This week, Morgan further plans for the zombie apocalypse via video game, despite the fact that he would no doubt be the first one to die.
I’m tired of this, Steam. You tease good games, then try to pawn them off for full price when I can get them for at least half the cost elsewhere. I’ve taken the position of the dog who’s not sure if its owner’s hand even contains a biscuit after all. Either give me some good games to play or I’m throwing myself off of this cliff.
“Well, there’s Death Road to Canada. It’s a pixel-art zombie survival – no, wait, don’t jump! It’s a pixel-art zombie survival game where your death is permanent and you’re forced to start right from the beginning again should you be overwhelmed by the hordes. A “rogue-like”, as the kids are calling it these days.”
Sounds like an interesting enough concept, I pondered. And it’s always worth to fund independent game designers, even if it is just used to pay for EA’s protection racket.
Death Road to Canada doesn’t have a story; it’s a very fill-in-the-blank scenario and it’s all summed up in a three-sentence text screen. The zombie apocalypse has happened in some assuredly inevitable way and you take control of a random citizen who is attempting to reach safety in Canada. Along the way you collect resources, add NPC friends to your travelling group and level up your character’s qualities, eg. stamina, charisma, strength, etc.
Oh, and you also fight zombies. Let’s not forget that there’s plenty of those hanging around. The combat is simple enough, just hit the attack key and back away for a few seconds when your character starts to tire out, but the number of zombies nearby increases with each new level, almost ridiculously so. Your first trip out has the number you’d expect to be near the likes of a supermarket, but then on the next visit there’s enough of them there to fill a third of London. Maybe the toilet paper craze struck again (yeah, remember the time we thought that was the craziest thing we’d see all year?).
I was enjoying Downing Street to Canada up to a point, and by “a point”, I mean fifteen minutes in. Random character generation does admittedly add more tension to proceedings than I first thought it would. There is little on this Earth more galling than surviving the harsh wastes as Indiana Buckington, adventurer extraordinaire with a billion charisma points, only to break your neck after tripping on your own shoelace and respawning as sweaty neckbeard Joey Slothman (complete with all the charm of a shopping trolley in the public pond).
That was until I found out that you can save a generated character pre-game if you want to, meaning they’re always there for you to pick when you have to try again. Hell, there’s even an option to make your own, so the bottom of the self-proclaimed “rogue-like” genre plops out, like you’ve mishandled a steak pie with too much filling and not enough pastry.
The game also likes to pretend that anything bad that happens to you is entirely your fault, but don’t believe it, as this is how abusive relationships get started. Where you travel for a level is technically up to you: in any scenario, you get a choice of four options and you have to choose whichever one you feel won’t end with the newly-undead making hot dog meat out of your joy department. Between missions, when you’re simply driving your car around, you might lose a certain number of resources based on you and your group members’ moods or skills. For example, a consistent factor you have to account for is losing 10 lots of gas every time you finish a level. But then the game randomly jerks the steering wheel in the direction of Dickingaround Avenue and starts taking other resources from you for absolutely no justifiable reason.
“You’ve hit a road block! Lost five food points!”
“Bandits have randomly been conjured from the ether! Lost fifteen bullets!”
“You scraped your car roof on a low-hanging bridge! Lost another five food points, why the hell not?”
Look at me, everyone: it took nine paragraphs for me to arrive at the conclusion that Hitchhiker’s Guide to Cameroon is basically okay. It’s an entertaining enough little yarn that should do fine when it comes to staving off the massacre for the next few weeks. It’s beautifully designed with a ridiculously good main theme, yet I don’t think it’s something I’ll be returning to very soon. But you know what, the developers clearly want to appeal to a more niche audience than bigger releases and honestly, I can respect that. This is for people who like brief, repeating challenges which are mixed up just enough each time. They don’t need the likes of me bumbling around their treehouse club.
It’s not even enough to write a full-size review for, really, its charm is in its simplicity. What else can I say about it? Oh, if you like road trips but think the journey is missing that essential threat of death at each fuel stop, then this is the game for you?