Developer: ShotX Studios
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Genre: Rogue-like, Tower defence, Twin-Stick Shooter
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 12/01/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
A Genre-Defying Hodge-Podge
Games in recent years are becoming more of a hodge-podge of genres and that, in my opinion, is a good thing. Take Dead ground, for example, layout a tower defence game, spread it with an even layer of rogue-like and sprinkle it with a little bit of twin-stick shooter. Hmmm, tasty. In all fairness, though I do like developers to try new things and I commend them for doing so. These weird, risky decisions mainly come from the indie space of video gaming and that is why I like indie games so much. They are not afraid to push the proverbial boat out.
Dead ground is mainly a tower defence title. You use in-game resources to build defences against wave after wave of ever-increasing uncanny foes. These waves come to a head when the stage boss spawns and hopefully, your defences will hold. Where this title differs from other games of this ilk, if you die, that’s it, tu muerte, game over, back at the title screen. Some people will be put off by this, I know these types of games are not for everyone but I like it but I do love rogue-likes.
There are small things that persist over your games of Dead Ground, new, unlockable characters and artefacts you can find but mostly it is about getting better at the game, making better decisions and getting to grips with the flow of the game that will get you further through it. You gain resources that can be used in-game to unlock new towers, upgrade these towers and buy and sell various loot. With this game also being a twin-stick shooter, it also has loot and another layer to this genre-defying cake.
As your obliterating hundreds of pixel-based foes, you will gather new loot. New weapons, special abilities and passive boosts will drop at the end of each level, these can be equipped, sold and even bought at the game’s shop. They add a plethora of quirks, wrinkles and traits to each run you play. It’s a nice balancing act you keep your character tooled up, your towers strong and your upgrades flowing. Especially if you don’t want to die in your next run.
Choose Your Own Death…….. I mean Adventure
One feature I did like, which harkens back to the choose-your-own-adventure books of my childhood, was the random events that happen between levels. Before each stage, you get asked something like “You have found a dark, dank cave full of possibilities, will you enter?” or something like that. Then depending on some random number generator, you will have a good thing or a bad thing happen and your resources and stats will be amended accordingly. It’s a small thing but a thing I enjoyed nonetheless.
Graphically, while the game is not ugly, it will not set many peoples’ world on fire. I mean, I grew up in the ‘80s so graphics are quite far down my list of requirements when gaming. I like pretty games, don’t get me wrong but I value other parts of games much, much more. Dead Ground has a 1990’s Miniclip look to it, everything is clear enough and legible, I just wish it had a bit more of a unique style, a bit more of an identity to it. The whole presentation is rather forgettable really.
On the sound front, again, it all sounds a bit basic. The music is good in places and the sound effects are not horrible, but as with the graphical side of things, it all just looks and sounds quite basic. This paired with some framerate issues that occur when the action gets hot, the game’s ills starts to wear away at some of the games better aspects and over time can start to erode the entertainment of Dead Ground into, well, the ground.
An Amalgamation Less Than The Sum of Its Parts
So, what we have with Dead Ground is a, at times, entertaining rogue-like shooter, tower defence title with a basic presentation that struggles to perform in large action scenes. When I read that back to myself, even though I like the idea and the amalgamation of genres, I find it very hard to recommend it to most people. There are certainly better rogue-likes out there and definitely better twin-stick shooters and tower defence titles. I would save your hard-earned coinage for something else.
If you would like to purchase Dead Ground, you can from the Nintendo EShop, here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.