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Let's take a moment to enjoy the post-it notes and graffiti in Back 4 Blood

Don't dead open inside

I spent some time this weekend wallowing happily in Back 4 Blood, the co-op zombie smasher positioned as a "spiritual successor" to Left 4 Dead. Had a great time; got covered in blood. Genuinely, I favour melee quite a lot, and one of the people I played with kept saying "You are covered in so much blood!" in a tone I took to be one of admiration.

Back 4 Blood does have a whole rich story (including that the Ridden are technically mutants and not zombies, but potayto, potarto. There's also some lovely set dressing, particularly in safe houses. One is a flat that has a calendar with a picture of a snapping turtle. Ed really liked that. My favourite bits, though, are the graffiti and post-it notes.

Cover image for YouTube videoBack 4 Blood Gameplay and Impressions | Better Than Left 4 Dead

The header there is like yer most basic kind of graffiti in an apocalypse, right? It's despairing and warns of a large threat. It's your "DON'T DEAD OPEN INSIDE" sort of thing. Thank goodness whoever did it had access to a big can of blank paint, that's all I can say. I love that they took the time to include glowing, drippy eyes in their depiction. I don't have a particular interest in this one, but it's a useful kind of baseline for the sort of stuff we broadly expect to be daubed on walls in a breakdown of society type situation.

But in Back 4 Blood, some social rules are asserting themselves. The survivors have priorities! Like work rotas!

It's so weirdly mundane. I hope I find, in a later safe house, a gold star chart for people who have completed chores: cleaned teeth, emptied bins, killed at least 10 zombs. I appreciate the advice about hammering zombs to death as well. Buddy, I am right there with you.

It turns out, though, that while there may be a critical shortage of bullets in the apocalypse, we won't be in any danger of running out of post-it notes. Honestly, I get that, too. They're not going to be useful in a lot of contexts. Still, I appreciate that they're kept around - perhaps issued to every Cleaner in the network - so that survivors can leave whimsical notes about their doomy situation.

There's one that says, "Thank God For Rednecks," and another that says, "PISS FIRE SHIT THUNDER". And appended to that one is a blue one that says "This used to be a nice neighbourhood :(" which was clearly written by the sort of person who had strong opinions about the correct use of the fridge in the office break room.

See also: the one that says, "The door ain't going lock itself PEOPLE!!" which is exactly the sort of way people use post-its in real life. I'm glad that even in the apocalypse, when leaving the door unlocked could literally lead to the death of you and most of your friends, we still express the importance of this with mild passive aggression.

There are some that I find funny for the wrong reasons, though. Example:

There is a story in Back 4 Blood about the Ridden and the mutating and so on, but the "I miss all the memes" post-it isn't adding to much of its world-building here. Although it does make me laugh to imagine the kind of person who would leave that note. Like, if you stop to leave a note saying, "I miss all the memes" after the entirity of civilisation has been wiped out, then, full offense, you deserve to be eaten by a zombie. I would leave you behind. I would tie you up to give myself more time to escape. I am extremely serious about this.

However, final shout-out to the books that this one safe-house has multiple copies of.

One of these things is not like the others.

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Back 4 Blood

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Alice Bell avatar

Alice Bell

Deputy Editor

Small person powered by tea and books; RPS's dep ed since 2018. Send her etymological facts and cool horror or puzzle games.