It's the apocalypse so head on up to Canada in the hopes of a better life like so many Americans already do. Be sure to pack enough food, gas, medical supplies, and bullets as I'm sure you'll need anything that you can get your filthy American hands on!
Death Road to Canada is a roguelike with zombies where your goal is to survive. Wow, that sounds like the most generic game imaginable. There are countless roguelikes, games with zombies, and survival games and here's an indie that combines all three concepts. However, Death Road to Canada is more unique than you'd expect. For starters, it has a Choose Your Own Adventure style campaign where all you do is drive down a linear road while choosing options whenever you're prompted with various situations. Your choices affect your chances of success in a profound way in that you can be heavily rewarded or meet your unfortunate demise at any given moment. It's definitely a unique progression system that'll have you thinking critically at each step so you can finally make it to the presumably zombie-free country of Canada. One sec, let me look out my window. Yes, there are no zombies here... yet.
Simply driving automatically down a linear road wouldn't make for much of a game so thankfully, you have to stop from time to time in order to retrieve supplies such as gasoline, food, ammo, and medical kits. Obviously, if you run out of gas then you'll have to run down the road and the situation turns appropriately dire while doing so. Not having enough food and medical supplies can be equally (if not more) devastating. Anyway, during these brief scenarios, you basically raid buildings while fending off encroaching hordes of zombies. You can pick up any weapons that you find and each character can hold up to three. Speaking of characters, they are randomly generated or you can create your own and you can also play cooperatively with a friend so there are a lot of possibilities.
In addition to the cool decision-driven narrative and well-implemented survival mechanics, the graphics and sound are pretty good, too. The visuals aren't all that impressive but they are quite goofy which helps establish the overall humorous tone. Characters bounce around as they walk and zombies explode into organic chunks whenever you kill them. It's quirky and violent but charming in a weird way. When it comes to audio, the soundtrack is great whenever it kicks in as you'll hear plenty of funky tunes when you raid buildings and bounce around slaying zombies. Overall, there's nothing to complain about on a presentational level but you also won't be blown away.
Unfortunately, the core gameplay of Death Road to Canada gets repetitive very fast. After raiding area after area and playing all the way from the beginning for the dozenth time, it all starts feeling all too familiar and tedious. Therefore, it's definitely best played in short bursts as opposed to trying to master it during lengthy play sessions. Additionally, the combat isn't very satisfying. Simply tapping the attack button to swing a found item and throw a piece of furniture here and there just isn't all that engaging, especially when a horde of zombies seemingly comes from nowhere only to surround and kill you. Finally, although the decision making aspect is cool, I found the results to be far too random. Sometimes, making a bad decision that seemed like the right one ended up having way too harsh of a result such as making my allies leave me which resulted in my demise shortly after. It simply doesn't feel fair whenever this happens.
Death Road to Canada may look like a generic indie game but it's surprisingly unique in its decision-based campaign. It's too bad that the gameplay relies so much on repetition and luck because it would have provided a much more satisfying experience if it didn't.
- + Interesting and unique Choose Your Own Adventure style campaign progression
- + Nifty survival mechanics
- + Cool soundtrack and goofy visuals
- - Gameplay gets repetitive very fast
- - Combat isn't very satisfying
- - Events are often far too random