Dead Pixels Review

I spoke about a zombie game just a few days ago, so we’re going to keep going from there and rocket off into insanity, ZOMBIE INSANITY!

From the cool, but lackluster, Organ Trail we strap on our jetpacks and hurtle ourselves into the frying pan, the fire, the rock, the hard place, and Jericho (that’s as close to an Easter reference as you’re getting this week)!  And boy the walls come falling down!*

*Regardless of religious affiliation, I liked that song as a child

Today we have CSR-Studios‘ Dead Pixels.

Dead Pixels 2013-04-02 01-09-35-82

It’s kind of set up like an 8-bit version of Left 4 Dead in that it is all set up like an old zombie movie, complete with (removable if by preference) film static.  It is a side-scrolling shooter/beat ’em up.  You start out with a shotgun and a handful of shells and you have to go a few dozen streets down the way to get to a group of survivors in a zombie-infested city.

Considering ammunition is very limited you’ll be using your melee attack for most of the game.  Be prepared to hit the melee button so often that your thumb goes numb, especially since you have about ZERO range on your melee attacks.

Although on a funny side note about the melee attacks, each type of weapon has a slightly different one: Long-barreled guns like Shotguns and Carbines have a poking animation, while Handguns like Berettas and Desert Eagles have you reach out and judo-chop the zombies in the throat with your free hand.

There are shops scattered throughout the game where you can buy or sell gear, upgrade your stats, and trade ‘valuable’ items (like bars of soap, sleeping bags, and bottles of water).  You can also save in said shops, and get a breath if you’re being overwhelmed and one is nearby; let you get some feeling back in that melee thumb.

The game is rife with Running, Gunning, and Guts!

The Running!

Running gags, that is.  There is a ridiculous amount of references to zombie movies, zombie games, and zombies in general.  All of the guns seem to be named after characters from the Resident Evil Series.  You’ve got a Chambers Shotgun (Rebecca Chambers), Burton Carbine (Barry Burton), Redfield Assault Rifle (Chris and Claire Redfield), and even a Valentine Beretta (Jill Valentine).  I’ve yet to see anything that says Alomar or Kennedy on it, though; although the survival-mode does have a low-power handgun with unlimited ammo called the Wesker.

Houses have “We [Heart] You Zoey” painted on them, in reference to Zoey from Left 4 Dead.  It’s just ridiculous the level of detail put into the gags, jokes, and references alone.

I'm sure Zoey would Heart you back, if she wasn't being raped by a Tank right now.

I’m sure Zoey would Heart you back, if she wasn’t being raped by a Tank right now.

The Gunning!

When you begin the game you will get a slight lull in action, this is called the Tutorial.  Once it is over…YOU WILL BECOME DEATH!  You will lay waste upon the undead city before you until your thumbs bleed with damnation and apathy!

Zombies of all shapes, sizes, and inflictions will march slothily in your direction, intent on eating you…or in the case of a handful of enemies…SPITTING ACID ON YOU!!

God damn do I hate those spitty bastards, I’ve dubbed them Pukers.  They’ve got long range and do about 20 HP of damage.  Best way to get them is to come at them from the top or bottom and hit ’em with a stunning melee attack.  Otherwise you’ll trade bullets for acidic puke balls, and you won’t exactly come out of that fight heralding a victory.

Behold the might of Lord McFire and Baron von Ice!

Behold the might of Lord McFire and Baron von Ice!

Pistols are quick and cheap, but don’t generally back much punch and have limited penetration (i.e. the ability to shoot through one zombie and hit another one or two behind them).

Shotguns have limited range, but they fire a scatter-spread pattern that hits large groups huddled together.  Some of them have pretty decent penetration, too.  They’ve got a pretty low rate of fire, though.

Bolt-Action rifles have unnecessarily long range (which means their bullets don’t lose strength as easily from across the screen) and good penetration, but abysmal firing rates.

Carbines and Assault Rifles have very low damage, and negligible penetrations, but they fire in fully automatic.  You put a pretty good swath of bullets in either direction with some decent range.  They are definitely the game’s way of saying Quantity over Quality.

Of course that’s not even a hard and fast rule of thumb, because each class (Valentine, Chambers, Redfield, etc.) have slightly different stats for the same type of weapon.  I have not sat down and made a full list as of yet (and don’t honestly intend to, sorry).

There are three modes of game play, total.  There’s the regular story wherein you are a lone survivor, or two survivors if you’re playing local co-op mode with someone sitting beside you, and trying to get to a survivor’s shelter to escape the zombie-infested city.  For some reason there are insane shopkeepers trading cash-for-goods among the zombie-infested areas.

This is a stick-up!  Put the guns, medkits, and cuddly toys in a bag and don't call the Army!

This is a stick-up! Put the guns, medkits, and cuddly toys in a bag and don’t call the Army!

The second game type is where you play a government operative, well actually a prisoner, unleashed into the city who has to put the power plant into meltdown in exchange for a presidential pardon.  In this game mode you pick a pre-designed character and have no upgrades or shops to worry about.  If you need gear you can have the army air-drop them to you.  This one is definitely more action-packed and less “Ohmigod I’m gonna die!!” than the regular game.

The last game type is a ‘horde-style’ game type wherein you either try to survive 6 waves as fast as you can or see how long you can last, survival-mode style.  You can gather cash during the waves and upgrade your stats or buy ammo in between waves.  You start out with a pistol with unlimited ammo which will get you through the first few waves until the big shit and special enemies start coming after you.

And yes there are special enemies…I’ll talk about that below.

The Guts!

And trust me, there’s a lot of them.  Just look at this mess!

I love the smell of severed zombie in the morning.

I love the smell of severed zombie in the morning.

Unfortunately there isn’t much else.  Once you’ve beaten all three modes of the game once or twice, there isn’t much else to do.  There’s no puzzles or minigames or interactivity to the storyline to keep you coming back once you grow tired of the violence and gore.

The good news is that there’s plenty of enjoyment in said violence and gore to make the game worth some of your time.  There are a few different enemy types including ‘Boss’ enemies like the ‘Spitter Queen’, ‘Burning Husk’, and ‘Clawed Fiend’.  They each have high health and stamina and can put a hurting on you if you aren’t careful.

But there’s also tons of awesome special weapons, like a chainsaw, flamethrower, lightning-bolt rifle, and ice ray.

So all in all if you want balls to the wall zombie-killing excitement, pick up Dead Pixels.  It might still be on sale, and even if it isn’t you can pick it up for full-price on Steam at about Three Dollars.

Go now, play the game!

~RCS

Did I mention zombie movie references?

Did I mention zombie movie references?

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