15/10/2021

๐ŸงŸ‍♀️๐ŸงŸ Deadly Days | XBOX SERIES X | Review | 8/10 | "With Pixel-Art Graphics and a Dash of Humour" ๐ŸงŸ‍♀️๐ŸงŸ @pixelsplitgames #IndieGames #GameDev

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With pixel-art graphics and a dash of humour, set in a zombie apocalypse, it's hard to play this game without comparing it to the excellent Death Road to Canada.

Your objective in Deadly Days is simple. Your survivors strike out from your compound on daily missions to scavenge ruined towns. Weapons, food, tools and powerups are all on the shopping list. 

Your school bus (that's right) transports you to a new place each day, where you have a limited window to grab as much as you can before night falls and things get a lot nastier.

During the day, the zombies shuffle towards you nice and slowly, meaning you can pick them off without too much trouble. When the timer at the top hits zero though, the sun goes down, the zombies speed up and it becomes a race to make it back to the bus alive. Although you can hang around as long as you like, the longer you do, the more zombies turn up to swamp you, meaning if you're not nicely tooled up then you quickly turn into supper. 
Although Deadly Days does share some similarities with Death Road to Canada, it's by no means a carbon copy. It keeps the rogue-lite theme where you can lose party members, but rather than controlling a single survivor, you just give the orders: setting waypoints, telling the gang where to loot, dropping airstrikes and activating special powers. 

It took me a while to get to grips with this as you've got less control than you might like. You need to plan routes for your survivors to stop them from getting overwhelmed, think about where to put your waypoints to give the best field of fire, keep an eye on the surroundings to solve problems before they occur while keeping one eye on the clock. It's a tall order, even on easy mode, until you get the hang of it.

Looting is how you keep one step ahead in this game. When you clean out a house, garage or building you find different categories of loot: scrap metal for upgrading, tools to invent and upgrade weapons and facilities, new weapons to help you stay alive, as well as buff-providing base upgrades, and new powers to protect your crew. 

You pick your mission from a daily choice of three, although all the mission types are burglary-based. Basic scavenge missions give you a range of buildings to clear out. Hospital missions give you base upgrades, hardware stores give you tools and airdrops are good for new weapons.
Talking of the weapons, there's a vast range to choose from. You start out with two survivors, one armed with a pistol and the other with a knife. You can discover machine guns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers as well as melee weapons like swords and axes. Some of the weapons come colour-coded and equipped with extra abilities like enhanced damage or increased range. 

Your survivors have characteristics that can mesh with these nicely - some come with better melee damage meaning blades are the way to go, while some benefit from more ammo in every clip. The only way to get more survivors is to embark on rescue missions, but the more survivors you have in your group, the more food they consume, and the only way to replenish your stocks is through looting or the odd bonus event. And if you don't have enough food for everyone, then some of them die off. If they all bite the dust, whether through starvation or zombie-related causes, then it's game over.

So how do you win? You discover in the intro that the whole apocalypse thing was kicked off by contaminated burgers sent from the factory to restaurants across the country. Occasionally you get the "burger" mission choice, where your objective is to loot (of course) a fast food joint after shooting your way in. This gives you a map piece, and after several of these, you get the option to go to the factory for the final mission, which entails killing everything in sight. This mission is HARD, and you will get massacred at least a few times.
The enemies start out as your standard shuffling-around walkers (at least until night falls). Every couple of days the threat level increases, which brings in new types: big round zombies that release a horde of rats when defeated, annoying teleporters that do electric damage, and Hulk-types that get really angry and pound you into the floor. 

This means it's a balancing act between running regular missions to power up your weapons and level up and doing the burger missions. Leave it too long and the threat level goes through the roof, meaning you have to peg it through Glastonbury-sized crowds in the hope of finding a couple of extra food items to stave off the loss of your favourite survivor.

The graphics are great if you like the pixel-art style (which I do), and the music ranges from jaunty acoustic guitar when you're back at base, to more adrenaline-pumping stuff as things ramp up. There's a daily mission game mode, accessed from the main menu, which introduces new modifiers to change things up. Beware though, you only get one crack at it, so approach with caution.

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