Wot I Think: Dead Effect

Imagine if you could take all the ideas other people have had, and then not do anything interesting with them. That’s the dream, the dream that gives us Dead Effect. A first-person shooter that has less ambition than this simile. Here’s wot I think.

Set aboard some space station or ship or something, you awake to find yourself surrounded by zombies, armed only with a massive arsenal of weapons and explosives, desperately struggling to move from one end to the other of a level. Your guide on this journey is a German voice in your ear, whose moustache-twirling intonations couldn’t possibly belie his apparent benevolence – heaven forefend.

But you’re infected too! A bit. And you’re wearing a magic space suit because those are in other games. It can, far too late on, be upgraded a tiny bit. And then you get treated for the infection, and, well, “Warning, one of the side-effects of the treatment is the ability to slow down time.” Of course!

So we’ve dank, repetitive near-black spaceship corridors, thousands of zombies, a special suit, bullet time, diary entries lying around to pick up, detached unreliable guiding voices… It is a small miracle that there are no “tower defence elements” thrown in. However, that would at least represent a small deviation from the monotony.

This is agonisingly repetitive. The corridors you must stagger down at a glacial pace (excepting one of the most laughably brief “sprints” I’ve ever seen) are literally identical in many sections. Level after level is indistinguishable from the last, the mix of zombie types barely ever changing, and predictable in their arrival. Find a computer, open a door, go down a lift, retrace your steps and go down that shut door, kill seventeen zombies in each room.

The last part there offers no real challenge, since you’re so overwhelmed with ammunition and upgradeable weapons (upgraded in some mysterious shop that somehow exists and accepts the money you’ve collected despite your being in a lift, or even imprisoned in a tiny room), and a shot to the head takes out almost everything. Almost. Because of course there’s also one non-boss zombie type that takes a bunch of shots to kill AND throws bombs at you that instantly kill you. In a game set in corridors.

And you can’t jump. Maybe the suit’s really heavy? Oh, and play as lady Jane Grey (such originality!) rather than gentleman Gunnar Davis (what a name!), as despite having a different voice actor you’ll still hear gruff manly panting whenever you “sprint”. That’s always a mark of quality.

This was formerly a free-to-play mobile game, and I’ll give it credit – I’d never have guessed that from the look and speed of it. Unity scales well, and the creature design looks top-end. The special effects give it away, however, with appalling blood splatters, and genuinely laugh-out-loud awful effects on things like the machine gun turrets. But in terms of what you actually get to do here – yes, it makes perfect sense that it was once about tapping a finger on a glass panel. There’s no nuance, no subtlety, no sense of requiring improving skill as you progress.

It sure is cheap, though. Perhaps it was more appropriately priced at nothing at all, but £5.59 is still coming in low for a full-length FPS. But even still, I really wouldn’t bother.

24 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    When can we look forward to the sequel, Mass Space?

  2. Dale Winton says:

    I bought this for a couple of pounds when it was early access as the reviews on steam were positive. Its not that bad as the review makes out. Worth a few hours of your time if you ask me

  3. Brosecutor says:

    So, 7/10?

  4. Rich says:

    So, wait for a Steam sale?

  5. krait says:

    It looks like Doom 3, only not that good.

    • epeternally says:

      Plays like it too. In spite of what the name tries to evoke, this is pure Doom 3, to the point where it could easily be a mod. On mobile, it was impressive, it really was – especially if played with a controller. But I can definitely see how a game whose biggest merit was looking good for a phone game wouldn’t hold up well when ported to Steam.

      (Also, re: the article, it was actually a premium mobile game that went free to play after weak sales, for the record.)

  6. ninenullseven says:

    Looks like Asylum Films production. Something mockbusting, you know.

    For some reason the game is big on mobile (along with another trashy ripoffs like Modern Combat, NOVA or Dead Trigger), but you know… they are all total trash even in comparison to any mediocre PC/Console FPS. Maybe because you can’t get anything good within mobile environment. Mobile market had hit a wrong turn and can’t heal yet.

    • vorador says:

      Asylum Games present: A mishmash of déjà vu, cheaply done and with just enough changes to avoid copyright infringement.

      Because they’re free. If they were paid for, nobody would play them. And since Unity is multiplatform, they probably went what the hell, lets see if we can find some dumb bastards to buy this stuff if we port it.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    You kind of missed the point – John was pointing out that when you select the female option the grunts and pants when sprinting don’t match your character’s voice when speaking and this is amusing.

    Also genitals do no determine gender.

    • Jac says:

      It is indeed amusing. I am actually tempted to buy it just so I can load it up and Sprint away my troubles whenever I need cheering up.

    • Monggerel says:

      my genitals are 100% for sure determined by the gendarmerie
      *wow miss*

  8. tsff22 says:

    I personally enjoy it. While I can’t deny that the combat is ungodly repetitive, that’s just something you have to expect from mindless arcade shooters, and I believe Dead Effect does a good job at being exactly that.

    Its no Doom 3 or Borderlands 2, obviously, but its still pretty fun.

  9. ffordesoon says:

    I watched Jim Sterling play this on his YouTube channel, and goddamn is this review accurate. There is literally nothing at all of note about this game on the PC – it’s nothing more than a free graphical showcase for the increasingly remarkable graphical horsepower of mobile platforms. Putting it on PC and charging money for it recontextualizes it as utterly unremarkable in every way. It’s one of those games that feels like a parody videogame you’d see on The Simpsons.

  10. morbiusnl says:

    EFFECTFACE

  11. Monggerel says:

    CRASS EFFECT

  12. kalirion says:

    Strangely enough, 86% of the close to 500 Steam Reviews of the game are positive. Granted, most of them appear to be Early Access reviews, but still…

  13. JohnnyPanzer says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clearer case of review pampering from a dev team than the “user” reviews for this on steam.

    Almost every positive review is lushingly, over the top, balls out mega positive. It’s the best game they’ve EVER played, it’s simply amazing, and did they mention that they have lots of respect for the dev team? They did? Oh, never mind, let’s mention it again. Better point out that they’re not only recommending the game, but ANY game from the same dev team. Hell, even future games should be recommended, because a dev team that manages to produce something THIS stellar simply can’t fail! Seriously you guys, don’t even bother reading reviews for games from these developers, becasue you’ll just waste time reading about how mind-blowingly awesome it is when you could have played it instead.

    My favorite so far is the early access review that states that even with less than three complete levels available, more than 40 hours of mind blowing fun has been had, so just imagine the full release considering how much the devs will add and polish. Oh… so it’s not a free mobile game that went through an akward EA stage for no good reason then? My mistake…

    • tsff22 says:

      Or maybe they just like the game? Just because RPS didn’t like it doesn’t mean EVERYONE has to dislike it.

      • JohnnyPanzer says:

        I’m not even talking about the mildly positive “I wasted a few hours, it was fun enough for a mobile game” reviews. Those I get. I’m talking about the large ammounts of “MIND! BLOWN!” reviews. It’s a corridor shooter where every single aspect ranges from ‘meh’ to ‘bad’. Even for a moblie game it’s bland.

        It’s like calling farmville “possibly the best simulation ever created”.

        A quick look through the user reviews and forum threads will tell you that this game “blows away most AAA titles!”, is the “best game ever made!”, has “amazing animations”, “deep and complex gameplay”, “reminds me of System Shock 2” and that all zombies are “very different and varied”.

        So yeah, I call BS.

        • Tacroy says:

          Not to argue that this game is actually good or anything, but it seems like it would be hard to generate that many accounts with >100 products associated with them.

          People are probably just not particularly discerning is all.

          • JohnnyPanzer says:

            I guess you’re right. Going through the logistics in my head I realize that, like you say, it would be a undertaking more suitable for a company of EA’s size.

            In a way, that’s even more shocking. Can you imagine the lack of quality control in a person who plays through this game and reaches the conclusion that gaming just took an evolutionary leap? Again, I get that people can have fun with the game. That’s subjective and it’s perfectly possible to have fun with sub-par products. What I don’t get is the large number of user reviews where the writer has fallen in love with the objectively bland craftsmanship, like the animations for the zombies. What does your game library look like when you consider those animations to be above and beyond state of the art?

  14. libdab says:

    OK … but did you like it?

  15. ANameThatWillMakeMeCool says:

    I’m one of the people who bought this game, played it, loved it, and left a positive review. I did it because when I played the game, I had fun. Sure, it’s not the newest wiz-bang modern-warfare hey-look-you-can-jump-high-now-check-out-how-innovative-we-are next gen first person shooter, but it’s a damn fun game about shooting zombies. I don’t care about all the pretentious “Does it do something new” nonsense when I play game; I just care if they did what they intended to do well, and with this game they sure as hell did. After all, there are plenty of games out there that do something new… and did it horribly and bored me to tears because of it.

    There’s a reason for that post about this game being better than most AAA titles, and that’s because those AAA shooters bored me to tears, while this game only gave me hours of fun. Don’t be fooled by the AAA shiny next-gen graphics, the “oh I can’t tell if this is CG!” cut scenes, or the totally engrossing story of yet another soldier in the desert shooting terrorists – that’s not where fun comes from. Those AAA titles have plenty of fan boys to brown nose for them. Take a few minutes and you’ll find there are a lot of amazing games out there that don’t have a big company name to ensure they’re popular no matter what they churn out for this year’s sequel.

    As for Doom 3, I find this game to be more fun.

  16. Relentless says:

    I registered with this website just so I could post. I assume John Walker had no experience with the original mobile game, Dead Effect, or he probably would have known the plot in which the PC version was conceived. Or maybe he was not aware of the efforts the developers of Dead Effort went through in Greenlight advertising just to get a chance to offer this incredibly inexpensive game to its fans. So for that I will forgive his lack of respect for a small group of dedicated developers who made a PC version of a game many mobile users absolutely loved. Please ensure the history of the game that’s being reviewed, and the reason behind the game before critizing it going forward John.