Undead, pixelated gore and intense action make Garage: Bad Trip a solid shooter for horror fans. And no, it’s not “Hotline Miami with zombies.”

Garage: Bad Trip is a gory, raw and often crude top-down shooter for fans of the VHS era of horror and splatterpunk.

It draws you in with the campy premise of a stoner janitor fighting the undead in an underground research facility, and the promises of pixelated blood but the bucketful.

You then keep going thanks to the intense action and great music, even when enemies and encounters begin to repeat themselves.

My first instinct is to label the game as a slower, less trippy Hotline Miami with zombies and call it a day. But that’s not the case.

The similarities are pretty obvious, from the superb pixel art visuals to the mix of range and melee weapons that leave heaps of mangled bodies. But Garage actually plays completely differently.

Levels are not puzzles you need to solve with quick reflexes and blunt weaponry, but gauntlets of carnage. Shooting, slashing and shredding your way through them is the best part of the game.

These levels range between an underground garage to an underground research facility and even an underground prison. Despite what you may think, Garage’s color palate goes beyond concrete gray. You’ll see blood red, chemical green, electricity blue and even sinister purple.

Exploring these environments is pretty nice. Everything is presented in great-looking pixel art that is surprisingly detailed. While they do seem a bit samey at times and some levels drag on a little too long, I never wanted to stop moving forward – mostly thanks to the gameplay.

Garage: Bad Trip review - mini boss

The mix of slow survival horror and all-out action shooting works surprisingly well. Tons of games combine horror and action with various results, but Garage manages to find a delicate balance and stick to it.

You’ll go from feeling outgunned and outnumbered to feeling like an unbeatable action hero and back again a few times throughout the game. The schlocky, splatterpunk vibe remains through it all, so if that’s your thing (like it is mine), you’ll enjoy both sides.

I’ll admit the horror parts aren’t horrifying; they are just gory. But the sense of dread and helplessness hangs heavy throughout all of them. You never can tell when a group of zombies will burst through a door and sent you running backward in a narrow corridor, wildly swinging your axe. And every time you feel like you’re getting the hang of things, the game ramps up the challenge.

The horror might not be scary, but the action is addicting. There’s a nice if a bit standard arsenal of weapons to mow down the zombie hordes with, and surviving a particularly harrowing encounter is immensely satisfying; partially because how gratifying it is to stand amid the pixelated blood spatters and shredded corpses of your enemies.

Garage: Bad Trip review - carnage

Combat would have been even more gratifying if enemies were more diverse. You kill the same two types of zombies over and over again, with the occasional mutant, rat or human thrown into the mix – and even those only have one or two variations.

The bosses, on the other hand, look really cool and disgusting. It’s a shame, then, that fighting them isn’t anything special. They’re all basically giant bullet sponges you strafe around and empty your clip into. I do like their design, but the fights themselves, while challenging, are somewhat repetitive.

The floaty controls don’t help much to remedy that. I first started playing the game using a controller, but it made the main character feel almost disconnected from my input. Switching back to the mouse and keyboard combo fixed the problem, though it still wasn’t as tight as I hoped for.

It could be that the devs did that on purpose, to add to the game’s frantic nature, which it does. I just wish it was a bit more subtle (but nothing in Garage is).

Garage: Bad Trip review - mutants

The music is among the best things in the game. The soundtrack is a combination of eerie, Silent Hill-like tunes with powerful lo-fi rock and the occasional synthwave track. The music helps keep the game rooted in the horror genre. Even when blasting two-headed dogs with a shotgun or cutting through waves of zombies with an HMG, the track never lets the game reach action movie territory.

Garage: Bad Trip is an enjoyable fan love letter to B-movies and cheesy horror. The action is fun and drives the game forward, and there are a few unique moments that break up the gameplay in interesting ways.

As long as you keep in mind that this is a homage to splatterpunk and VHS horror (right down to the visual effects), your trip with Garage will be a pretty good one.

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