Fancy dying over and over again on a seemingly eternal road trip? Set against several magnificent compositions of chiptune splendour, Death Road To Canada will have you either giggling on the sofa with your friends or literally zombie-ing out alone for hours on the couch trying to get to Canada by yourself.
On the surface, Death Road To Canada seems like a fairly simple, roguelike, eight-bit, choose-your-own-adventure game with a healthy dose of simplistic, button-mashing zombie bashing and a randomly generated narrative. There isn’t much of a tutorial but the game is littered with pop-up tips and the menus are pretty easy to explore. You basically start out with a car, very limited supplies (fuel and food) and a buddy who can be controlled by a second player or the AI.
You spend your days driving, choosing whether to loot certain buildings or areas, deciding whether it’s worth the risk to save a random character dressed like a creepy Garfield who can sometimes join your party and, most of all, trying not to run out of weapons and supplies because then you’ll probably die. That last bit in particular can make the gameplay feel tense. In some scenarios, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by zombie hordes that will proceed to tear out your guts and chew noisily on your warm flesh. If you’re out in a forest with a chainsaw and plenty of fuel, it’s all good and dandy. If you only have a needle and a flashlight however, you’d better run for your life in the dark sewers.
Once you start playing a little more, you’ll get a sense of how statistics can make or break the road trip. Characters are granted certain traits and skills, which can influence how situations turn out. For example, a character with the Charm trait can sometimes get free survival lessons at trader camps. A character with a high level of Mechanic skill can repair the car when it breaks down. Skills need leveling up and can be done so permanently with Zombie points. You also need to keep everyone’s morale high enough; if a character is too unhappy, they can decide to leave quietly one night and steal half of the supplies as they leg it! Death Road To Canada can feel pretty punishing at times; things don’t always turn out the way you think they will.
Nevertheless, you could spend hours trying to survive the zombie apocalypse and reach Canada as each road trip generates new characters, scenarios and more bizarre humour. You could pick up a character wearing a horse mask, a katana-wielding neckbeard or a dishevelled Santa Claus armed with a shotgun. Your car could be a hippie van, a giant hotdog van, or a fancy sportscar. Your party could be joined by a dog. You could be a dog. With a flamethrower. Death Road To Canada is seriously replayable and highly addictive. I’ve not made it to Canada yet; the closest I’ve been is one day’s drive away and then I watched my avatar get destroyed by a massive horde outside a log cabin. In other attempts, I’ve also watched my avatar sulk and run away with most of the supplies. This upset my husband (and his avatar) considerably.
Originally released as a PC game, Death Road To Canada is now available for iOS and Android. What are you waiting for? The nights are getting long, winter is coming, the zombies are closing in and you had better hope you have enough fuel in your tiny little car. And that you run into the Rare Character Anime Girl and her Lovely Wand which fires glowing heart-shaped projectiles that are very efficient at destroying zombies. And that your controller’s batteries don’t suddenly run out of juice.