Dead Purge: Outbreak Review – Dead People, Dead Game

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Platforms: PC
Reviewed On: PC
Developer: Microlith Games
Publisher: Microlith Games
Singleplayer: Yes
Multiplayer: No

Review code provided free of charge by the developers

Ah, zombies. When in doubt zombies are the answer to a developer’s lack of creativity. Whenever you can’t come up with something unique or even just a fun spin on the standard zombie theme you can simply pile a bunch of generic shamblers into a level, give the player a gun and call it a day. That honestly feels like what happened to Microlith Games, the developers of Dead Purge: Outbreak.

The first thing I noticed when firing up Dead Purge was LCD screens emblazoned with the words, “Office Pack.” Yes, Dead Purge uses a number of assets bought directly from various stores, and the developers seemingly didn’t even bother to alter the screens scattered around the Police Station level. However, to the developer’s credit they have at least been upfront about their use of purchased assets on the Steam forums, their argument being that the buying of such items allows them to save money and focus on the gameplay itself. It’s an argument that perhaps would have worked if it wasn’t for one simple fact; the rest of the game is a bit of a mess.

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So here’s the general gist of Dead Purge: you get dumped into a small, boring level armed with a pistol, knife and submachine gun and must kill the incoming hordes of shambling zombies who could have come from any zombie story everf. When playing on the standard horde mode there’s a drone that somehow magically appears inside of buildings which offers up a grand total of ten guns to purchase along with four melee weapons, grenades and health packs. You stock up, survive the next round and repeat until victory or boredom achieved. There are no boss encounters or differing enemy types to help shake things up along the way. You just shoot and shoot and shoot until the end of the last round, with the difficulty settings simply ramping up the number of foes that get hurled in your direction. Or you can fire up the endless survival mode where zombies drop weapons and health pickups like undead pinatas.

If it sounds familiar it’s because it is. This is a concept done numerous times, and indeed it wasn’t all that long ago I reviewed Killing Floor 2, which does this exact same idea but far, far better. Not only does the Killing Floor 2 retail for roughly the same price but it boasts much more content in terms of maps, weapons, enemy design and multiplayer, something which Dead Purge is lacking. In fact, looking closely it I feel like Dead Purge even nicked Killing Floor 2’s money symbol. Huh.

But things could be redeemed if the actual gunplay was fun. Sadly it isn’t. For starters, while the weapons do sound quite reasonable their recoil is oddly modelled so that they kick sideways a lot of the time rather than upwards. Meanwhile, the game makes a mockery of its own movement system by having numerous examples of dodgy hitboxes throughout the environment that leave you getting caught up on just about everything like a drunk trying to walk down the street. The worst offenders are doorways that demand a damn-near mathematical level of precision to get through correctly, and for some reason it’s actually impossible to strafe sideways through them. Games like this live or die based on their movement, and Dead Purge fails miserably.

That isn’t to say that some enjoyment can’t be found. There’s a bit of satisfaction to be gleaned from nailing a headshot before the game enters into a brief blast of slow-mo, letting you pop a few more heads like gory melons. There’s even an enthusiastic voice that yells out things like “rampage!” although it does sound completely out of place in a game that otherwise has a very realistic visual style.

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Along the way you get to level up and spend research points to do amazing things like increase pistol damage by 10%, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. The levelling system feels incredibly tacked on, largely because it has odd limitations in place, like how you can’t increase shotgun damage until you hit level three, so if you typically favour shotguns then tough luck. None of the unlocks are interesting nor serve to enhance or otherwise alter the gameplay, making it redundant. A good upgrade system needs to excite the player, and this does not do that.

There are other problems, too. Reloading takes forever, and quite often even after the animation is seemingly complete you can’t open fire. It makes the reload speed upgrade feel almost necessary

Zombies spawn straight into the map, appearing before your very eyes like some sort of messed up magic trick performed by a magician with serious issues. Hell, in the suburbs level they’ll phase straight through the outer fences or appear in the backyard. It would almost be funny if they couldn’t also spawn right beside you or in some cases almost on top of you, resulting in frustrating deaths. What is comical is when they somehow manage to keep spawning inside of a bathroom in the Police Station. Where are they coming from exactly? Are they crawling up through the toilets or something? Because if so that’s worse than the idea of snakes creeping up through the S-bend.

There are bunches of other stupid little things, too, like how the yards in the suburbs all have the same tire tracks through them, even in places where it makes absolutely no sense, or how you can sometimes spot the seams where the levels have been clicked together. Hell, I spent a few minutes laughing at the fact that the Alley level, despite being very small, contains several of the same sex shop.

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In terms of maps you’ve got a grand total of six, except that some of those are repeats of those are the exact same location with only the time of day changed. The Suburbs has a day version which features a different layout than it’s night and dawn counterparts, but the night and dawn versions of the map are the same. the Alley has day and night versions, too, both exactly the same as each other. Yup, that means you get a pathetic four levels to pick from. Combine that with small selection of standard weapons and the fact that there are a mere two types of zombie (crawling or walking) and you’ve got a game sorely lacking in content, especially since a good chunk of it has been purchased from other creators.

On the technical side, the game’s performance is generally okay but there were some notable drops despite running on a GTX 1080, Ryzen 1600 and 16GB of RAM. Wherever you look there are dodgy textures and poor animations. In fact, just before writing this review I noted that my character’s shadow was holding an M16 assault rifle. Not only is this weapon not even in the game, but I was holding a pistol at the time.

The audio is equally iffy. While I’ve already mentioned that the weapons do sound reasonable their noise never changes based on the environment. This is true of all audio across the game. It’s a seemingly small thing, but it’s these details that help draw you into the game. Some of the sounds are just plain wrong, too, like how walking on wood results in a metal sound. As for everything else, it’s passable, but that’s about it.

There are zero reasons to buy Dead Purge. It’s visually dull, brimming with problems and doesn’t even have reasonable gameplay to make up for it all. A couple of maps, weapons and zombie types have been combined with store-bought assets to form a completely boring product. Unless you’re an extreme zombie fan just avoid this one and pick up one of the many other games that take this exact concept and do it far, far better. Go playing Killing Floor 2 or something.

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