Nom Nom Apocalypse is a twinstick shooter set in a post-apocalyptic city plagued by mutant food monstrosities.Shoot! dodge and OUTLAST the plague of greasy beasts and candy creatures that lurk around every unknown corner.
Publisher: Deadleaf Games
Reviewed on: PC
Also available for: NA
Developer: Deadleaf Games
Created, Designed and Developed: Josh Sacco
Dylan: For a game made by a solo developer at Deadleaf Games, Nom Nom Apocalypse is creatively impressive but held back by several bugs and a rather repetitive gameplay loop. However, since the two of us played in co-op the latter wasn’t as detrimental to the overall experience.
It took us a bit over four hours to beat Nom Nom Apocalypse, which we played in ‘local multiplayer’ thanks to Steams ‘Remote Play’ feature and, for the most part, I would say I enjoyed the experience.
It’s a basic twin-stick shooter that doesn’t do anything particularly new or fresh but will satisfy those seeking a new game in the genre. The draw here is the inventive creature designs which are all based on food. Often we’d be yelling “what the hell is that?!” Entering a level for the first time which was exciting as we spotted doughnut-flying bats or hamburgers on the attack.
Ciaran: The variety of creatures that filled out the screen was quite impressive. Enemy designs ranged from your the basic cheeseburger to some kind of rum-ball that randomly popped up in our final playthrough. It was this random element which helped the repetitive element of the game flow and not hamper our experience. Even after playing the same level several times, we were still finding new creature types that would change up the flow of the game.
On top of these creatures, there is a list of possible bosses to finish the first four levels before facing the final boss at the end of the fifth. These bosses are chosen at random and even in our final run, we played against a teleporting cookie that we had never seen before. These bosses range in difficulty which can lead to easier or harder runs depending on which bosses you get.
Dylan: Yeah, the bosses were weird. I’m still not sure if we saw them all but I’m assuming so since it took us several runs to get to the final level.
That’s right: several runs. This is a pseudo-rogue-lite where you play through five stages and attempt to not see the game over screen before the credits.
Although the first level and last levels are the same, the ones in between were a dice-roll and the design of those levels, the guns we’d find, enemy types etc were all randomly generated. There’s not much difference in the overall design of any of the levels though, you’d pick up a key, open a gate, fight several rooms of enemies and eventually hit the boss.
The big change each run we did was with the guns we’d find — which are all utensil and food-based obviously — and then the power-ups we’d assign our characters with the money we’d earned on that run. For the most part, I’d say over half the guns I deemed crap very quickly and tried to find the same ones, particular a freezing shotgun, and then half the abilities you could buy also proved to be useless I thought.
Ciaran: As you mention equipping power-ups for each character, there is a roster full of different characters all with different abilities and super abilities. We both tried playing a range of these characters but I think both of us quickly found that some of the characters abilities and super were just not that great compared to others.
On top of that, there is a range of perks to purchase from the money your collecting on your runs. These perks can range from the ability to gain health when picking up cash or as quirky as a pigeon that follows you around shooting enemies. We quickly found that the quirkier perks were generally not that great, yes the pigeon was not that useful despite my claims it carried us to our first run win. I believe both of us quickly forwent the quirky perks and stuck with pretty standard bonuses.
With these quirks, and honestly with much of the game it was unclear if the game was truly designed and balanced for single-player or for local coop play. In one instance I selected a magnet perk that describes itself as attracting pickups to you, but we soon realised it meant all pickups (ammo, health and cash) were floating straight to me and Dylan could not pick anything up.
Dylan: I gave a quick run solo to see if going alone was actually the easier route and it appears so, which means the game is just weirdly balanced. Even on a fresh save with no power-ups unlocked I’d say solo would be way easier simply because of the lack of resource sharing and the fact your ultimate seems to just charge way faster when you get to deal all the damage.
That said I’m not against the co-op mode being purposely designed to be a bigger challenge, it just doesn’t seem like that’s the intent and instead how all the pieces fell together.
This seems to be a case where less-is-more would have seen huge improvements. Fewer characters, but better balanced and designed; fewer power-ups, but make then all equally useful and give a better risk/reward emphasis to the rogue-lite systems.
Ciaran: I completely agree. It really is a case of quality over quantity. I think some of the quirky character designs and perks are fantastic but just make them rewarding for me to use. I believe we both knew before we purchased the pigeon perk that it was not going to be useful, having more time to focus on and balance would avoid this feeling.
With this approach, I think this would free up more time to focus on the variety in levels throughout the whole piece. Each level had the same rhythm as you have already suggested which is counterproductive towards the games core mechanic. The game is designed to be played multiple times over, you need more than just different enemies to make the experience feel new even after the tenth-run.