If you watch a lot of gaming Youtubers (such as SeaNanners, TheSyndicateProject, VanossGaming, and so on) you’ve probably seen or at least heard of the game Dead Realm, especially as a lot of these Youtubers were involved in the development of it. Or, should I say, are currently involved in the development, as the game has not yet been completed. Of course, with the wonders of the modern digital age we’re able to play this game before it is actually finished – the early access version is current available on Steam for £10.99.
Dead Realm is an online multiplayer horror game designed to be played in short bursts. The gameplay involves a team of human players trying desperately to escape from a ghost, who is trying to reap them. Once a player gets reaped they join the ghost’s team, and the round finishes when either all players are reaped, or if 5 minutes elapse without all the humans getting caught. Here one can really see the influence of the famous gaming personalities involved: the gameplay is very similar to the Garry’s Mod multiplayer game of Hide ‘n’ Seek, and the jump scare style is highly reminiscent of the various Gmod scary maps and Five Nights at Freddy’s. Dead Realm therefore seems like the natural result of gaming Youtubers getting together to make something themselves. The big questions remains, however, is the game actually any good? My answer, given the game’s early stage of development, is a cautious yes.
Dead Realm manages to do “scary” very well, with jump scares actually making me scream at times. This is due to a mix of the unexpected and sudden ghost you get on your screen when you’re caught by the opposing team, and the fact that the ghosts (Wolfman, Little Baby and The Butcher) look rather frightening. On top of this the game is also extremely fun, especially when you’re in a lobby full of decent people. On the other hand, the game can seem a bit boring if you find yourself in a lobby with nobody talking, as you don’t get the same entertaining experience. Another plus point was the enjoyable maps, which are set around different areas in a haunted mansion, and include a lot of hiding places for you and your pals to wait for your inevitable reaping.
As well as this, Dead Realm also has a decoy and shielding system, which allows you to escape the nearing ghost if you have the skill to do so. Using a decoy places a replica of your player model as bait to fool the ghost into thinking they’ve got you, while you secretly run away somewhere else and narrowly escape death. The shield creates a bubble at your current location which ghosts cannot walk through, therefore blocking off an approaching ghost’s path and forcing them to take a detour or wait around for a few valuable seconds before they can come and reap you. I think these features work well, as it shows that this game does have a greater level of depth than a mere Gmod Hide ‘n’ Seek game.
Despite all of these positive points, there are also a few not so positive points about Dead Realm. One of these points is that due to the lack of map variety, everyone knows where the hiding places are, so the game often becomes an exercise in the ghost just combing through them. The controls also failed me quite a bit – when playing as the ghost there was often a problem when pressing left click to reap your target, meaning it would t ake a lot of tries to actually get the person.
Another thing was the lack of variety regarding the character models; the human designs were forgettable and could possibly benefit from having the recognizable Youtubers playable, to further draw in fans of the personalities. And with the ghosts there is no discernable difference between them aside from their aesthetics; it would have been cool to see different specialized abilities for each ghost. However, my main criticism for this game is the server connection issues. Many times I’d find myself struggling to get connected, or get connected to a server which had only one other person in it, and which subsequently kicks you out immediately. All these and the occasional glitch are understandable due to the game being in early access, and it doesn’t stop the game from being entertaining.
Dead Realm is a very good game, and has a lot of potential. The 5 minute bursts of gameplay are well-suited to its style (and, it must be said, to the preference of the YouTube generation who are likely to be buying this game). However, it does require more content and variety to be added, or the experience is liable to become very stale very quickly, with lack of discernable differences in ghosts, and a limited number of stages with hiding spots well-known by anyone who’s played the game a few times. But if you’ve got friends to play it with as well as being a fan of the genre, then I would definitely recommend taking a plunge into the Dead Realm.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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