Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dead Pixels

Please note that this is the rough draft for a review I wrote for Please check out the final draft of the review here.

Dead Pixels is an interesting little game for Xbox Live or on the PC. It's a retro sidescroller with a pixel art style, which makes its name more than just a simple pun. More than just the art style is retro, however. It's a fairly classic side-scroller, much as you would often find back in the days of the old-school Nintendo Entertainment System, and much of the storyline fluff has a seriously groovy 70s vibe to it.

So, what you get is several gameplay options, but most of them are some variation of the main story campaign. You're in a city teeming with toxic undead and there's an escape vehicle leaving soon. If you want to get the hell out of Dodge, you've got to wade through a ton of ever thougher zombies, while looting buildings for supplies in order to cross the city and reach the safe point. You have a handful of stats with varying uses, from getting lower prices at the stores you run across to running faster to doing more damage with either weapons or melee attacks and more. As you kill more zombies you get XP and collect coins. Quite similar to River City Ransom, if I remember that game correctly. Actually, what this game reminds me of more than anything is an old-ish shareware game series called Zombie Smashers X, classics, but those games focused more on beat-em-up style gameplay. Not this game. While you will need to use your melee attack, you are not a Kung Fu killing machine in this game and can be killed surprisingly easy if you're not paying attention. While that is still somewhat frustrating, it's not nearly as frustrating as in a lot of games, because in this game most of the time if you get surrounded and killed you can usually tell how it was your own dang fault for getting into that position in the first place. The game is challenging, but not unfairly so. Expect to die a few times before you figure out what works for you. What skills to level up, when to run and when to fight, etc.
Like I said, there are other stories and game types as well, but they're mostly variations. You'll definitely want to check them out, but don't expect anything groundbreakingly different from them.
As with most games, though, it's the little things that make this game. There are tons of background references to all sorts of zombie-related movies and video games. The guy who made this game is a zombie nut to rival the best of them. In other words, one of us. The soundtrack is pretty darn cool too. It's perfect to pump you up to get to killing zombies.You can snag it as a free download from the game's webpage, which is downright neighborly of them. Are you listening, major publishers? I know you need to make a buck, but this is a great way to inspire customer loyalty.
My biggest issue is that I'm mostly a PC gamer, and the game is definitely meant to be played on the Xbox. Don't get me wrong, it's a great port to the PC, but the game really needs to be played with friends. You see there is local co-op multiplayer. You see that? LOCAL. I kind of understand that an indie developer doesn't have a ton of time or money to sink into doing multiplayer at all, so I should be thankful for that much, but as a PC gamer, I haven't been to a LAN party in ages, let alone sitting multiple people in front of the same screen with console-style game pads in hand. However local co-op makes perfect sense for a console system since it's still very common for four friends to get together in the same room and play the same game together.

Bottom Line: The game is not extensive, but for the ridiculously low price of three American dollars, you really have no excuse to not go out and buy this game. It's fun and loaded with zombie references that you should enjoy. My only caveat is that if you own an Xbox, buy this game on that instead of the PC. That doesn't mean that PC gamers should pass it over, however, it's not as optimal, but it's still a fun game despite that.

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