Remember Evan's E3 preview of Rock of the Dead from a few months back? Where you could strum specific note patterns to shoot zombies? The problem with that, according to Andrew Laing, creator of the new, never-seen-before-PAX title Drumskulls, is that Rock of the Dead didn't deviate far enough from the Rock Band/Guitar Hero formula. Despite having zombies as a backdrop, it's still very much in the "music game" genre. Drumskulls is not. It's all about shootin' some zombies... with your plastic drum set.
I had a chance to try out Drumskulls at PAX, and I dug it. It's by a company that's so grassroots indie that they don't have a website yet. They don't even have a name. Andrew Laing is the man in charge, however, and you can expect some big things from him.
So, the zombies marching toward you on the screen are four different colors. To shoot a zombie of a particular color, you hit that drum (it'll be compatible with any Rock Band/Guitar Hero drumset). Despite their slow zombie pace, when a dozen differently colored zombies are coming toward you at the same time, it's gets really intense. Each drum hit is one shot, and each zombie takes multiple blasts to finish off. Hitting a drum pad to shoot a zombie is very visceral; it's quite a different experience than merely using a gamepad. The bass pedal will be implemented in the final product somehow, too, but it wasn't quite ready to be used in the version I tried out at PAX.
The game is on-rails, but there are plenty of secrets to discover; one in particular I found was a red dumpster that you blow away to open a hidden path through the level. The game is still very early in development (they stayed up until 4 a.m. coding the last level, in fact - that's so indie!), and they don't even have a publisher or a platform to release the game on yet. It's situated to be a downloadable title, though, and it's looking good so far.
Check out some gameplay footage from the show floor (and don't mind the dork on the drums - that's just me):
I also got in tight with Mr. Laing and he sent me some WORLD-EXCLUSIVE SCREENSHOTS that you won't see anywhere else, including this one of the never-before-seen Baron Samedi:
Believe it or not, this is one of the good guys. Baron Samedi is your mentor in the game world, and the Commander of the Drumskulls. There weren't a lot of details regarding the storyline released, but Laing confirmed that the game would feature seven levels, as well as boss fights. Stay tuned here for more news on the game, and look for it on various downloadable services (XBLA? PSN? WiiWare?) if and when the game gets picked up by a publisher. Until then, enjoy some screenshots that you won't find anywhere else: