Trial and error is the name of the game with Death Road to Canada. Beyond the brief tutorial you’re not given much of anything to go on and many of the game’s mechanics are found when you die and restart with the knowledge of how you died, and what to do next.
On the surface, Death Road to Canada is a road trip through a zombie infested America to the apparent safe haven of Canada, starting with a car with little fuel and rations, and a buddy that can be controlled by a second player, the aim is to make it through the zombie apocalypse in one piece, taking as many people with you as you see fit.
And it’s important that allies are taken too, as each one comes with a unique set of traits and skills, which will affect how they behave during combat, as well as how the story progresses in terms of dialogue. Both the allies and the story are randomly generated, with arbitrary choices on whether to carry on through an infested town, or search it for food and supplies, you’re also given the ability to send one of your allies to search for supplies, or destroy a bandit camp, though be warned, it does not always go to plan, in particular if you pick a mission that does not play to your allies’ strengths which, and you could end up one fewer on the road or, if your ally decides to betray you, game over.
These factors turn the game into somewhat of a Russian Roulette, events are completely random, allowing for a completely unique story each playthrough. This is the kind of procedural generation that is effective as it truly allows the player to make the story their own, few games other than Death Road to Canada have managed to achieve this feat so well, and it will take more than a handful of playthroughs before you can truly experience everything the game has to offer.
The gameplay seems simplistic on the surface, but the undead are a tough enemy to beat, particularly when they overwhelm you, and they will take advantage of any miss-step you make, whether it be running out of fuel attempting to push the car just that little bit further, or thinking that one last ration is enough. It really adds to the tension of this game as the threat is always there, however understated it may be, zombies are waiting for just one mistake before they punish you, you’ll find no Boomers or Tank’s à la Left 4 Dead her, just an immense swarm of moaning, shambling corpses.
Visually, this game is very similar to games like Enter the Gungeon or Hyper Light Drifter, PC options are fairly limited to just windowed and full-screen, and the game runs pretty much perfectly on my system. The ability to plug-in a second controller for a second player is a welcome addition also, and co-op with this game is a lot of fun. There’s a lot of humour in this game which, unlike the particularly crass humour of Zombie Night Terror is actually pretty clever and downright hilarious at times, the sounds are very retro inspired, and actually a little irritating so I did find myself switching them off after a while.
The randomness of Death Road to Canada may put off some, the difficulty can spike instantly and whilst you could have done everything right up until this point, the game is unforgiving in its punishment and to some that may seem incredibly frustrating. Though for many this game will prove to be a game that takes up a lot of time with its replayability, remembering to embrace the randomness and the games jittering pace.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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