At its most basic level, Stubbs the Zombie is a relatively simple game. You play the titular monster, and you need to eat your way through the art deco utopia of Punchbowl. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, after the first couple of levels, you’ve been introduced to all the abilities and powers that Stubbs has at his disposal. You can throw your internal organs as explosives, throw your head like a bowling ball, and detach your arm to possess regular humans. And of course, you can pass gas as an area-of-effect stun attack.
This lack of growth creates a very bizarre difficulty curve. Most of the experience is trivially easy. The environments change and the number of baddies increases, but that final portion is brutal. Enemies suddenly become damage sponges, and Stubbs loses a lot more health seemingly out of nowhere. This is the biggest issue with the game, ultimately. The last few levels are an absolute slog and almost completely strip away any of the charm or strangeness present at the start.
This applies mechanically, too. There are so many strange one-off moments earlier in the game, like a rhythm game, or a stealth segment to perpetrate a jail-break. This is all stripped away and reduced to a series of hallways with enemy after enemy to chomp through, and that’s about it. Possessing enemies and using their guns to kill soldiers and scientists helps a little bit, but it doesn’t take long to stop being fun.
These are all problems that were present in the title upon its 2005 launch, so the port can only do so much. With this in mind, the game is solid — stable frame rate, the assets look as good as they possibly could without an overhaul, and the modernised controls are a demonstrable improvement. Hit detection is a little sluggish, but it's worth the price of entry for getting a peek at such an oddity. While saying the game lacks focus could be construed as an insult, it’s truly fascinating to see a game made with, for its time, such a high level of quality that wears so many different hats. And for that, we appreciate the opportunity to experience it in the modern era.