Review: Metal Dead (Indie)

MetalDeadOne of the greatest things about going to PAX was going to meet all the developers who made some of my favourite games. Although, if you’re in the Indie area of the expo hall, it’s about meeting all the people who could potentially become fans.

When I was walking around the expo hall during that rainy PAX weekend, I met the guys at Walk Thru Walls who were demoing their new game Metal Dead Encore. I had a great chat about their point-and-click zombie game with the heavy metal soundtrack and the Steam Greenlight project they’ve got going on.

After the PAX Pox and PPD (Post-PAX Depression) set in, I received an email from Liam from Walk Thru Walls with a handy little link to their previous game, Metal Dead and thus, this review was born!

I have to apologise to the guys at Walk Thru about how long this has taken. Not long after PAX ended, I got horrendously sick (pretty sure that I was carrying some kind of new plague) and then Uni started. So yeah, sorry.

Metal Dead brings nostalgia rushing back with their point-and-click adventure game set in the zombie apocalypse. If that doesn’t get you interested, it’s got a pretty bitchin’ 16-bit metal soundtrack to go along with it, which is what drew me into the Metal Dead Encore display at PAX Australia.

Based around the adventures of Malcolm and his friend Ronnie when they find themselves smack dab in the middle of zombie apocalypse after a disagreement about their final destination, you run around trying to figure out what’s going on, meeting some pretty interesting characters like Doctor Fritz von Fechenhiem; a mad scientist who sends you out on some pretty crazy errands and eventually turns your best friend into an undead, disembodied head.

The writing by Liam O’Sullivan has been compared to Tim Schafer or Ron Gilbert which is not only a massive compliment but unsurprising since the game was inspired by 90’s era LucasArts games. The bromance between Malcolm and Ronnie is borderline gay, with Ronnie’s beard being the subject of many great conversations. The NPCs aren’t afraid to tell you what they’re thinking and offer some great dialog. Sometimes conversations can be a little long in the tooth, but they’re well-written, so it isn’t a huge concern.

The writing and humour compliments the 2D drawing style well. The art style exaggerates the zombies in the right areas, can be kind of gross and completely hilarious. If it was rendered in 3D, I don’t think the game would have the same appeal. There’s something delightful and charming about the art in Metal Dead and it works well with the story premise and the low-fi music. It gives the game a feel of grit.

I love the way the guys at Walk Thru Walls have put the game together. They’ve taken a standard point-and-click adventure game and made it just that bit more enjoyable. To say that the zombie apocalypse thing has been played to death is a bit of an overstatement (and a totally implied pun) but they’ve taken the idea and added well needed humour, an awesome soundtrack and some very interesting characters and made it enjoyable again. Obviously, Walk Thru Walls are on to something with Metal Dead: Encore being featured on Steam’s Project Greenlight. They’ve taken the little criticism reviewers could find in this gem of a game and worked on improving Metal Dead: Encore for a wider release and distribution on Steam. It’s cheap, it’s dirty in the best sense and it’s a lot of fun!

You can check out Metal Dead on Steam here (or buy it here here) and Metal Dead: Encore on Steam here!

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