection Force) to send them a rescue helicopter.  However, they discover a nefarious plot and realize more is amidst than meets the eye.

I am going to be truthfully honest with you; my first impression of this game was that it is very cheesy in dialogue.  It has the typical ongoing anime-like monologue where friendship and love seemingly overpowers everything else; but that was actually not so bad.  Despite the girls looking out for one another and the "main" protagonist of the story overly optimistic attitude influencing others, it was easy to get wrapped up into it as you progressed further along.

Despite the plot itself being fairly simple, and questions remaining unanswered as to why or how things turned out like they did (origin story of the main antagonist), the core aspect of "facing your true self and growing stronger" shines incredibly bright.  In some ways it reminds me of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 in how each character faces their own demons while also trying to figure out what they should be doing next.

This story is less about figuring out what is going on and more about each character coming into their own and realizing their strengths and weaknesses.  Leaving who they were within the past and focusing on how to be better in the present, all while fighting zombies and figuring out how to escape with their life.  I think those who are into anime, especially shoujo, will enjoy the story for what it is as long as they give it time to charm them regardless of its obvious flaws, pacing, and generic themes.

 Missions 
This game has "Chapters" and each one of those chapters are broken up into "Missions".  The way they are numbered depends on what chapter and what missions there are; examples include 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, etc.  Also, after the story missions for each chapter, bonus missions will become available to be played; examples include 1-A, 1-B, 1-C, etc.  Unlike the story missions, these sub missions give different cinematics dependent on the character used; perfect example is finishing sub mission "1-D Besiegement", Rei is shown receiving a brand new weapon while Enami gets a coffee maker.  In these submissions, the girls must go and retrieve a "care package" that the ZPF has sent over to help sustain them while they are trying to wait for rescue; they provide some of the best look into the character's likes, dislikes, and their origins.

Each mission is named, has a description, shows the high score/time completed, if there are any "Charons" (will explain this in the "Customization" section) or not, your current ranking, if it is a main or sub mission, and which characters are available to use (once you clear a mission, you will be able to use any character you want to complete it; except for "Covering Fire" missions where one girl is predetermined to be the one you are protecting).  You also have certain "types" of missions (Fetch, Eradication, Base Defense, Covering Fire, Card Key, and Maze).

You will find that there are enough mission types to give variety as you play through, so while you are basically within the same few locations (schoolyard, gym, school building, etc) the different missions give each a new experience (you will even be glad  you know the map layout to make it easier... because you will need that knowledge later on).

Missions seemed to be based primarily on time, items used, and damage taken.  The highest rank is "SSS" and the hardest trophy in the game revolves around getting the best rating on each mission on normal and hard mode.

You will also find that after missions they show character used, their level, Rank (A, S, SSS, etc.), EXP, Kills, High Score, Score Bonus (No Team Deaths, Triple Kills, Lady Destroyer, etc.), and Clear Time.


 Main Characters 

Sayuri Akiha; starting weapon is a Handgun

Risa Kubota; her starting weapon is an Assault Rifle

Mayaya Himeji; her starting weapon is an SMG

Enami Kamijo; her starting weapon is a Sniper Rifle

Rei Kanazaki; her starting weapon is a Shotgun

These are the 5 main protagonist to the School Girl/Zombie Hunter story. They have their own personalities and way of thinking, but you see each one does evolve over the course of the campaign. Each of them also fit into what I consider a "classic" archetype, but you will have to play the game to find out.

My favorite character is beyond a doubt Mayaya Himeji. I love her look (extremely cute and short), her personality is the best out of all of them (due to my own preferences of course), and her default weapon is definitely my favorite gun archetype ever; the submachine gun.

Each of these characters also have a different special ability that will be useful dependent on the stage and mission type.  They also have different HP and Stamina ratings (Stamina is used for evading, running, and melee attacks), you will find them to rise once your character's level goes up, which will increase after you gain XP from mission completions.  You will see these little tool tips when selecting "profile", and looking at the lower right-hand corner of the screen that is just beneath the character model.

Last but not least, each of these girl's melee is based upon which club they happen to be a part of (such as Baseball, Kendo, Karate, etc.).  You will be able to get different attacks or weapons dependent on who you are using (more about this explained in the "customization" section).


 Gameplay and Controls 


 Controls 
One thing I will commend this game on is taking time to actually teach you the controls by dedicating the first chapter to really teaching the player about what they should be doing.  They do this by giving you a very basic tutorial that covers the game's mechanics, then they dedicate an individual mission to each of the five girls that you are going to be playing for the duration of SGZH.  Also, as you progress you will unlock a few more mechanics that will be vital for survival, explanation and utilization of these are key to passing harder stages.

While it might not mean much to those of you who are replying missions to try and find "Charons" or replying things on hard, tool tips do not change.

Controls in this game do not feel good initially, at least at their default setting.  My recommendation is to play through the first mission and see how you like what they have set as their norm, changing things as you see fit in order to better incorporate how you think you will play (I know I did and I am happy for it).  After you are use to the game, things come naturally and you will find yourself making it through easily and taking advantage of all actions that are available to you.

 Gameplay 

Combat is fast paced and feels particularly pleasing when you are dismembering zombies from striking their appendages.  Melees that strike more than one zombie at a time give off a satisfying sound, and even explosions add a dynamic experience.  Knocking down doors, blowing out windows, and random blood splatters (though they don't actually stay on your character) add to the entire game.

Though it should be noted that "stamina" is required for evading, melee, and running; managing this can be key to surviving in tougher areas in the game.  However, seeing as zombies spawn out of thin air the minute you dispatch one, it might be wise for you to practice dismembering the zombies' legs in order to give yourself as much time as possible to rebuild your stamina (as a tip, "Risa" has the most amount of stamina out of any of the characters, but the lowest health).

Something else I want to really talk about is aiming within this game; it feels clunky at first.  However, as you begin to progress and grab guns that have a better accuracy rating (S and above there was a noticeable difference), it feels TONS better.  Sniping and headshots are still going to be hard to manage, mostly because it will still be clunky regardless of it being smoother.  Outside of "Covering Fire" missions, you will not really depend on accuracy to take things down as you begin to get better guns.

A good gameplay tip is using your "evade" to cancel animations for reload and shooting.  You will notice after shooting you will take a second before you can do another action or even begin to run, reloading makes you finish the complete animation.  You want to cancel into an evade the second you are done shooting and the second your magazine in your gun has been refilled.

Items in this game are fairly useful; you have Grenades, Healing Rations (large and smile), Tripwires, AED (for reviving), and Panty Traps.  All of these things are extremely useful as long as you know how to use them, though you will find use for some more than others dependent on the stage.  Another note that is useful is though the "AED" item can be used to revive a dying teammate (CPU in campaign and another player online), it can also bring you back to life if you happen to die while still carrying one; though I would advise to use on another player since it restores 100% of their health while only restoring around 25% of yours if you die.  You gain more of these items by killing zombies within a level and depending on them for random drops (items also do not carry over between missions).

While the game could be more refined, the options they give you help to keep it interesting and not too hard (at least on the normal setting).  I enjoyed using everything available to me, as while I figured somethings will not be a problem as the game starts off remarkably easy, it gets tougher later and requires you to know what you have on you and what can be used to make completing your objective easier.


 Customization 


Despite me liking their default school uniforms, there are other things to spice up how the girls look in the game.  You have different hair and underwear colors, shoes, outfits, and even melee items (club items) that you can find for our heroines.

As you progress through the game, you will find that some missions have little birds within the description that are known as "Charons"; there are typically 5 per mission that have them.  Charons will allow you to unlock different types of hair colors as well as underwear colors for the protagonists.  Once you find one, you will have to shoot them so that it counts; your character will say a special line of dialogue confirming that you got it (i.e., Mayaya will say, "Is that a special Zom-Zom?!").  I have found that the hitbox on charons can be a bit wonky, so you have to wait for the aiming reticle to turn red to make sure you are actually going to hit it.  It should also be noted that you do not actually have to finish a level you have shot a charon in for it to count, simply pause and select "retire" and it will retain that you shot it (along with worn underwear time).

Though charons will not allow you to find new outfits or shoes.  The only way to find clothing is by searching very little nook and cranny to make sure that they are not hidden; they could be behind an opened door, inside of a bathroom stall, or at the very back of a dead-end passageway.  Unlike charons however, you are required to actually finish the stage in question to receive the reward you have found.

Only thing I had a problem with are the melee weapons and moves (club attacks).  It took me a while to actually find out how to get them, and I found that by playing with certain people during Sub missions, you will unlock a new club attack (if they do not use a weapon) or a new weapon.  The problem is that you will literally have to play every single Sub mission with every available girl and then check to see whether or not you earned one after you are done; it is a painstaking experience that is not worth the trouble.

The only downside to this is there are not a ton of costumes or shoes, there is enough, but it will mostly be different color variations of the same 4 or so outfits you can acquire within the game.

 NOTE  — Mayaya's ability of "Super Intuition" allows her to find charons and outfits/shoes hidden within the level, so it is best to replay every stage (there are none on bonus stages, only Main missions) with her to make sure you have not missed anything.

Also so you can admire as well as take screenshots and pictures of the girls in their new outfit (or underwear), holding the gun of your choice, there is a "3D model viewer" mode available by pushing "R3" down on the right thumbstick.


 Weapons and Enemies 


Within School Girl/Zombie Hunter, you will encounter different enemies and different weapons.  What spawns for enemies and drops for weapons is usually random to a degree, though certain ones seemed to be preprogrammed for different stages with more diversity as the game progresses.

 Zombies 
Your enemies during a zombie outbreak are going to be, of course, zombies!  This game has many types that you encounter; while each type is not really that hard to deal with, how they come at you can be the real problem.  Not only that, but the actual number sometimes can feel overwhelming in some of the smaller areas you will have to traverse through.

A few of the types you can expect are; exploding, exploding (poison), those that climb on the ceilings, doglike creatures, hulking brutes, etc.  There is actually a decent variety compared to what you will experience in the first chapter.  Game progression makes the hordes increasingly more annoying and difficult to deal with as certain enemies will take priority over others.  The trick to dealing with this is to always watch out for the ones that poison or explode, while remaining aware of the ones who will not flinch when attempting to melee to gain space.

Something that players should be aware of early on is that there are no pre-determined spawn points or number of enemies for an area.  Zombies literally appear out of thin air and spawn more as you eliminate the current ones; also where they spawn seems to depend on "line of sight" for the player.

Bosses in this game are not too difficult to deal with; you can utilize the "melee to roll" tactic to remain invincible long enough for most attacks to pass through you (considering you have the stamina to do so).  Not to mention for certain "other" bosses, you can easily beat them by using melee every time they get back up or rendering them incapable of fighting back by using "Blast [B]" type weaponry.

Overall the game's zombie hordes make things very fun as they begin to get more difficult and you have to become aware of your surroundings.  Boss fights are not too hard and do not feel like a real challenge considering how easily they can be defeated with easy-to-access tactics due to simple attack patterns.  On the other hand, they are really good for character progression and the dialogue helps to move things along (so they are still enjoyable for that purpose).

 Weapons 

Each character comes with a "School-Issue" weapon that is the very basic model of each of the different types of guns you will find.  There are 6 different types of guns available to you in the game.

Defeating enemies will drop light-blue gun silhouettes with a matching colored circle around them as a question mark hovering above it.  Running over the top of it will say "Unidentified Weapon Obtained", signifying you have gotten a weapon pick-up that will be revealed after the mission has been completed.  It is wise to note that it says "Unidentified Weapon Obtained" regardless of whether-or-not the weapon is actually new, as you can get duplicates (new weapons will be marked with a "new" on the side of it on the mission completed screen).
  • Handgun
  • Assault Rifle
  • Sniper Rifle
  • Shotgun
  • Submachine Gun (SMG)
  • Rocket Launcher
You can carry up to 5 different weapons per character, and you can have multiple of the same weapon type if you prefer to use different variants of the same weapon.  As far as what I mean by "variants", each gun can have different types of "perks" which will allow it to use different things dependent upon what it is.  It should also be noted that some guns carry more than one perk (up to 2 different ones).
  • Strong/Attack Up [ST]
  • Rapid Fire [RF]
  • Quick Reload [QR]
  • Extra Over/Capacity Up [XO]
  • Aim Assist [A] (Usually is always accompanied by another perk)
  • Blast [B]
  • Dismemberment [D]
  • Piercing [P]
  • Accuracy Up [AC]
You will find stronger weapons with different perks as you progress through the game, and I noticed that different chapters seemed better at dropping weapons with a certain perk more than others.  Something to also note about perks is that certain ones will have better rate of fire while some may have better attack, capacity, reload, or even accuracy.  The best way to use these is dependent upon the mission (though, "Dismemberment" is probably better for everything outside of bosses and "Covering Fire" missions).

 NOTE  — "Rocket Launchers" can only be obtained by collecting "Charons"; after every 10th Charon you will unlock one.

To be perfectly honest, they have a decent amount of weapons you can get, but when it comes down to it you will not use everything.  Certain weapons are obviously better than others, and I feel Submachine guns are definitely better than everything else in the game because of burst DPS and reload speed in comparison to damage and rate of fire.

It should be noted that you can give each and every girl a different loadout (even containing multiple of the same weapon archetype), but you cannot have a default loadout to apply to every girl simultaneously.  If you obtain a new gun, you will have to go to that girl and manually set it instead of being able to apply it across everyone at the same time.  The easiest way I found for this process is to give everyone the same type of weapon in the same slots, that way you can quickly push L1 or R1 and move to the next girl, click X, and then simply select the new gun you want to replace the current one with after scrolling up or down the list.


 Online Multiplayer 


Online multiplayer within this game is pretty typical; you team up with others and try to take down zombies and complete objectives in missions that they give you.  Up to 5 people can occupy the room simultaneously, and you can each be different or the same character (so you do not worry about having to pick someone you do not like, low level, or unfamiliar with just because someone locked them in first).  However, this mode has some extremely glaring issues.

The first is that all of the modes available to you are either Survival, Boss, or Base Defense encounters.  With so many different types of mission types available within the core game, you would think that they would at least have Maze, Eradication, and "Find the Key Card" type missions available since up to 5 people can play simultaneously.  Not having a variety of modes available to play is definitely terrible since there are only 10 missions available to be played.

Something else that might bother people is the lack of people.  It is EXTREMELY difficult to find anyone online to play this game with, mostly because it is within a niche genre and most people who play this game are probably fans of Tamsoft and other games that they produce.  Anyone who buys it on a whim who does not know someone or joins a forum or group dedicated to these types of games are going to be hard-pressed to find someone to play with.  I have, at most, found 2 other people to make a grand total of 3 of us in a room at the same time.  Thankfully you really do not need more than 2 people (who are both level 20+) to take down the first 9 missions; but the 10th and final missions is going to require 2 very high level people who 3 people who are at least level 20 and know how to discard their clothes and have maximum time on their panty traps.

Unfortunately, this mode is heavily lacking and that completely kills the replay value of this game after you have completed all Main and Sub missions.  Sure, you can always go back and find all the costumes, charons, and melee weapons; but you have to realize that you can do all those things on normal without even touching the "hard" mode difficulty.  Online multiplayer is where most gamers spend the vast majority of their time nowadays, so having a lacking online feature is a major disadvantage for anyone who wants to get their game sold.  Considering how strongly this game resonated with me once I got use to it and began to like the characters, I am disappointed there is not more to do so I can show off my customizations and put to use the guns I have earned.



 Downloadable Content (DLC) 


The Playstation Store has downloadable content available for School Girl/Zombie Hunter in the way of alternate costumes and avatar items (profile pictures).  Each costume will cost you $0.99 and each avatar is going to run you $0.49.

The costumes are pretty cheap, and so are the profile pictures if you want to sport.  Unfortunately, you do not know what you are going to be purchasing since there are no pictures available for the costumes (so you will have to risk it, but they probably could not put them on the market because more than likely they are too risqué).  Not to mention they have multiple variants of the costume, meaning that you will need to pay an additional $0.99 to get different colors if you do not like the one you have.  Though, they do have the Onechanbara costumes available for fans of the series, which is pretty good.

While they might have some cool costumes, there is no preview to tell.  Not to mention there is not enough replay value, nor is the online multiplayer good enough for you to want to spend money to show off these costumes unless you are content running through the additional difficulty or already have friends or a community that you will play with often.


 The Verdict 


 HALF  - & -  HALF 

  STRENGTHS  — Decent character development, Loaded with CG cutscenes, Ecchi content (but not overly so), Interesting gameplay mechanics (i.e. "Panty Trap"), Awesome opening, Mission variety, Lengthy if you grind for items, and Gun variety.

  WEAKNESSES  — Poor aiming, Lacking multiplayer, No reason to play above Normal difficulty, No explanation of antagonist's origins, Mediocre graphics, Poor overall story, Poor replay value, better costumes are downloadable content, and Grinding for melee weapons is bothersome.


While I really wanted to give this more than just a "Half-&-Half" rating, I could not with the amount that is actually wrong with the game.  Yes, it does have its own charm and I find the more you play it, the more you will like it; but the replay value is so low that the game will be nearly over by the time that feeling sets in (and you do not have multiplayer that is good enough to tack on tens of hours onto the game).

True, I had a blast playing the game and getting to the very end, figuring out all of the sub missions, and unlocking new costumes, weapons, and mechanics; however, the glaring weaknesses were too much to pass by.  I could not outright recommend this game to other players because of how bad the aiming mechanics are (despite having guns with "Aim Assist" as their perks), the graphics, terrible multiplayer, lack of people to play with online, and cheesy dialogue that only appeals to a very niche otaku audience.

Honestly, I had low expectations for this game going in, but it surprised me immensely.  School Girl/Zombie Hunter charmed me, and I wish there were more to do so I could have more time with it; though I will probably attempt to "Platinum" trophy this game just so I can have more time with it.  I feel with the right love, updates, and DLC this could be a potentially great game, but it is lacking all too much in its current state.  On the other hand, I find those who enjoyed the Onechanbara series may want to give this a go because they will undoubtedly enjoy it from the start, not to mention it is based in the same universe.

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