We had a play of the Dead Block trial on Xbox Live that was released fairly quietly yesterday, and we were pretty impressed by the quirky title that owes to the B-Movies of the old days and decided you tell you all about it. On first glance Dead Block has a very cute, chunky art style, and to be fair, it really doesn't look like an Unreal Engine 3 powered game. It's unique art-style gives it a certain amount of charm, and alongside the healthy dose of 1950s Rock'n'Roll paranoia, Dead Block is certainly a game that you weren't expecting.
If you haven't heard of this little downloadable title it is the first game from Candygun games and is a zombie defence game. Now, that’s not tower defence, and it's also not third-person slaughter, what Candygun have achieved is a nice little game in-between the two, and put in a few tactics that you would have never even considered when up against zombies.
Each character can lay traps to delay the inevitable arrival of the zombies to their barricaded fortress, whilst every character can set up a simple wooden barricade, other traps are unique to all and are effective in different ways. The demo introduces you to builder Jack Foster; who can lay Frost Traps to momentarily freeze zombies for a swift shattering kill and Boy Scout Mike Bacon; whose toilet trap will slowly hurt zombies in the vicinity of the affected zombie. With a possible three traps to unlock for each character there is a lot of variety possible in the traps that you can lay, the ways that you can dispose of zombies, as well as the chance to combine the effects of multiple traps on zombies as they amble through long hallways.
At it's heart Dead Block is primarily a multiplayer game, with the possibility of up to four-players in control of four characters at a time there is definitely strength in numbers as you team up together for devastating effect, it is important to note that the game does not support online co-op, and is strictly offline split-screen. However this is not to say that the game cannot be enjoyed singularly where you can tag-team of sorts, switching between each playable character and calling them when you need a bit of help.
Whilst playing you will find that a lot of your time revolves around scavenging as you collect resources to build traps; each trap will need specific resources, such as wood for simple barricades, and parts for more complicated traps. The resources are sourced in different ways, for instance if you are looking for a bit of wood you need to smash up the place, Jack's trusty hammer can destroy practically every object in a room, including zombie skulls. However scarcer components such as parts will need to be found inside other objects, such a milk bottles, tool bags, suitcases and the general miscellanea lying around the abandoned buildings via a little mini-game of sorts.
The aim of the game is not to survive a certain amount of waves, neither is it to kill a certain amount of zombies, no, the way to finish a level is to search your current building high and low for an amp, a speaker and a guitar so that you can get your rock on, and force the rock'n'roll zombies to dance to death. I did mention this game was a little quirky right?
As you complete a level you are taken to a different building in the city, as you progress each building gets larger with more suitable entry points for the walking dead, and of course, you'll find a lot more waves of zombies approaching. With 10 single-player levels, as well as 4-player split-screen and eight co-op levels Dead Block is a nice self-contained title to wash your weekend away, it is just a shame that 4-player online play is not possible.
Dead Block is available now on XBLA for 800 MSP and will be available on the Playstation Network from July 20th, give the trial a run for its money, it only scratches the surface of this delightful game, and hopefully you'll find that you enjoy it just as much as we did!