The soldiers at the center of Dead Panic must have forgotten all their training at the first sign of a zombie threat. Instead of responding quickly, they’re instead frozen to one spot, unable to move at all, and unless prompted, they’ll stay turned away from a zombie that’s happily chomping on their neck. They’re in a panic, all right’” the deer-in-the-headlights kind that leaves you paralyzed.
Dead Panic is a slower, more strategic zombie shooter where you place your soldiers like the automated turrets in a tower defense game. However, unlike a tower defense game, you have to also manually turn them to face the nearest threat, and zombies will stumble directly towards them to eat their brains. You’ll be turning soldiers to mow the zombies down constantly, but if you placed your soldiers incorrectly, they’re screwed: Their feet are frozen to the ground.
You’ll be sorry you stepped into my cone of vision!
In a few levels you will have the option to replace your soldiers’ positions, like in some later levels where you have to destroy the blue crystals at the source of the zombie infection. But most of the time, you’re stuck twisting and turning your way through some very long, often dull scenarios. An entertaining, dialogue-heavy story between missions helps break up the monotony, but overall we wanted to skip through most of Dead Panic’s gameplay.
Later on in the game, things start to pick up, after the story moves from New Jersey to New York. Your soldiers meet with Petra, a sniper who can pick off zombies from afar, which really does a lot to change up the gameplay. However, she’s only in a few missions, and we would have liked to see this variety come into play much sooner and last a lot longer.
Dead Panic has a pacing problem’” it’s slow for long stretches as you wait for the zombies to stumble into your short line of sight. The fact that your soldiers are glued to the ground is a nuisance, but since it’s the core gameplay mechanic, it could have been dramatically improved with more characters and different attacks, like Petra. A few creative mission packs could help this game immeasurably, but right now take caution before buying Dead Panic.