GROSS review

2023-01-09 by George P

  • Reviewed on

  • Platforms


  • Developer
    hangry owl games

  • Publisher
    hangry owl games

Shooting, Building, Defending

Gross is a unique FPS / Tower defense hybrid zombie blaster set in a post-apocalyptic world. Playing as one of the country’s remaining survivors you will find yourself trapped in an abandoned and enigmatic research lab. After gearing up and rescuing the cutest German shepherd doggo you will start blasting zombies as you try to find a way out before you are overwhelmed. Just as you make a narrow escape, you will meet Charlotte, a key character in the game’s story who will also act as your partner throughout the journey. You, Charlotte, and the dog will travel through forests, mountains, cities, and more as you attempt to both survive the seemingly endless waves of the undead and decipher the mystery of how it all begun. Starting the year off with a review of a zombie apocalypse game and you would think it’s 2013 but nope we have in fact just entered 2023 (Happy New Year everyone!). And while Gross may initially appear like your standard generic zombie shooter from a decade ago, I can say that I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that the game manages to be so much more than one would initially guess.

While Gross certainly makes use of many of the more generic tropes that we have come to expect in zombie games, both mechanically and storywise, it ultimately manages to craft a very unique, fun, and even genre-defining experience. The biggest selling point of Gross is of course its unique take on FPS zombie survival as it aims to unite the popular genre with a true old-school Tower defense construction system. The good news is that the results of this endeavor are just excellent, and by borrowing elements from the past, Gross manages to make surviving the zombie apocalypse feel fresher than ever.

The Combo that Never Was

Tower defense + FPS sounds like a match made in heaven. It is a genre combo that I have wanted to see in action for many years now but unfortunately, it never managed to gain much momentum in the industry. Excluding third-party mods, the only major attempt to unite these two genres in a polished and standalone game was the semi-popular Sanctum series, consisting of two games released in 2011 and 2013 correspondingly. Attracting quite a large number of players back in its time, it can even be said that Sanctum 2 has maintained a cultclassic following even to this day. And while I was also one of the people who did get to try out the Sanctus games shortly after their release, for one reason or another, I was never truly able to get into the series. On the other side, Gross is a game that I was immediately sucked into for all the good reasons. The gunplay is smooth and responsive, the tower defense system is advanced and intricate without ever feeling overwhelming, the difficulty curve is cleverly designed, and going through the campaign as you explore locations, learn mechanics, acquire new guns, and devise new strategies makes for a really awesome journey. Most importantly, the game does not feel gimmicky. When trying out more experimental hybrid projects such as this one I am always a bit skeptical as it is not uncommon for such games to just sprinkle random elements from a genre without ever comprehending what actually makes said genre engaging. However, that is fortunately not the case here.

One of the most noteworthy qualities of Gross is how it manages to almost perfectly balance the two genres it is trying to unite, making you feel like you are simultaneously playing both a proper fast-paced FPS and a fully-fledged Tower defense game; without the one ever overshadowing the other. And this of course cannot be attributed to just a series of coincidences. It is very clear that a great amount of thought and effort has gone into both designing the game’s mechanics and conceptual foundations, as well as developing a polished and engaging core gameplay loop. If there was a simple way to put it, Gross is the kind of game that I always wanted to play but never got the chance to do so because it simply did not yet exist. This is why I previously described the game as probably “genre-defining”. I believe Gross has the potential to fill the gap in a sub-genre that never actually had the chance to properly flourish and evolve. And there is no doubt in my mind that the “FPS/Tower defense hybrid” is a concept with truly countless possible ideas, mechanics, and variations in both a singleplayer and multiplayer setting.

The Asset Matter

It is quite rare to get to the third paragraph of a review without having mentioned anything concerning the game’s visuals and as you can imagine there is a reason for that. One of Gross’s greatest weaknesses is its use of store-bought assets. What this means is that the game’s art elements, models, animations, etc. are not custom-made and thus not unique but have instead been purchased from the Unity store. On top of that, the developer has chosen to go with arguably some of the most popular asset packs on the market, making the game feel completely devoid of any visual identity. If you are like me and love browsing new indies on Steam you most likely immediately recognized both the art style and many of the specific models as there are dozens or even hundreds of titles that utilize these particular asset packs.

And while the store-bought assets are definitely an aspect that will negatively influence the game’s public perception, I still do not believe it will be an issue large enough to overshadow the many positive and innovative elements that Gross has managed to smoothly execute. The reality is that this is a very enjoyable and quite addicting game, and if you have ever thought about playing a zombie FPS where you construct your own defenses through a proper oldschool tower defense system then you will certainly have a blast. Additionally, as Gross has already managed to establish a very strong and refined foundation, I would not be surprised to see it evolve into something even greater in the near future.


Gross is an engaging zombie shooter crafted with a great amount of effort and passion that nails, in both design and execution, the union between FPS and Tower Defence. Unfortunately, Gross uses store-bought assets for its visuals which do make the game feel cheaper and more generic than it actually is. However, if you do not consider this a large issue then you will undoubtedly have tons of hours of fun in this hybrid experience.