|Release Date||June 20, 2017|
Review code provided
Dead Exit is a digital card game that marries base management and the zombie apocalypse. Players control bases that are under siege from the undead and must stockpile resources to escape the city while fighting for survival. You can play on your own or with others, making alliances to try and survive together (or stabbing each other in the back for a shot at escape).
Dead Exit manages to pull of the difficult feat of being a card game with a great amount of depth while still being fairly easy to pick up and learn. There are a lot of mechanics to learn here, with a wealth of strategic options available to players. Each card in Dead Exit can have up to three different effects, which vary depending where you play it on the board, with a huge amount of different ways they can affect the game.
But after a couple of quick matches at a lower difficulty you’ll have already picked up most of the game. Despite the large amounts of text on some cards or the seemingly complicated and convoluted ruleset, Dead Exit is actually a very simple game to learn and play successfully. Once you start figuring out the deeper strategies of the game it’s actually quite compelling and a hell of a lot of fun with friends.
The path to victory is simple – you’ve got three moves per turn and must get a car, survivors, some food and some fuel and high tail it out of the city before zombies overrun your base and chew on your mangled remains. Your base contains six spaces for cards, spaces which can also be occupied by zombies that follow you back from the city when you explore to get more cards (or can be sent to you by your friends if they’re bastards). If every space in your base has a zombie in it then it’s game over.
There’s an addictive gameplay loop here, especially at higher difficulties or when playing with particularly devious friends. Dead Exit features robust difficulty customisation – allowing you to change the number of bases and amounts of resources you’ll need to stockpile to escape. You can also toggle a setting that has an extra zombie show up at your base every turn, if you’re feeling particularly masochistic.
While the lower difficulties don’t really provide much challenge, these higher difficulties expose the true depth of the game. Playing with multiple bases, huge resource requirements and an unending stream of the undead heading your way forces you to truly consider each and every move you make. It also shows off an excellent game in its best light
This is made possible by the excellently designed cards. Each card has a multitude of different effects that can happen depending on where you play it. Different things happen if you play a card inside your base, outside your base or if you sacrifice it altogether. The sheer amount of different options you’ll have at your disposal once you’ve got a few cards in your hand lends Dead Exit its impressive mechanical depth.
Playing The Hero outside your base, for example, allows you to kill a zombie outside and keep it if it’s another character card. Playing him inside lets you kill a zombie inside and take another character back into your hand. Sacrificing him altogether lets you kill all zombies inside your base and put all other characters at your base back in your hand. Great in an emergency, but then of course that means The Hero is dead.
Characters and vehicles can be played one turn, then retrieved the next turn to be played again, adding to your tactical options. This means that you don’t need to worry too much about playing a card at the wrong time, though if you have a particularly powerful combo it can dull the challenge of the game and be frustrating for any other players in a multiplayer game.
Limiting players to only three actions per turn goes some way to alleviate this issue, but it doesn’t eliminate it altogether. It’s a great system that can make things quite tense as matches go on at higher difficulties. Three actions may seem like a lot at first, but once you’re deeper into a game it can feel quite restrictive, forcing you to be careful about what actions you take.
Multiplayer is clearly what Dead Exit was designed for. There are certain cards that are redundant in single-player, unless you wanted to screw yourself over. It doesn’t massively impact your fun during single-player, but sometimes you’re going to find a card that’s completely useless to you. Sending zombies to other bases is a pretty terrible tactic when you control all of them, but it’s pretty funny when your friend controls that other base.
While the the player base is quite small, making finding an online game difficult, the game features local hotseat multiplayer for up to 8 people and it shouldn’t be too difficult to convince your friends to play a match or two. Dead Exit is a great party game – it’s a genuinely fun card game that just happens to take place on a computer instead of on a tabletop.
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