Review: Dead Block

Dead Block is the latest title from Candygun Games and Digital Reality. In this 3rd person action-strategy title you’ll find yourself having to survive a zombie outbreak. Is it worth taking a look or should you let the zombies overrun the whole town? Find out in our review.

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In Dead Block you’ll find yourself in control of one of various characters Jack Foster, a construction worker; Foxy Jones, a meter maid, or Mike Bacon, a young boy scout. Each respective character has their own special ability that helps to immobilize or kill zombies. The single player campaign offers ten levels while the multiplayer mode offers eight levels to fight through with up to three friends. The majority of gamers will likely spend most of their time in the single player though. Why is that? I’m not sure who made the decision, but Dead Block only offers co-operative play offline. Sure, offline co-op is nice but this is the perfect game for co-op so leaving out the online option in this digital age feels very wrong.

Regardless of the lacking online co-op mode, Dead Block has proved to be an enjoyable experience in both the single player and offline co-op modes, but it’s a game that should be played in short bursts. The levels start out small and you in a diner or a small home, but as you progress through the game they grow larger and have more rooms and potential entrances for zombies. You control one character at any given time; each one has their strengths and weaknesses. Commonly I found myself playing as Jack, the construction worker, because he’s the best at breaking down items to gain wood. However, he’s slower to attack when compared to Mike or Foxy.

To progress through the levels, you have to find all three parts for the guitar/amp setup, or kill enough zombies to power up the ZombOMatic 5000 and survive the outbreak. You can find traps to help slow down or kill zombies by searching various items in each level, and you’ll also uncover the guitar and other required pieces this way. Each run at a level seems to be randomized for what items you’ll receive in which room although zombies seem to take the same pattern for breaking in each time. You can break down almost everything in every room to stock up on wood – fridges, tables, countertops – it all becomes wood. Searching for the items is a quick and easy task, and it often features fast and simple mini-games.

As zombies approach the building, you’ll see markers on the map to show you their location. Once the markers become red they’re entered the building. They can break through windows, and weakened portions of walls, but you can stop them! As you search items you’ll find various types of traps and items to combine with the environment to create more deadly zombie traps. You can set traps on any window or doorway, or even that hole in the wall – or you can simply board it up with the wood you’ve collected. Traps and wooden barricades don’t last forever though, so you have to time it well and continue to clear rooms and move through the levels. You’ll learn quickly that there’s usually a good order to clear rooms and make things easier, but you may find yourself overwhelmed and killed if you do things too slowly.

A small negative point regarding Dead Block is its lack of checkpoints. I’ve found myself clearing out a level for 20 minutes or longer, and I suddenly get overwhelmed in the final seconds of the level and I found myself having to restart. It’d be a welcome feature to see a checkpoint if you completely clear a room of all items… replaying a level three times in a row just to beat it isn’t a great ways to keep a gamer having fun.

You can switch between characters in levels once you’ve ‘found’ the character and activated them, but the AI is quite good and they’ll usually work away doing whatever they do best. They won’t move from room to room however, but if you stand still and hold the left bumper they’ll join you in whatever room you’re in, and help to clear it.  You may even consider that a good thing since they won’t go and get killed on their own. If a character does fall though, you can revive them semi-quickly if the area is clear. Soda machines can offer you an energy drink to restore your health too – keep an eye out!

The game has a Team Fortress 2 style of graphics and each level is opened by a small TV advert advertising the ‘episode’ you’re about to play. Much of the game looks the same but it’s a cool design and I was pleased with it. The soundtrack isn’t too bad either and it features some guitar tunes to keep you in the zombie-killing mood. Character voices are short-lived and you’ll hear repeated phrases or single works frequently, not much more than that.

Dead Block is a fun title despite its small problems and lack of online play. It’s the type of game where you find it fun to pick up and play for a few minutes, beat a level, and then come back later. While it’s not perfect I’ve spent gotten at least five hours of enjoyment from it and I’m not done with the game yet. $10 isn’t that much to ask, and the game would be an even easier pickup when it eventually goes on sale. I’d definitely recommend you check out the demo and if you enjoy it, buy the game – it’s an accurate representation of what’s to come.

It's fun, but lacks checkpoints which can lead to replaying a lot of content. No online co-op, but supports 4 players offline, and a lengthy solo campaign.
Levels all look a little similar, but everything looks like, cartoon-ish and fun style.
Decent background tracks, but character phrases become repetitive quickly.
8.0Final Score


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