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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.