Approaching from the land of the PC Master Race, Death Road to Canada graces our home consoles with bountiful supplies of cute bit-style, rogue-like gameplay!
The best way this writer can address this title is a Dungeons and Dragons type experience, it’s 50% text-based and 50% game. During cutscenes between levels, players are treated to a portion of the storyline where characters may sing a song around a campfire or explore dug out graves for example. This may buff characters morale, health or with the same hand de-buff!
Story-wise Its a standard zombie survival format, a group of Floridians hear that Canada Is Zombie free but must take a treacherous route to get there, called “Death Road” funnily enough! Whilst the text cutscenes have their own style and appeal to an ever-growing niche audience which this writer greatly appreciated, it does flatten the whole experience which might make players button bash to skip such scenes.
So what can players expect to get up to during the actual gameplay? Well, this usually kicks off with having a choice of points of interest within a larger area to loot or take down a horde. From there it’s a case of exploring every square inch of the area generated (procedurally I might add) to collect supplies such as medicine, food, ammo and weapons to survive the oncoming challenges of Death Road.
Building a worthwhile team is essential. Whilst having some meat heads with machetes and aluminium baseball bats can shave down a big horde (up to 500 zombies!) quicker than a plank of wood, it’s always wise to have a mechanic on hand for breakdowns for example. These are events that can happen in the cutscenes which can affect your progress. Another good tip is to converge as much ammo as possible for the bigger sieges you’ll have to take on.
Another expansive part of this title is the number of modes you can unlock. Whilst this writer hasn’t played them all yet, here they all are:
- Normal Mode: 15 days, randomized recruits, normal difficulty.
- Familiar Characters: Probably the best for co-op, nearly all characters encountered are ones that have been created previously!
- Rare Characters: Increases the chance of finding ‘rare’ characters with special abilities.
- Short Trip to Heck: Unlocked by beating any of the 3 first modes. 9 days instead of 15.
- Long Winding Mode- Unlocked by beating any of the 3 first modes. 25 days instead of 15.
- Deadlier Road- Unlocked by beating any of the 3 first modes.
- Familiar EXTREME- Unlocked by beating Deadlier Road and Familiar Characters.
- Rare EXTREME: Unlocked by beating Deadlier Road and Rare Characters.
- Marathon Mode: Unlocked by beating Deadlier Road and Long Winding Road. Changes the days from 15 to 30.
- K*E*P*A* Mode: Unlocked by beating all of the modes before it.
What this writer will say is that the difficulty spike is quite a big one to overcome. Whilst the controls are a bit like driving a combine harvester with a potato waffle, once you get the characters hits timed out you’ve cracked it. It’s just a case of having the right weapons. Also, the comedic and creative value just makes it a joy to experience!
The soundtrack is absolutely brilliant, it’s more or less a bit chip rock and roll effort which bleeds creativity! It’s a shame the SFX are a bit cruddy, all just sounds like a wet fart. Even the menu system has it’s own Smokey chilled theme. Lastly, same screen CO-OP Is supported with 2 joy cons making this a cracking game to pull out on a long commute with your buddy or at home!
A lot of thought has gone into Death Road to Canada, from the customizable characters to the soundtrack. Although it is a brilliant rogue-like to have on the Switch, this writer fears a lot of owners might be put off by its often unforgiving difficulty curve. That would be a real shame!
Formats: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam
Price: €11.99 (€9.99 sale price)/£11.49 (£9.59)
Publisher: Rocket Cat Games
Developer: Rocket Cat Games
Release Date: 8th March 2018
Age Rating: PEGI 12+