What could be better than a road trip? How about a road trip that’s your one chance to escape the zombie horde? In Earn to Die, you play a stalwart unnamed protagonist who’s trying to cross the desert during the inevitable zombie apocalypse. If he gets there — a perilous journey of several levels and many days — a military helicopter is waiting to take him to safety.
However, getting there requires driving through some rough terrain. You climb hills, hurtle off cliffs, and smash through elaborate piles of crates that look like they were assembled by vacationing pigs from Angry Birds. You also get to roll over lots and lots of zombies. The zombies and the obstacles can’t hurt you, but they slow you down, and your run ends when you run out of gas.
The basic controls are easy enough, once you figure them out. There’s no tutorial on how to play the game, though, so you have to learn through trial and error. Touch the accelerate button to pour on the gas, and tap the other two buttons to pitch the car forward and backward — a useful trick when you want to dig into an obstacle or land a jump without losing momentum.
Student Driving with Mr Braaaaains
Earn to Die starts you off with a broken-down car and just enough money for a little fuel. You won’t get very far with what you can afford, but never fear. Each run earns you cash, which you can use to upgrade your car.
As your finances improve, you can buy more gas, bigger wheels, brush cutters, and other fashionable vehicular accessories. (The rocket booster is especially stylish.) Each addition to your car helps you roll through more zombies and get closer to the end of the level. Earn enough money and you can buy a whole new car, but you’ll have to start over again with new accessories.
Your driving skill plays a big role in how far you get with any given car configuration, but many players won’t get all the way through a stage without completely upgrading their car. Since you earn more money the farther you get on each run, you’ll want to upgrade as soon as you can afford it.
That said, the money you spend on the cheaper upgrades is wasted when you buy the better, more expensive upgrades. You’re better off saving your money and going directly to the good stuff.
“Out of my way! I’m a motorist!”
The game runs smoothly, but there are a few bugs, one of which can have a significant impact on your game. When you finish your run, you’re given the choice of running again or going to the garage. If you run again, you’ll lose the money you just earned. Go to the garage first, then go back to the level.
Earn to Die is frustrating at first, mostly because your starting car is so poky and unmaneuverable. Once you’ve put in a few upgrades, though the game picks up speed and gets a lot more fun to play.
It gets even better when you unlock faster and more powerful vehicles. You’d have to be a zombie yourself not to enjoy jumping a schoolbus across a canyon. There’s also a free play mode and a ‘race your friends’ championship mode that unlocks when you beat the main story.
Not everyone will enjoy driving the same levels over and over again earning money for upgrades. If you’re a little patient, though, Earn to Die is a great way to crush zombies under your tires.