Robert Chesley

“Dead Block” – Review

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The best way to describe the game is a “zombie defense” game. So think like “plants vs zombies” except you’re trapped inside of a building and you need to find an amplifier, a guitar, and a half stack to complete the level. You use whatever you can find such as “traps”. you get a variety of “traps” that help you defeat zombies faster and more efficiently . it takes all of this with a grain of salt and is not very serious. For example, if you put a dime in a jukebox the zombies dance around and you can quickly dispatch them while they are distracted. My favorite was setting up a “freeze” trap that turns the zombies to ice and you can shatter them in one hit.

Other than traps, you use various ways to destroy the zombies while attempting to search out the means to escaping the level. Searching items sometimes mean you need to use the trigger buttons to lock on a specific item and press “A”, other times you just need to hit a certain button quickly. They offer some variety, which tries to throw you off of your game whilst you attempt to build your guitar rocking machine to escape the level. When you do build the guitar set up, you need to perform a quick time event that is similar to that of any “Guitar Hero” style game. The button presses are easy to do and doesn’t pose much of a challenge but it is another way of getting you immersed in the camp TV 50s world that the game presents.

I found the single player aspect of the game to be really tedious and depending too much on what you have the AI doing in the mean time. I feel that games need to stand on their own in a single player atmosphere as well as a multiplayer aspect, but it was clear almost from the get-go that you need to be playing this Co-op. I can see the appeal of working together and playing to the character’s strength’s to optimize each opportunity. I would love to just be searching items while a buddy was fending off the Zombie hoard. The single player makes you focus on way too many activities at once. You have to switch between two or three different characters, many times in vastly different parts of the map, and not only search, construct, and destroy but hope that the AI doesn’t roll over to the zombie hoard on the other side of the building. Finding the three objects in the campaign mode isn’t always the easiest of tasks. Sometimes you need to break all the items in a house and then search everything which as mentioned before requires a quick time event and while that has some realistic aspects to it, I found it frustrating playing this in single player mode.

I couldn’t reliably get a Co-Op game going with randoms on Xbox Live, it would have been something I would have loved to try out. I feel this is where the game will shine. Each player doing their specific job. I would love to play just the “Mike Bacon” boy scout player and find all the pieces while my buddies fended off the hoard for me. I feel this kind of co-op defense game has a place and it is a breath of fresh air to play a very humorous and non-serious take on Zombies and video games in general. I’m reminded of a petition a little while back that asked games to stop being so “dark and brown” and this game’s whimsical atmosphere is a welcome change from what we have grown accustomed to.

I feel like the review doesn’t do the game justice because I couldn’t get a Co-Op game in. I hope to return to this when I can find some people to bash zombies with.

– Defined Roles. Each of the three characters has a very specific strength and weakness, this lends well to Co-Op gaming.
– Fun antics. The game reminds me a lot of being Dennis the Menace or “Home Alone” with zombies, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
-Quick time Events. One of the few games that made some interesting game design choices with quick time events that actually added to the game play.
– Map Variety. None of the levels felt stale or complacent.
-Cool Rockabilly sounds. I loved the soundtrack to the game. Had a nice 50s modern guitar vibe to it. Wouldn’t feel out of place on a Phenomenauts record.
-Not a single player game. The single player in this game is severely lacking, which is too bad.
-Illogical AI. In a game where teamwork isn’t just encouraged it is enforced, it would have been nice to see the AI help you track down the pieces in Single player a little better. Instead they typically stand aloof in whatever room you leave them in.
-Brain grasper. The single player portion requires a lot of brain power to think in many different directions. Although the pieces show up in search items seemingly randomly, you need to be quick with your wits to complete these levels solo.
– Quick Time Events. These can still be a distraction and quite annoying, but the game would lose it’s edge without them.

Overall, I liked the style of the game. I love the aesthetic. I even loved the 50s sci-fi horror atmosphere of the game. I felt that the single player could have been helped with a little AI tweaking so you could at least “command” your followers to do a specific job whilst you were away. If you have the buddies and want a cool little co-op distraction, this is definitely the game for you try. If I were to put a price tag on it, I would pay the asking price of ten dollars on your respective system.

A review copy of “Dead Block” was provided for review. This reviewer spent six hours playing the game’s single player modes. I finished the majority of the missions and played a few of the levels a couple of times. The game features many online modes. I tried on several occasions and came up empty at finding a game. I don’t feel this is due to lack of people, but my shoddy connection.

Robert Chesley is a geek of all natures and can be found on Twitter or here on our own WPR forums.

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