Dustoff Z Review – Flying high on arcade nostalgia

Dustoff Z is a true-to-form spiritual successor to Dustoff Heli Rescue, giving veteran players, a reason to try and push through the zombie apocalypse to the best o their ability, as they return to an arcade-style rescue title for gamers of all ages.

+An amusing narrative that comes off as family-friendly
+Earning upgrades and helicopter crews are as rewarding as it sounds
+Zombies change up the Dustoff repertoire to create something familiar, albeit different

-Completionists will find repetition to set in rather quickly
-Sometimes the helicopter feels under-responsive

Somehow, I’ve managed to let the Dustoff series go under my radar. Not because I wanted to, but rather, I never had heard of the franchise until now. Upon experiencing it, I’m somehow almost ashamed of myself for having never given the series a shot until now. It’s goofy, it’s easy-going, but it offers a modest amount of challenge for those seeking perfection on their way through the game.

Somehow, it’s a game that, for me, is unsuspectingly fun, one that is an amazing time burner for those looking to chew their way through an incredibly entertaining experience. It’s an experience I hope that is somewhat similar in its sibling titles such as Dustoff Heli Rescue 2. Now, here we are, in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and our goal is clear: Save as many survivors as we can.

Invictus Games and Zordix’s latest entry does just as good as they would hope it would, which honestly, is surprising since the game is one of those you will pick up and end up binging whether you meant to or not.

Dustoff Z’s a true-blue pick up and go title that deserves a chance

The narrative behind Dustoff Z is simple. You’re a rescuer, a pilot, someone looking to help others during the undead invasion. Your goal is clear: Rescue as many people as you can while also eliminating as much of the undead as you can. While this sounds like a handful and hard to do, it’s really not, which is surprising due to how easy the game plays while also offering different degrees of difficulty based on how you play and if you are going for a completionist experience.

The story itself isn’t exactly worth writing home about. It’s forgettable, if I were, to be honest, which is where this game becomes an exception to this rule. After all, the game itself, well, it’s amazing in almost every aspect of the word. It’s a title that, in many ways, revisits the simplicity of classic NES, SNES, SEGA, and various other titles, while also remaining somehow new and relevant.

Just like the minimalist story, however, the entire game remains minimalist in hopes to lure players in and not overload them with overly extravagant menus, designs choices, or various other elements that may deter fans from enjoying the game to its fullest. While minimalist, the art style is lovely, it’s fun, and somehow, it’s as cartoony as you would want from a game such as this.

While Dustoff Z takes a very minimalist approach, don’t underestimate the punch it packs

As you play, the game itself won’t be taken lightly. It’s a game that does grow increasingly hard with each and every level. Whether it’s the number of zombies on the screen or the obstacles in your way, Dustoff Z doesn’t miss a chance at offering a new experience with each and every stage you play. Some of the challenges come from how the zombies actually work since each and every zombie may act or operate completely differently than the other.

Some may be slow, less nimble as others, while some will just outright make a mad dash for it like you’re the first thing they’ve seen as food in recent days. They aren’t your only enemy though, even with your gunners are on board. You have to worry about key stats for each helicopter you use such as health, fuel, and ammo. Each of these stats are incredibly important as you go through the game since you’ll find that later missions are much less forgiving than the earlier hour sof the game.

Sure, you’ll see restock stations (helipads) over the course of each level that will let you resupply when needed, but other than that, you’re on your own without anyone to help you. Boss fights, of course, make your planning all the more critical as you will find your health, fuel, and ammo being at the forefront aside from navigating your way around each and every baddy. If you fall, there is the option to use your hard-earned in-game cash to put you back in the saddle.

Don’t blow all your money in one place, but also, save it for the later portions of the campaign

Now, one of the surprising things about the game is that it has ONLY a campaign mode. That’s not inherently a bad thing. I’m not even sure how something outside of the campaign would actually work since the game itself is rather short unless you go for a completionist run and go for every star you can get upon completion.

The ratings are based on several factors, which at the end of each mission, is determined by overall performance, but also the amount of damage taken, zombies eliminated and tasks completed, at least that’s how the scoring seemed to weigh from the time spent with the game, which came in at a total of around 15 hours in total. 15 hours of hectic zombie slaying and human-focused rescuing fun.

Unfortunately, this does mean that later portions of the game will remain completely inaccessible under certain conditions, mostly that you will need to focus on completing each and every mission that you can to the best of your ability. If you struggle early on, you’ll struggle later on as well, unfortunately. You’ll even find that some of your progression is going to get roadblocked as you try to fill your Alman-O-Tronic with all the information that you can. This is mainly the final mission, which becomes a pain to access, and will remain a pain to access.

You’ll find that you’ll end up screaming “utter bollocks” at the top of your lungs once you start going back through almost 30 missions to find out what bits of intel you are missing. Trust me when I say it: That was oen of the parts that almost broke me even though I kept a keen eye on what I was and wasn’t doing through each and every level. Sometimes playing them several times on average to make sure I collected everything and left with a three star rating.

It’s just a damn shame that such a small, seemingly insignificant thing, can almost be a deal-breaker for some. There’s also the “Daily Missions” you can complete that will keep you busy if you want a reason to come back and replay Dustoff Z at any given point.

The Conclusion

In many ways, it’s not hard to look at some of the flaws that Dustoff Z and shake your head. It’s a game, that once you are in, is addictive, it’s fun, and it’s a game that’s going to be easy to pick up and put down in sessions in the duration of your choosing. While it will never contend for Game of the Year at an awards show, it’s a game that still deserves a mentioning, and it’s one that has provided a sense of nostalgia due to its minimalist, almost retro-style approach.

Dustoff Z
 PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Invictus Games
Publisher: Zordix Publishing
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $11.99

While it doesn’t bring anything particularly noteworthy to the genre, it’s still something fun, it’s a title that still offers some sense of enjoyment whether you are trying to beat the game or go through for your Daily Mission challenges just as you would in a mobile game. It’s a game, whether to mention it or not, is actually a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch, but also comes with an $11.99 price tag that might have some bite their lip before they buy.

Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.

About the Writer(s):


Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.

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