After a crapload of puzzles, strategy games and japanese novels where high-school girls have have inappropriate intimacy with the spawn of Great Cthulhu, it’s nice to kick back once in a while and enjoy good ol’ first person murder in space. As I scrolled my Steam Library I came across something called “Dead Effect”, which appeared to take ques from the legendary Doom 3, so I immediately went “Choo choo! All aboard the atmospheric masochism train!” and pressed “Install”.
As a hardened space marine, you wake up from criostasis in the middle of a spaceship infested by zombies. Your laughably american accent communicates with the laughably german accent of a doctor, as he guides you through the various areas of the spaceship, while you exterminate any and all undead in your path. There is also a subplot about you also being infected by the virus but that doesn’t seem to do much other than give you a slow-mo power, so you might as well ignore it.
Lots of guns, lots of zombies, get to work marine.
Well, actually there is also a subplot where the scientist with the laughably german accent turns out to be evil. I’m pretty sure some of the clans roaming the wild Amazon raiforest didn’t see it coming, but everyone else had probably figured it out by the first 5 seconds of dialogue with him. EVEN THE ZOMBIES.
As I said earlier, Dead Effect looks like it takes inspiration from Doom 3, but the gameplay reminds more of Killing Floor. Each room you explore is filled to the brim with slow-moving undead, and you job is usually to clear them all out. This might sound monotonous after the first 2-3 times, but I assure you it’s not. For one thing, anything othen than headshots barely causes the zombies to flinch a bit, meaning your shots have to be aimed perfectly. For another, THERE ARE TOO MANY ZOMBIES.
It’s one of the things I loved about Dead Effect. You enter a room full of confidence, mindlessly wiping out dozens of the undead, as you slowly come to realise you’re running low on ammo and there are still 50 of the f@ckers shambling your way. It’s the movie cliche, where you underestimate the numbers of the enemy and after your first moments of badassery, soon become overwhelmed. It was a refreshing, constant filling of dread, that I couldn’t get enough of, and which I honestly started missing once the f@ckers with the grenades appeared.
You know Dead Effect, we’d be perfectly fine if you just kept to the slow-moving zombies with the horrifying numbers. It’s what made your atmosphere great and cinematic. But when you started adding the “special” kind of undead, you just f@cked up. First off, we have the fat f@cks that always manage to get you. They are taller than the rest of the zombies and can spew blood with the accuracy of a sniper rifle to you as a projectile, forcing you to disrupt your methodical wiping of the first rows of zombies crawling your way so you can shoot the f@cker at the far corner of the room.
Then, we have the chainsaw and minigun guys, both of which act as mini-bosses and whom you’ll easily dispatch even on the hardest difficulties. AND THEN, we have the @ssholes with the grenades. Good, f@cking, god. To say that they represent the worst Dead Effect has to offer would be an understatement. Coated in security armor and helmets, these guys throw grenades with the accuracy of a baseball player so long as they have a clean shot, capable of insta-killing you even after you have been fully upgraded. From what I understood, the devs’ idea was that you’d use them to get rid of the horde faster, except that in reality such a technique is SUICIDAL.
The grenades have sort of a locking mechanism to them, to the point where they can slightly change directions mid air to land exactly at your feet, leading you to another f@cking reload for the 4th time due to the same zombie. These d!ckheads will be the bane of your existance in Dead Effect, especially when you consider that they can self-destruct if you get too close to them, more than once taking me with them.
Other than the story mode, which manages to be ruined thanks to the @ssholes with the grenades alone, the game boasts a survival mode, where you must live through continuous waves of undead for three minutes and biohazard mode, where you have to kill waves of undead as fast as possible. All of these mods earn you money, which you can spend on permanent weapon upgrades or new weapon purchasing, a feature completely useless since even on hell difficulty the starting pistol and machine guns are more than enough to get the job done. Out of curiosity I bought the most expensive weapon in the game, a crossbow with explosive arrows, and soon enough died from my own explosions as the zombie with a C4 arrow on its belly lashed on to me.
Normally I go through the visuals first and then move on to the sound, but here I will make an exception: The voice acting is AWFUL. At first I thought they were parodying the typical tough talk you see in movies but no, apparently that’s honestly how the developers thought a doctor and a marine should talk. It’s what you’d call “insultingly bad”, and the reason you’ll wish there was a skip-dialogue button as you navigate through the corridors of the spaceship.
Back to the visuals though, Dead Effect gives a largely average performance. At full graphics I have to admit that the basic undead looked pretty cool and menacing, but everything else was extremely low-res, with the usual surface glistening showing that a lot more work could have been put on on polishing the level design.
The button mapping was also largely uncomfortable, wiith the GPS button located at “H”, and the super-power (time-slow) button located at “Y”, with no reconfiguring option. One struggles to imagine what the hell they were thinking when they decided “H” and “Y” were convenient buttons for something you have to press constantly, but I digress (you know, “Q” and “E” haven’t gone anywhere guys.).
Hm… It sounds way worse than I had in mind when I began writing this. Dead Effect offers you interesting, atmospheric first levels, when it showcases the zombie hordes, but as you move forward and start reaching the endgame content, the enemies start becoming increasingly annoying. The greande guys alone can ruin the entire experience, so with some regret, I cannot recommend Dead Effect for purchase.
- Really good atmsosphere at the start.
- Fantastic basic zombie design.
- Lots of unlockables.
- The initial levels are great with the horde.
- The story isn't even
- Ridiculous voice acting.
- Environment graphics needed work.
- Not enough things to do with the gold bars.
- Little level variety.
- It's basically a worse version of Killing Floor.
- That @sshole with the grenades.