Deadly 30 – PC
Developer: Ignatus Zuk and Gonzalo Villagomez
Publisher: Headup Games
Release Date: January 8, 2014
ESRB Rating: N/A
Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10
Reviewed by Malefico
Deadly 30, created by a two-man team of indie developers, is a retro-style survival horror game in which the player assumes the role of one of three characters and tries to survive 30 successively more challenging nights of assault by the ravening undead. The game combines charming, old-school style graphics with fast action and more than a little panic as you run back and forth trying to keep the flesh-eaters out of your base.
Deadly 30 controls are quite simple. Movement is accomplished by using the W, A, S, and D keys, while weapons are aimed and fired with the mouse. Various objects in the environment can be interacted with by tapping or holding E, and Health Packs can be used by pressing F. While the controls are responsive, I did find that the weapons seemed to glitch on occasion, not firing with the first press of the button.
Game play is not complex either. You start the game with an American character who’s proficient in machine guns. Two other characters become available as you progress: a Russian who specializes in rifles, and a German who favors shotguns. Once you unlock the additional characters, you can switch between them in order to take control of your favorite. The game is basically divided into two periods: daytime, when you can venture from your base in search of scrap metal, used to upgrade defenses like barricades and boxes, upgrade your own armor and boots (makes you move faster), and build better weapons, and night, when the horde closes in around the base looking for fresh meat.
Deadly 30 graphics are done up in cartoonish style, and give the game a retro flavor very reminiscent of the 16-bit console era. The characters are rendered adequately, although character and enemy animations are limited. Game map backgrounds are varied, but to my mind are a bit lacking in detail. However, it’s easy to identify where you are relative to home base and there’s some nice, smooth parallax scrolling that adds a sense of depth to the 2D world.
Game music in Deadly 30 provides a sinister ambiance to the game play, and throws in some industrial elements over a generally minimalist theme. While it may not be award-winning stuff, I never had the urge to shut it off and like most games, it quickly blends into the background and adds to the experience, never becoming a distraction or annoyance.
Sound effects are fairly repetitive. There’s some decent voice-over work for character speech; aside from that the zombies are limited to a few groans and grunts and the weapon effects are bare-bones as well.
The Bottom Line
Deadly 30 is a challenging game. While it looks like any number of retro side-scrollers, it’s very much a survival-horror title at its core. Player characters have decent mobility which helps you avoid some damage, but unlike your basic platformer aiming your weapons is a huge part of the game. Zombies go down fairly quickly if you hit them in the head. If not, it may take 7-8 shots to put paid to a single ghoul, and after the first night they usually attack in groups of three or more. Also, your base defenses are destroyed fairly quickly – spending money early on upgrades helps in this area.
The game quickly piles on the pain, throwing faster, more aggressive zombies and larger foes that soak up considerable damage at you in ever-increasing numbers. The developers did a good job of creating a number of distinct enemy types that require different tactics. While your weapons are adequate for the job, they take a brief interval to reload, more than enough time for zombies to surround you and deal heavy damage. Luckily, you automatically switch to a machete when the enemies reach a minimum distance from you. Unluckily, they are often able to strike between swings. The base area itself, while fairly small, is just large enough so you can’t see what’s going on behind you as you rush from side to side fighting off the zombies.
Weapon, armor and other defensive upgrades are expensive and require that after you survive an attack, you immediately go in search of scrap to construct better defenses for the next siege. You have to plan your purchases wisely. Even so, you have to be ready to fight hard to stay alive every night, then be ready to collect your scrap the next day so you can repair and upgrade to deal with the progressively more difficult attacks.
One nice thing is that you are often able to find vehicles that can be dismantled to yield a large amount of valuable scrap, and these and other stashes are replenished in the areas surrounding the base each day. There are a number of areas located on either side of the home base, and though there are some zombies wandering around, they are neither as numerous or quick to attack as those that attack the base each night. Be warned, the farther you travel from home, the more likely you will be trapped outside of the base when darkness falls. No bueno.
As you meet and incorporate the other two survivors, the game does get a bit easier, but as in most games AI companions are no substitute for other humans. Still, your computer-controlled pals are not counter-productive to the effort, though you do have to keep a careful eye on them to make sure they don’t get into serious trouble.
Deadly 30 is an interesting and offbeat take on the survival horror genre. Where most games of this ilk require stealth and caution, this title blends frantic action with careful planning and wraps it up in a neat retro package.
I thought the developers achieved a good balance of action, planning and foraging to prepare your base for the nightly onslaughts of the dead. This title looks like a side-scrolling platformer, but the gameplay is all survival-horror. When you consider the meat and potatoes were coded by two guys, it’s an impressive feat.
Some minor quibbles I had with the game were the relatively primitive animations and the lack of detail in the environments. And, as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, it seemed the weapons would pick the worst time to malfunction. Replay value is average; although there’s nothing new to see after you beat it once, each game will unfold a bit differently depending on the random placement of scrap. You’ll never be able to augment your defenses the same way at the same time twice.
Other than that, this game is definitely worth a look if you want to play a survival-horror title that incorporates some intriguing mechanics and progressively frenetic action. I’d say fans of platformers will enjoy Deadly 30 as well, provided they understand they’re getting into more than a simple shoot-em-up.
Available from a number of sites and Steam for under $5, Deadly 30 is definitely worth a try. It’s tough enough to provide some real challenge and frustration, and has a singular charm all its own.
7 out of 10
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