Three Dead Zed is a side-scrolling action platformer that puts you in control of an experimental zombie. This game follows the trend started by Trine and continued most recently with Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, whereby you are able to switch characters on the fly to tackle puzzles. Your experimental zombie can transform into three unique forms. The Classic is your normal zombie, capable of eating brains and lifting small objects. He's the only one that can use switches and climb ladders. The Sprinter is weak, but extremely fast and nimble, with the ability to wall-jump, but lacking any means of attack. The Brute is very slow, but incredibly strong, able to take a lot of damage, lift heavy objects, and smash walls (or humans).
While this may sound like a zombified Trine, it's not. Whereas in Trine you could tackle puzzles with almost any character, rendering switching relatively unnecessary, in Three Dead Zed, switching between the three zombies is absolutely essential. Once you pass the introductory levels that introduce you to each form, it is impossible to complete a level without utilizing all three forms at some point. The stages are relatively open, allowing you to choose which way to go first, but each puzzle has just one solution. While you may have liked being able to tackle puzzles in multiple ways in Trine, Three Dead Zed's approach doesn't feel limiting at all – in fact, it fits perfectly with the style of game developer Gentleman Squid Studio is going for.
The other major difference between Three Dead Zed and Trine that you'll notice immediately is the graphics. Whereas Trine is rendered in gorgeous 2.5D, Three Dead Zed is totally 2D, featuring hand drawn characters and environments. The zombies themselves are oddly cute in a grotesque sort of way. And speaking of grotesque, Three Dead Zed is a much more violent game, as one would probably guess from the zombie theme – though it's more humorous as well. Lastly, Three Dead Zed features a lot more cats... in tin foil hats.
Comparing Three Dead Zed to one of the most popular action platformers in recent years may seem a bit unjust, but the similarities cannot be dismissed. That being said, I've touched on quite a few major differences between the two that definitely makes Three Dead Zed stand on its own merit. Furthermore, comparing it to a game that has sold over a million copies and enjoys a Metacritic score of 80 for the PC version, while saying it can hold its own against it, should be seen as quite the endorsement. I don't know how long the game is (the demo is relatively short), and it was a bit annoying that the controls could not be customized (at least not in the demo), but those are minor qualms to an otherwise brilliantly done action platformer. If you want to play as zombies, slaughtering humans and saving cats, Three Dead Zed is clearly your game. You can grab the demo from the official site.