Review | Death Road to Canada

Canada always seems to be the goal of post-apocalyptic trav­el­ers seek­ing respite from the assault of the undead. I sup­pose the rea­son­ing is that it’s cold-enough up there that the zom­bie hordes won’t be able to cope, but Death Road to Canada offers a much more silly and awe­some expla­na­tion for this. I won’t dis­cuss this here, you’ll have to make it to the bor­der your­self to find out. Instead, let’s talk about the goofy jour­ney that Death Road to Canada puts you through in this pixel-based brawler.

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Start­ing off, there are a lot of dif­fer­ent jour­neys to choose from in Death Road to Canada based on the length and dif­fi­culty you’re look­ing to under­take. You can take a shorter route, which gives you less time to pre­pare, but doesn’t take as long. You can increase the like­li­hood that cus­tom or rare char­ac­ters will show up to make things a bit eas­ier as well. If you’re feel­ing like a chal­lenge, there are also a large num­ber of options for increas­ing the dif­fi­culty, though the game is plenty tough on its own merit. Once you’ve picked a mode and selected a start­ing char­ac­ter, then it’s time for that cold and zany drive north.

There are two major por­tions of the jour­ney in Death Road to Canada, bro­ken down by dif­fer­ent sorts of game­play. One is where you are on the road, mak­ing deci­sions about deal­ing with ban­dits, camp­ing and fix­ing the car. This sec­tion reminds me more of The Ore­gon Trail, in that most of your deci­sions are made via text and then the con­se­quences are suf­fered auto­mat­i­cally. Thank­fully, no one has died of dysen­tery ran­domly in any of my playthroughs, but death can still come swiftly and unex­pect­edly if poor deci­sions are made here. One of my favorite run­ning gags with this sec­tion is that you almost always have the option of just yelling “COOL IT!” in every sit­u­a­tion. It works about as often as you might think, almost never, but it was an amaz­ingly hilar­i­ous moment when it did work once for me.

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The other part if the jour­ney involves loot­ing and sur­viv­ing the swarms of the undead. These sec­tions play more like a beat ‘em up style game, where you’re using var­i­ous weapons you’ve acquired through­out your trav­els to plow through the zom­bie masses. The thing that struck me most dur­ing this sec­tion was the catchy and cheery music play­ing dur­ing these loot­ing sequences. It actu­ally fits the goofy them­ing around Death Road to Canada quite well, but it felt a lit­tle off in terms of a bleak zom­bie apoc­a­lypse. That is, until I stayed out a lit­tle too late and let the sun go down dur­ing one loot­ing sequence. The music shifted and the tonal change hit me like a ton of bricks, send­ing me pan­ick­ing back to my car as the zom­bie horde grew to an immense size and my sight was blocked by the darkness.

In most jour­neys, when the orig­i­nal hero has been felled, the jour­ney has come to an abrupt end. Death Road to Canada dis­agrees with this phi­los­o­phy and argues that if there is even one per­son remain­ing, why not con­tinue along to the end. Any time the sur­vivor you con­trol dies, if you have at least one com­pan­ion with you, then con­trol will be shifted to a new sur­vivor to com­plete the quest. Com­pan­ions do require extra food, but can be handy in com­bat­ing the zom­bie hordes and car­ry­ing on if you become chow for the undead. These com­pan­ions can be found ran­domly, or actively recruited in camps found along the road. Not all char­ac­ters are made equally how­ever, and often the com­pan­ions you find will have cer­tain strengths and weak­nesses. In one run, I found a very handy mechanic, who saved my car from break­ing down mul­ti­ple times, but they were ter­ri­ble in a fight.

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Though each jour­ney starts off fairly fresh, Zombo points can be earned through­out your runs to unlock bet­ter traits for your char­ac­ters that you use. This is the one aspect of pro­gres­sion made through­out the game. It’s a lit­tle tough to get your head around this sys­tem and I wish it were a lit­tle eas­ier to see what you’ve already unlocked, but I like the idea that there can be some pro­gres­sion, but each run is still basi­cally fresh.

The humor in Death Road to Canada is prob­a­bly on its best traits. The goofi­ness is ever present, but doesn’t over­stay its wel­come. There were mul­ti­ple gen­uine laughs out of my var­ied runs through Death Road to Canada and the writ­ing is quite clever in the dri­ving sec­tions. It can be a lit­tle cheesy at times, but noth­ing too egre­gious as to war­rant much more than an eye roll here or there.

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Pros:

  • Tough dif­fi­culty makes a win feel so much more sweet
  • Clever and funny writ­ing through­out the dri­ving sections
  • Music tonal shift from day to night floored me

Cons:

  • Game is VERY hard, which could turn some peo­ple off
  • Zombo Point sys­tem is a lit­tle hard to under­stand and dif­fi­cult to manage
  • Jokes are occa­sion­ally cheesy

Death Road to Canada is a goofy and fun romp to the Cana­dian bor­der in a zombie-filled world. The dif­fer­ent game­play sec­tions are han­dled well and the writ­ing is sharp and clever, enter­tain­ing through­out the jour­ney. The ran­dom events that hap­pen through­out each playthrough make them all inter­est­ing in their own way and there’s a good amount of cus­tomiza­tion that can be done to add the player’s own spin. Now make sure to COOL IT and go grab a copy of Death Road to Canada today on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nin­tendo Switch, iOS and Android.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

PS4 review copy pro­vided by Plan of Attack.