Drumskulls PreviewBy Stephen Johnson - Posted Sep 16, 2010
One of the great things about the Penny Arcade Expo is the opportunity to dig around the indie game aisles and find something cool that you'd never heard of before, a diamond in the gaming rough. While this year's big news was the revelation that Duke Nukem Forever is going to come out before 2025 (supposedly), the convention floor was littered with small, no tiny, games that each offered something unique and cool. Drumskulls, an indie game from Andrew Laing, was premeiring at PAX, and it offers an intriguing new use for the plastic drum peripherals no doubt hogging up your living room at this very moment, as well as the timeless allure of beating the hell out of hordes of zombies.
Drumskulls combines two great tastes -- playing drums and killing monsters -- into one on-rails action gaming experience. The way-pre-Alpha build shown at PAX allows you to murder packs of undead by playing drums -- both Rock Band and Guitar Hero kits will work. The simple gameplay work like so: If you see a red zombie coming for your brains, light him up with some taps on the red drum, and so on for the rest of the drum spectrum. It's a little like Typing of the Dead, but with drumming. Call it "Percussion of the Dead," if you'd like.
It's not really a rhythm game, as you don't have to keep time to kill the undead. The mechanics are like a more visceral, physical button mashing beat-em-up than like Rock Band. The levels on display at PAX were more of a tech demo than a polished game, but you got the idea and can grasp the potential quick. The stage I played was a drive-in movie theater beset by the undead, who shamble towards you to eat your flesh, and must be dispatched with drum playing antics.
How it will play over a longer game remains to be seen, and it would perhaps add something to the experience if certain levels required you to keep time to kill enemies, but overall, it's a promising game that I hope sees the light of day outside of the Pax convention floor.
The picture below shows off The Grim Repurcussionist, a sneak peak at one of Drumskull's bosses. Boo! Scary!