Action Review Rogue-Like

ED-0: Zombie Uprising – Review

ED-0: Zombie Uprising is the latest title from D3Publisher, the minds behind the cult “Simple Series” which spawned titles such as Onechanbara and Earth Defence Force. Does this shuffling corpse have the chance to be another cult classic? Let’s find out!

Mr ED-0

ED-0: Zombie Uprising is set in the Edo period in Japan and sees you take the mantle of a Samurai. You’re wandering through a forest when you’re attacked by Zombies. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t end well for you and you end up trapped in the roguelike purgatory that sets up the gameplay loop.

The story is fairly minimalist here and cutscenes are told via static screens using in-game assets. While it’s worth remembering this comes from a house of budget games, the game does have some nice key art. It’s just a shame that it isn’t used over static shots created with in-game assets.

ED-0: Zombie Uprising - Reincarnation

R:ED0 – Village

The main Village where you set up camp has various NPCs wandering around you can chat to. That said, the dialogue doesn’t offer that much in terms of “lore” or much of anything. ED-0: Zombie Uprising is Early Access, so this may be updated as time goes on.

The gameplay is what I think is going to throw a lot of people off when it comes to ED-0. It looks like a Hack and Slash. You could look at it and almost imagine a soulsborne meets Oneechanbara and you’d be forgiven for thinking so. In reality, it’s got more in common with a subgenre of Roguelikes than Bikini Zombie Slayers or Elden Ring.

BushiD-0 BladE

First of all, let’s tackle the combat which is my biggest bugbear with the title. It’s sloppy, has zero feedback, doesn’t work properly, and was downright unenjoyable throughout.

You have a light and heavy attack, a dodge roll with few if any invincibility frames, an awkward jump, and the ability to find special attacks or use items. This is a fairly bog-standard set of abilities for a game involving the act of hacking and/or slashing.

There is a heavy lean on the ability to not only pick up and use items but also throw them and release various effects. It’s very similar to another series that this game seemingly takes its actual inspiration from; Mystery Dungeon.

Now while the above all sounds fine and above board, the denizens of the Undead that you’ll be trying to cut down aren’t fazed by stuff like a Katana to the face. Unless you knock them down, there is 0 hit-stun on these shambling corpses.

Again the above would be fine if this game wasn’t trying so hard to be “difficult”. The zombies cut through your health like butter and you’ll end up running around them and triggering one of the many traps of the procedurally generated dungeons you have to suffer.

Is it a Mystery?

Adopting a more careful style of play, learning what items do what and how best to use your special moves is the best way to tackle this title. But at some point, you’ll ask yourself why you’re bothering. The core combat just feels so darn janky and stiff to use with little to no feedback or gratification for doing so.

Now I’m a casual fan of Mystery Dungeon titles and not just the Pokémon ones. I’ve enjoyed titles such as Chocobo Mystery Dungeon and Shiren the Wanderer. But they all had a more strategic feel to them – one which isn’t present in this muddy third-person title with lite hack and slash combat.

Over time you’ll build up spirits and coins to buy abilities. You can get stronger starting strength, more health, and more. Anything to give you an advantage will help when you want to chip away at either the main story missions or the handful of side quests. The issue here lies in the amount required compared to what stays with you beyond death. It means a ton of grinding!

Talking of dying, if you haven’t guessed you’ll do it a lot. Sometimes out of overconfidence, at other times due to some trap you’ve not seen. Or there’s the standard running into a horde of zombies or tougher foes.

During my playtime, I died often. This happened much more consistently than other games of its kind which married with the naff combat and insane grind left a sour taste in my mouth.

If you soldier through enough of the title you can unlock a rather overpowered Sumo character who seems to make light work of the undead. You do have to play through a decent chunk of the game as the redundant Samurai to get him though.

ED-0: Zombie Uprising - Talk

Simple Series?

Graphically ED-0: Zombie Uprising is exactly what you would expect from D3Publisher. It’s a title that doesn’t look like it would have impressed on the PlayStation 2 never mind anything a little more modern.

The procedural nature of the maps means that while they follow a theme such as a forest and it does that quite well, it lacks any real standout design. Often stuff just seems plonked onto the map with little rhyme or reason.

Animations are stiff and are distinctly generations behind, as are a lot of the visual effects such as explosions. As this is a budget title from a budget developer I can somewhat forgive this, but this title lacks any of the charm that previous titles from the publisher had. It’s a crying shame.


ED-0: Zombie Uprising is still in Early Access, so a good chunk of content still isn’t there. Tweaks are made on a near-weekly basis and I do feel there are some good bones within this title.

To counter that thought process though, I struggled to have much fun with this particular build of the game. It felt more like a punishing grind that tries to emulate the difficulty of Souls and Mystery Dungeon without anything that makes those games work on a fundamental level. 

It’s a letdown when you have a solid idea such as Zombies and Samurai with some strong genres to cherry-pick from. I’m hoping that the extra time in the oven can bake this into a decent title rather than staying on its current path and cremating the corpse made of “good bones”.


Platforms: Steam (PC)

If you would like to see more Action games, you may be interested in our review of The House of the Dead: Remake.

Many thanks go to D3 Publisher for a PC review code for this title.

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