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Dead Race Reviews
Reviewed by James Webb (as revgiblet)
Everyone has at least one Zombie game in them, and this is Justahack's (or so it seems). I'm not sure what I think about this game. Zombies may be overused, even in the world of IF, but there's still life in them yet (ho ho, I made a pun). The problem is making such a common scenario seems fresh and interesting. To me 'Dead Race' feels very clichéd in its set-up. It doesn't help that it's minimalistically implemented. I couldn't examine anything or really do much other than get the ubiquitous gun (it's a Zombie game after all) from the bedroom and climb out the window. I assume this was because JaH cut some corners to get the game in for the deadline. This is fine. It is a demo, after all, and the point is to try and grab me with the setting and story. Those of us who just cut down an already partly-finished project had an unfair advantage in respect of implementation. The trouble is that it's becoming increasingly hard to make Zombies an interesting hook.
The mobile phone could be interesting. The first text message just cemented my feelings about the game's hackneyed approach, but the second text message was more amusing and made me wonder if JaH was going to pull a switcharoo and put some kind of unique spin on the genre. It's certainly possible, and the ending of the intro (it had an ending. Yay!) could certainly lead in that direction - or maybe it was just a convenient literary device to signal the end of the demo. On a different note, I would advise that JaH come up with something other than the oh-how-convenient "You lose the signal as soon as the message arrives" mechanism to control the player's use of the mobile phone.
What I did like was the use of bold text to highlight functional room features (at least I assume that was its purpose, as nothing was implemented). Some players may feel that this is hand-holding, but in this case I appreciated not having to wade through text to identify the important things. I think this will be a matter of taste, but I liked it.
I suspect the deadline forced JaH to rush this somewhat, as it didn't seem to have the same sparkling writing as his 'Spring Ting' entries (second text message and the cry of the being-eaten passer-by excepted). I stand by my comments for my last reviews of his games - this boy has the ability to write very good IF, so I'm hoping that he can do something with Zombies that will make me give this the thumbs up.
EDIT: I too failed to try "look at..." instead of 'x' and 'examine'. The game is not as sparsely implemented as I assumed. Sorry JaH.
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