It’s time to grab your gun and your guitar, to shoot and kick some zombie butt! No, this isn’t a review of Left 4 Dead or Dead Island, and yes, you’re still on HardyDevth. This is, however, a review of a zombie survival game… of sorts.

In Metal Dead, you’re not controlling a trigger-happy action hero, but a metalhead who’s thrown right into the middle of a zombie apocalypse and needs to figure out a way to get out of it. The game starts out with two friends who share a love for metal music, suddenly finding themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. After a gruesome car crash, which sets the tone for the rest of the game in terms of graphic violence, one of the two goes to investigate the source of this undead infestation, while the other remains behind, left for dead (for the moment).

Although I mention graphic violence, the graphic style of the game is what one might call “naïve”, with deliberately crudely drawn lines and simplistic-looking cartoon characters. This is, however, by no means an ugly game. The cartoony graphics work well to give the characters a wide range of comic facial expressions, while there’s enough roughness present throughout to convey that typical zombie apocalypse atmosphere, without having to resort to dull browns and greys.

Where in the graphics department Metal Dead avoids all the usual genre pitfalls, when it comes to characters, it falls right into them… but it does so on purpose. The few survivors of the zombie onslaught are all heavily stereotyped characters, which would normally come across as lazy writing, but in this case it’s a clever parody on the zombie survival genre. That the writing isn’t at all lazy becomes obvious in the game’s many funny moments (both visual and verbal), as well as the trouble the developers have taken writing many unique replies instead of the standard “That doesn’t work” or “I can’t use these things together.”

The puzzles are generally on the easy side, with a few typical adventure game brain twisters mixed in. The game has a built-in hint system for the more outlandish puzzles, but most of the time that told me nothing I hadn’t already figured out on my own. Speaking of which, the game doesn’t always make it clear what it wants you to do next, but then, perhaps that’s appropriate for the setting (I sure wouldn’t know what to do when surrounded by a horde of undead in real life).

The game actually does its best not to progress too linearly. This is accomplished by a rather clever feature: you travel by elevator to different floors of the building most of the game takes place in, with new floors unlocking as you collect access cards. Another thing to collect is achievements, which seems to be almost a necessity for any new game these days.

All in all, Metal Dead is a fun parody of the zombie survival genre, showing just how versatile adventure games can be. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into its making, and even though the MIDI music lacks the punch of actual metal music, and the end falls flat just a bit when compared to the rest of the game, I personally can’t wait to see what Walk Thru Walls Studios will come up with next.

Jan’s Rating: 4 of 5 starks

Note: Try the demo and buy it here.

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