Nom Nom Apocalypse – Just Like KFC, Tasty but Hollow
I struggle to think of any action game or twin-stick shooter that has food as a theme throughout it. In fact, the only games that spring to mind that involve food in any way are Battle Chef Brigade and Overcooked!, both of which are extremely different experiences from ‘Nom Nom Apocalypse’. A twin-stick shooter that is set during a fast-food apocalypse, it aims to serve up accessible and entertaining shooter gameplay where players encounter hordes of tasty-but-deadly treats.
There isn’t much to say when it comes to the game’s narrative, because there isn’t one. Starting the game shows a very brief cutscene of a microwave in a diner, which explodes, causing a catastrophic chain of events. The diner is destroyed, and it’s up to the player to defeat the army of edible baddies the malfunctioning appliance has released.
There are times when gameplay makes up for a non-existent plot. This is not one of them. Nom Nom Apocalypse rushes the player from level to level, without any hint of what is going on. The game’s characters are summed up entirely by their appearance, and while the enemy design has its fair share of humour and charm, that same humour and charm is absent from every other department which could have benefited from it. We don’t get to know our characters, which is a shame as even simple humourous bios for each character would have been sufficed.
Gameplay is classic twin-stick run-and-gun fare, with players moving with the controller’s left stick, aiming with the right, and shooting with the right trigger. You’re also able to use special abilities, dodge roll, switch weapons and reload. It’s very similar to numerous other games, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At least the controls were intuitive enough that I could pick up Nom Nom and play it immediately.
The majority of player’s time with Nom Nom will be spent shooting delicious (and sometimes confusing) baddies, encountering locked areas, then venturing off in search of a key for said locked areas, shooting more baddies, then returning to the locked area to use that same key. At the end of each level, you’ll encounter a boss monster, whether it be a giant kebab, noodle-and-chopstick abomination or another kind of greasy kaiju.
I have to say at this point that moving from scene to scene in a level is extremely awkward, as your character teleports forward a slight distance, with the game fading to black during these transitions. It’s absolutely horrid to look at, and literally anything else would have been better.
The boss fights come so close to hitting the mark, but like many other aspects of the game, they ultimately fall flat. Boss fights are usually bullet-hell moments, where the screen is littered with slow-but-deadly projectiles. The patterns are extremely simple, and even before you unlock certain perks and abilities, you’re able to waltz through them – you might as well not dodge and simply spam attacks.
When bosses die, they fall to the ground in a rather unspectacular fashion. The “Kebabshee” doesn’t let out one last shriek, hell, it doesn’t even explode with tabbouleh or bleed garlic sauce. I’ve faced many giant mutant kebabs on nights out to know when I rise to the challenge and absolutely annihilate one, there is garlic sauce and tabbouleh everywhere. I might be slightly digressing here, but my point is that each and every boss encounter is anti-climactic, and missing humour in a way that feels like Deadleaf Games ran out of ideas or didn’t have the follow-through that Nom Nom’s bosses really needed.
Much like the gameplay, Nom Nom’s soundtrack is enjoyable at first but begins to grate on the player after a while. This is because identically to the gameplay, the soundtrack repeats ad nauseam – a shame given how much fun it is when you first hear it.
Levels sometimes have a common theme running throughout them in Nom Nom. There is a school which is full of candy and sweets, the enemies featuring liquorice all-sorts that shoot choc bullets as well as enormous, heavily armoured gobstoppers that shed layers of candy until they are defeated. Other times, enemies and levels are seemingly tossed together like a gross salad where ingredients don’t compliment each other in the slightest. Perhaps Deadleaf felt some enemies were necessary in multiple levels due to the way they engage with the player. Whatever the case, I was questioning why pizza, candy, and strange unidentifiable foods were inhabiting a sewer.
There isn’t much more to say about Nom Nom Apocalypse. I enjoyed my time with it at first, but eventually grew to become rather neutral about it. It isn’t a bad game, though it never quite lives up to its potential. It certainly does show how much a one-man independent can achieve, it’s just not going to go down as a classic or even a rival to its twin-stick peers.
Nom Nom Apocalypse was reviewed on the PC with code kindly supplied by Deadleaf games.
Formerly the editor of Sticky Trigger and CritDMG, Nick has over 6 years of experience as a journalist and content creator. Loves retro and nostalgic visual and sound design, and should probably finish at least one of those games he picked up in the Steam Summer Sale.