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Never judge a book by its cover is an adage that fits quite with Deadly Days. However, this zombie apocalypse simulator falls more in line with the thinking that you should never judge a game by its trailer. Going into this review the game by most accounts looked to be a copy and paste of the well-received Death Road to Canada. While this is not the case, what is here is both surprising and promising.
Deadly Days is in itself a strategic rogue-lite that pits you as a pair of randomly generated survivors, trying to destroy the Burger company that has turned society into flesh-eating zombies. From your base of operations, you choose your weaponry and perks as plot your daily journey into the unknown, and that’s not hyperbole. The world is completely randomly generated ensuring you will never know what to expect, except lots of carnage, blood, and plenty of humour.
Control-wise, DD is more in line with a point and click RTS. You simple press A to indicate where you want your survivors to go and trust you have the resources to survive. They will defend themselves with everything from pocket knives to rocket launchers and you even have the ability via your special powers to call in airstrikes to help clear out hordes. These powers change depending on your initial specialisation which also grants base powers which can also alter how you play the game. Having coffee as a base power will extend your daylight hours giving you more time to loot and search for survivors which are helpful especially in the early days of your run. These powers and perks like your character can all be levelled up adding to the surprising level of depth hidden in this title. Your base itself can also go through modifications granting bonuses in storage capacity and our personal favourite auto-levelling of your characters if you complete all the quests on a given day. The right trigger serves as a manual fire button for the times you need to get a bit more personal, but control is essentially out of your hands.
Visually, DD is throwback animation-wise to the first season of South Park. All the characters have a derpy little stagger walk that completely fits the pixelated world you inhabit. There is a decent amount of variety amongst the ever-increasing horde including special zombies that appear as your danger level increases day by day. When night falls and the mobs increase as you attempt to get back to your bus, you will be hard-pressed to focus on the amount of variety at hand as you will be too focused on survival. While DD will not win over anyone that doesn’t like the dated pixel-based look, it does present well and has enough little touches to help it stand apart from other titles. Rarely have we ever actively feared lightning the way we did with this one. Bolts from the heavens will inflict harm on the zombies and you, if you don’t avoid the area, indicated just prior to a strike.
The audio department much like the graphics doesn’t feel out of place and certainly feels eerily reminiscent of early South Park as well. The plucky guitars mixed with the ambient noise keeps each trip into the unknown light-hearted and fun. Choosing not to pile on the sounds of dread and foreboding was a good one and helps keep this more in line with what feels like the true vision for the title. All of the story is delivered via text bubble, so there is no voice work to critique which is fine as it only;y could have distracted from the overall presentation.
There is a lot of value Deadly Days, based on it being a procedurally generated game. While many have voiced growing fatigue with the setup, when done well, it offers near-limitless replayability. Mix in daily challenges, unlocks, and upgrades and you begin to see that your money is going to be well spent. While the general lack of precise control takes some getting used to, the game as a whole is a fun trip down the all too familiar zombie-filled roads. Deadly Days doesn’t take itself seriously but offers enough depth that you should… while stopping to laugh and enjoy the madness.
TBG Score: 7/10
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 27/08/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: RPG, Shooter, Action
Publisher: Assemble Entertainment
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop