Zombie Wranglers revolves around a group of four apprentice zombie hunters during their summer break from school. Called into action to deal with a minor zombie outbreak, the wranglers soon find the problem is far worse than originally anticipated. After breaking several containers of a mystery chemical and fighting a menacing ball made entirely of zombies, the kids pick up a mysterious black book, and confirm that a nefarious plot is totally in progress.
The wranglers hand the book over to Grandpa Sammy, a retired teacher with a taste for the occult. Grandpa Sammy, in turn, discovers the book speaks of a Recipe of Destruction, and despite the sudden zombie outbreak, nobody is certain of the recipe's relevance to the current disaster. Before discovering its true purpose, Sammy has the wranglers recover missing pages of the book and various ingredients for the Recipe of Destruction, both cleverly disguised as item collecting. After fighting through massive swarms of zombies, several canisters of a glowing green chemical called Gloomex, rogue agents of the Central Doom Academy, and hulking robotic creatures with explosive tendencies, the wranglers grab all the awkwardly misplaced items. In return, they discover the secret of the Recipe of Destruction: It creates Gloomex, the weird chemical they may or may not have been destroying, which in turn has been turning normal people into zombies, hence this completely obvious crisis.
With the enormous mystery of the zombie outbreak solved, the kids are somehow able to track the source of the chemical and the infection to their school's basement, where an evil scientist by the name of Dr. Mortis awaits. The evil doctor claims he created the zombie outbreak as a proof of concept test for his Gloomex weapon, which he plans to sell to an "enemy nation" as a biological weapon to use against the United States. After an extended battle, Dr. Mortis is naturally defeated by the Zombie Wranglers, and the game finishes with the kids eating at a fast food restaurant on the Central Doom Academy's dime for a reward while an incomprehensible rock song plays in the background.
With an appearance similar to Captain Stupendous or a luchador, Uju works with voodoo. His ranged attack drives zombies away in fear for a few seconds before they stop and explode, damaging any other zombies nearby. His Zombomb attack stuns zombies within a certain radius, causing them to dance and groove in place for some time.
Monica looks like the tough-yet-cute blond-haired girl of the group with an apparent edge. Monica's ranged attack freezes zombies before damaging them. Her Zombomb is a kiss of confusion, causing zombies within melee range to flip out and attack fellow zombies for a short time.
Amy appears to be the dark-haired rocker of the group, constantly wearing a set of headphones and carrying around a boom box. The boom box doubles as a quick-fire ranged weapon, and can shoot out about five sound waves at zombies before briefly overheating. Her Zombomb is a bass blast from the boom box that stuns zombies in melee range for a long time.
Dean appears to serve as the tech geek of the group. Dean's ranged attack utilizes a special arm accessory to shoot fireballs at zombies. His Zombomb is a point-blank fireball explosion, damaging nearby zombies and stunning zombies further away.
Zombie Wranglers is a third-person shooter, with the camera placed behind and slightly above the character. After choosing one of the four wranglers, the player can begin a new story or pick up the game at a previously played chapter or level.
Each level starts with a brief introduction through dialog, and from here, the player is usually assigned a few tasks to complete within the area. These may involve simply killing a certain amount or type of zombies, collecting items strewn around the level, or rescuing stranded civilians within a set time limit. A few levels instead require the player to survive for a set amount of time or defeat a new type of enemy before continuing. Upon successfully completing all the tasks, most of the zombies in the level will retreat into the ground and an exit point will be marked for the player to finish the level. Some exit points lead directly to the next level, and serve as the next starting point.
There are three methods of defeating monsters: Shooting, wrangling, and Zombombs.
- Shooting is relatively straightforward, destroying most zombies after one shot, and a few others with a few more shots. A few zombie types will either be stunned or indifferent to being shot, however, and only a bit of ectoplasm drops for shooting a zombie to death.
- Wrangling vacuums a zombie up into the character's wrangler pack, though tougher zombies and larger monsters may require a bit of roughing up before they can be sucked up. The wrangler pack initially vacuums only one zombie up at a time, though upgrades collected throughout the game eventually allow the player to wrangle groups of zombies at a time. Wrangling yields more ectoplasm than shooting and provides the player with cash.
- Zombombs are area-of-effect blasts, earned through gathering enough ectoplasm. They are most useful when surrounded or otherwise overwhelmed by zombies.
Most levels offer items, usually at the cost of some of the player's cash. These items include health-restoring food, a helmet that lets the player run faster, and a zombie mask that lets the player blend in with the zombies. The only item that is free to pick up is a turkey leg, which provides a small health boost. Since items respawn shortly after being picked up, this health boost can be easily exploited to restore the player's health entirely.
Outside the main tasks in the story, there are also optional tarot cards and voodoo dolls to collect in each level, along with special "Frozen Codebase" zombies to wrangle in certain levels. These items serve no purpose beyond unlocking achievements.
Zombie Wranglers supports cooperative online play for up to four players, and has a competitive zombie-wrangling multiplayer mode.