This week, Gaming Irresponsibly is choosing yet another zombie themed indie game. Yes, there are more zombie indie games than there are people to play them, but this one is definitely worth the time and money. CSR Studios, a one man company created by John Common, created what could be one of the most fantastic games to ever grace the Xbox Live Indie Game marketplace, Dead Pixels. Dead Pixels is described as an “8-bit zombie simulator”, where you move about a two dimensional world, blasting waves of zombies, while rummaging through abandoned shops for supplies. The game has elements of role-playing as well, allowing you to visit traders which will sell you upgrades that level up specific traits such as luck, strength, bargaining and so on. The game blends this role-playing element with arcade style action with fluidity and grace, and must be experienced for those of you who may love both indie games or zombies.
Dead Pixels thrusts you into New Hexington, NY, a city that has been taken over by zombies. A toxic waste spill, from a local chemical plant,found its way into the water supply, and in three short days, turned all of the dead into living. After a botched attempt by the military to control the situation, the city was quarantined until further notice. Lucky for you, a group of survivors have a helicopter on the other side of the city, and its your only way out. To get there, you must fight your way through the streets of New Hexington collecting supplies, and avoiding death. The story is nothing to write home about, but it serves the purpose of driving your character from one end of the city to the other. The real greatness of Dead Pixels, is the gameplay.
The game plays much like many older arcade-style, 8-bit, two dimensional side scrollers. You can move up and down, side to side, using your weapons to defeat enemies and using power-ups to aid you. Pretty simple, but the game gets deeper by adding a role-playing element as well. While progressing through Dead Pixels, you will have the ability to visit abandoned shops and store. These shops and stores will be home to a variety of power-ups, valuables, medical supplies and you new best friends, guns. All of these items can be picked up, but don’t get too excited, the more weapons and swag you tote with you, the closer you get to becoming over-encumbered, which will more than likely make you zombie bait. There is also the occasional trader located within the city. These are marked by green arrows pointing towards the door, or signs painted in green as well indicating that there are living still inside these buildings. Once at the trader, you can purchase goods such as health and ammunition or sell off some of the valuable items you snagged along the way. There is also the choice to upgrade specific abilities. You can add more strength, allowing you to carry more stuff, or upgrade you melee or weapon skills, which will grant more explosive attacks.
Another great thing about Dead Pixels is the style and flare that it presents to the gamer. The screen in general has a 70′s horror movie feel to it, as the screen seems to crackle and pop with small imperfections strewn across its landscape. The in game intermission is a nice touch as well, poking fun at older movies and drive-ins with adds for concessions. You may notice, while playing through Dead Pixels, that the game pays more than just an homage to the first Resident Evil game. The weapons feature the last names of the main characters, for example the Redfield Beretta or the Valentine Shotgun. You will also notice some of the streets named after them as well, such as Wesker Avenue. Some of the more subtle tributes will include umbrella shops in the mall, painted with an alternating red and white pattern, as well as, the Moonlight Sonata playing in the background of the trader shops throughout the city.
Overall, Dead Pixels is a must buy. Despite most zombie games catering to a specific audience, Dead Pixels does a great job of opening it up to everyone, giving each something great. It is a great 2D action arcade style game, with deep RPG elements. The combat is amazing, the controls are good and John Common did a fantastic job of crating a small world with such great ambiance. The game also features a few extra chapters, The Solution and The Last Stand, so those that haven’t gotten enough Dead Pixels, can have a little more. If you don’t want to face the pending zombie apocalypse alone, the game does feature a local multiplayer, where you can bring along some friends to blast the undead with. If you want to try Dead Pixels, you can head on over to the Xbox Live Indie Game marketplace and purchase it for 80 Microsoft Points ($1.00).
Every week, Indie Game of the Week will feature a popular, and entertaining Indie Game and share it with our community. Do you have a suggestion for next weeks game? Have you played an indie game lately that knocked your socks off and want to help tell the world? Then follow Ryan Hillis on Twitter @rchillis. You can also like us on Facebook, and leave us feedback on what titles you would like to see featured.