I like living in my head because in there, everyone is kind and innocent. Once you start integrating yourself into the world, you realize that people are nasty, mean creatures. They’re worse than zombies. People try to crush your soul and destroy your happiness, but zombies just want to have a little nibble of your brain.
“The following is a contributor post by the Midnight Mystic Mage.”
Death Road to Canada was initially released in 2016 but has been given a port onto the Nintendo Switch. It was actually set to release earlier than it did but the developers were very thoughtful to consider the tragedy in Canada that happened right around the time that the port was set to be released. I would like to give my thanks to Madgarden & Rocketcat Games for providing a review copy for their zombie-fueled roguelike, a game which can be pretty darn difficult at times.
You can choose random characters or make your own, I tried both and had a blast making my own John Cena to bash through the zombie hordes. Something I look forward to trying that I have not had the chance to yet is the multiplayer mode. Whenever my wife and I have the free time I will enjoy plowing through the undead and looting for supplies with her.
I received my copy of this game at a point that I became incredibly busy at work due to a new promotion and hugely increased workload, so I do look forward to playing more of it in the future, but I believe I have played enough to get some content out and let you guys know the basics.
Death Road is a 2D roguelike with pixel graphics which leads you and your merry crew around various locations to find supplies and defeat or run away from the massive crowds of zombies (until they are mauled to death). Something I learned from my time with the game is that it is a much better idea to high tail it from the zombies, especially when you see a huge crowd of them starting to come for you. Killing a bunch of them doesn’t really have any kind of payoff and more times than not it will get you and the crew you are with eaten alive and ripped to shreds.
The supplies and resources that you recover are the stars of the show, you can’t continue on without them and much of the game is based around finding them at various locations. There is also a struggle in balancing the number of people you have with you to help fend off the hordes compared to the number of supplies that they use. The main resource these extra people consume that can become quite scarce is food.
Food is obviously something that the whole crew needs to survive in their apocalyptic conditions, but it is used for more than that. Money is not used anymore after the collapse of society, so if you want to get anything including weapons, you will have to spare some of that precious resource known as the grub. There are small trading outposts where you can find people willing to trade different items for food, more people to join your squad, and sometimes even chickens inside of a barn. These chickens were actually pretty cool though, you pick up their eggs which you can then throw at the ground and they will explode into another chicken that follows you around.
Some of the different locations that you may find yourself roaming are my personal favorite: the arcade, various run-down stores or houses, and even their own play on Wal Mart that they call Y’all Mart which I, as a Texan, could truly appreciate and had a good laugh at.
I died many times in quick succession in my earliest attempts, but after learning the ropes you can begin to settle in and really get some good runs going. I can definitely see myself going back to make some new characters whenever I have a funny idea and bringing them through the zombie bashing gauntlet.
You can choose different ways to go after the zombies such as melee, firearms, or even picking up random objects in the environment and hurling things at them, which is surprisingly effective. My chosen method was usually melee weapons with a bit of furniture tossing to go along with it. The firearms can actually attract unwanted attention from the zombies which makes it my least favorite option. You want to get in and get the goods while getting back out as quickly as possible.
I am going to hop right into my 8-bit review of Death Road to Canada and break down the highs and lows in my own humble opinion. Thanks again to the awesome developers and to TWRM for providing me with a copy.
The 8-bit Review
The story is in the background so I am not as much saying that the story that is there is not good as I am saying that there is not much focus on the overarching story of how everyone ended up like this and how things got so bad. I am a huge fan of lore and narrative in video games and I feel that a bit more focus on this would have been a welcome touch in this post-apocalyptic game. I would love to hear more about why the zombies are that way, more backstory for the characters, and maybe even more dialogue options when speaking to NPC’s.
I did not feel like I could just hop right in and know what to do with this game. However, I was expected to and it did not fare well for my overall morale while playing at first. I did begin to enjoy it and the customization it offers for characters as well as learning the correct strategies to become better, but it is not very accessible and I would say that this is one of the weak points of the game. The menus in between raids for supplies were also a bit confusing and did not feel very easy to navigate; I’m no game designer and I do not have much input to offer here on what could have made it better. I just felt confused with much of the game at first and I believe things could have been done differently to make it more intuitive and easy to pick up and play.
One of the first things that I really did not like about the gameplay was the movement of the characters. It did not feel very smooth and natural and it was a bit hard for me to get past this to see what the game was all about. Something that I thought at first was a flaw was the combat because it was a bit clunky and hard to fight the zombies off without dying. I eventually realized that with a run-first mentality combat takes a back seat to what your missions are really about. You don’t need to go mowing down as many zombies as possible but sneak around to get as much stuff from each area as you can. Once you get into a groove with this and begin to discover all the fun the open road and new areas have to offer, there’s some very fun gameplay to be had.
Watch out, because this game will mess you up. You may think you will be able to get through that zombie-filled room to get that much-needed gas for your car or food for you and your people, but before you know it you might be starting a new game and losing all of your precious progress along with it. It can be frustrating at first but once you realize there are many different ways to go about things, this challenge is very welcomed and is one of the shining points in the game for me.
I love 2D pixelated graphics, that and the game concept are much of what made the game appealing to me. After playing for a while though I definitely can not put them up there with some of the best pixel graphics that are out there. I enjoyed them and they have their high points, but the overall visuals were not quite where I was hoping they would be.
Roguelike is probably the most innately repayable subgenre in gaming. Some argument could be made for simulator games and a few others, but roguelikes are made for you to play and die, then keep going over and over. That is the essence of replayability and this game is no exception to that. You can make countless different characters and continue to get better and find more that the game has to offer. To be honest I can see that it might get a bit repetitive for me getting supplies and going on without much else to do in the meantime. However, I am still a bit intrigued to see what there is down the Death Road to Canada and what the endgame is like if there is one.
A roguelike in the zombie apocalypse, what a novel idea. It may not be the first of its kind (I am not an expert in that area to be sure) but I enjoy the concept and I think for the most part it was executed pretty well. It is quirky and funny and there were some real creative touches that give the game a bit of charm. I believe that the idea of this type of game, especially in a 2D pixelated universe, is the first I have played. That may not mean that it is the only one like it but I really enjoy the concept, and it was what initially drew me to the game in the first place.
My Personal Grade: 6/10
Death Road to Canada a good game and its 2,400 reviews on Steam with an average of 9/10 are a fantastic indicator of that. I personally felt that there were a few areas that were a bit lacking and left me wanting more than it offered. I will definitely keep an eye on this developer in the future though see what else they conjure up. There is a ton of promise here and I believe they can really come up with something great and execute it in spectacular fashion in the future.
Aggregated Score: 5.6
The Midnight Mystic Mage is the resident writer of sublimereviews.wordpress.com, a reviewer of games, books, and film, and a fan of all things horror and spooky. Follow the link… if you dare!
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Categories: Game Review