The App Store has a zombie infestation problem. The traditional cure for the digital undead usually calls for a heavy dose of shotgun shells (or a chainsaw), but Dead Escape is a little different. Instead of massacring zombies, you have to outwit them to make a clean getaway.
Offhand, it wouldn’t seem difficult to out-think a zombie. After all, the only brains they have are the ones that are simmering in their pus-filled digestive tracts. But fooling your enemies in Dead Escape is not as easy as tapping them on the shoulder and running away. Dead Escape is a puzzle/adventure game that will probably bring back some memories of those merciless point-and-click adventures you agonized over on your 486. Granted, Dead Escape moves in real-time, so there’s no pointing and clicking, but there’s still enough experimentation, guessing, and frustration to give adventure enthusiasts a huge thrill as well as a case of the shivering horrors.
Where’d I put that shotgun?
You play the game as a young man who is up late at night and has to rely on the local convenience store for soap and groceries (another horror). Suddenly, a zombie virus outbreak occurs and thousands of citizens join the dragging undead. Though you’re locked safely inside of the store (along with three others, including the proprietor), you start looking for a way to rescue yourself and your new charges because don’t want to stay locked forever behind glass walls, sustaining on cheap dog food and Tampax.
Thus begins a string of puzzle-solving. You move around your environments with the aid of a virtual thumbstick and search shelves, alleys, subway tunnels, and abandoned apartments for items that might help you clear away from the infestation. Most of the items you find are key in helping you surmount the “obstacles” that block your way, namely things of the zombie-like breed. Items can also be combined to make them more useful. For instance, early in the game, you combine meat with a sleeping pill to stop an angry dog in an alleyway.
Zombies hate fluorescent lighting.
Not surprisingly, getting ahead in Dead Escape requires a great deal of guessing, experimentation, and trial and error. Sometimes the solution to a problem is obvious, and other times you will say, “Oh, really?! Come on!” Again, this is a title developed with point-and-click in mind, and was obviously made to serve a niche. If you like item-based guessing games, you’ll have a good time with Dead Escape.
But even adventure game veterans will have a bit of a hard time with the controls. Dead Escape lacks a second thumbstick, which makes turning around in a room as cumbersome as backing an 18-wheeler onto a residential street. On the plus side, getting to move your character around makes the search for items more interesting (if not a tad more difficult), and the character models look good, even if they don’t move their mouths while talking. The characters’ in-game dialogue is cheesy, but heck, this is a zombie survival game. It’s a No Shakespeare zone.
If you like slow-moving adventure games that recall the days of the point-and-click, you’ll have some fun with Dead Escape. You’ll even have fun if you’re looking for a zombie adventure that goes beyond shoot, shoot, shoot. If, however, you want gobs of blood and bones decorating brick walls, pick up your gun and go elsewhere.